64 Bars - YoungstaCPT
© Tyrone Bradley
The Cape Town-bred emcee drops some hot punchlines
The set-up is elegantly simple: an MC, one mic, one studio. 64 Bars is a project formulated in 2015 by David Dallas and Red Bull Studios Auckland, where handpicked MCs hit the booth and lay down ‘64 bars’. Straight raps - no hooks, bells or whistles.
For the first South African installment YoungstaCPT steps into the booth. With 30 mixtapes and numerous EPs and accolades under his belt, YoungstaCPT is regarded as one of the most important South African emcees of this generation. Not holding back, his 64 Bars are filled with punchlines, taking aim at his doubters. We chatted to YoungstaCPT after his stint in the booth about his experience and his upcoming album. Read on below.
What head space were you in when writing your 64 Bars?
That song was written in about 2014/2015. A lot of my music that gets released, I won’t say old, because to the listeners it’s new, but for me, as the author of it it’s a lot of past scripts. But if I look at music it’s supposed to stand the test of time. Music is not something that lasts for five minutes or is not supposed to, and then be done with. So I feel like if you can have music that you can perform for five or ten years you’re making art that’s very strong. And that’s able to withstand any current wave or sound that may overshadow the skill of the song. I can tell you that boom-bap is never going to die. Real hip-hop is never going to die out no matter what trap and sub-genres in rap like mumble rappers, trap, lean, codeine rap, hardcore rappers, but boom-bap the original form that I wrote the track for 64 Bars on, that kind of hip-hop will never die out no matter what, because that is essence. We always return to it.
So it’s an old track that I’d written but I think because I was asked to rap 64 bars I went to the first song that I knew had 64 bars in it. It actually has more bars than 64 but I had to stop here. I was going to continue but then I’d have gone over the 64 bars. As artists, you have to have fun with the music. Being constantly held in this 16 bars and a chorus, repeat, then a bridge, a chorus and the song ends. Being held in that confines restricts you. You can’t fully do what you want. Where with 64 bars you can go crazy and that’s what I did.
It's called Music 3T?
To shed some light on the title, my album that’s coming out at probably the end of the year is called 3T, which stands for Things Take Time. So it’s quite ironic that I chose that song and now my album is called 3T. But the reason that is called music 3T is the album of Maloon the Boom and myself from which it comes from there are songs called “Music 1st” and “Music 2nd” and then “Music 3T”. It’s a continuation of skits or interludes. Short tracks where I just bust one verse, but “3T” is very long because I can’t just be doing these 1:30 songs people are gonna wanna hear longer bars and dissect your whole life. Because people like to analyse I gave them “Music 3T” which was like the full track of “Music 1st” and “Music 2nd”.
As rappers, we have the ability to paint pictures we can make our own series, documentaries, movies with music. So, me doing “Music 1st”, “Music 2nd” and “Music 3T” it’s a fun series. Like Lil Wayne is coming out with Carter V, new fans might not know Carter I but it’s nice for him to continue that story because for him its the bigger picture. So music 3t was my way of giving the people the full song because the others were short and I wanted to give them a whole punchline filled track. And that’s what it is, it’s just a bunch of punchlines.
Is it also a bit of a response to your doubters?
Indeed. More than a response to them. I'm never going to get too specific with them and mention any names because then I’m giving them a plug and I don’t want that. But I want to use my art form and platform to say what I want to say back, whether it’s about politics, education system health, corruption, whatever it may be I’m always going to use my music to let my people know where I am mentally and spiritually. I’m never going to make songs about clubbing and bottle popping and sex. That’s not the order of the day for me.
So it’s a different kind of a life. I’m always going to use that to discuss that but at the same time this is hip hop, contact sport, not R'n'B shit, you have to constantly let these guys know sometime that even though you’re trying to make songs for the radio or songs that are PG because kids listen to our music as well so I don’t want to curse all the time but it’s important to let them know that they shouldn’t fuck around with me. I’m one of the sharpest knives in the toolshed. This song is a reminder of that as well. They’re lucky it’s only 64 bars, let’s put it that way.
What challenges do 64 Bars present?
The only challenge is remembering the lyrics! We as rappers are always complaining that they didn’t give us enough time on stage or we only get 12 bars so I can’t say what I want to say, so when people give you the freedom don’t complain.
You worked on the original track with Maloon the Boom...
It was from an album we released in 2016. Almost every song on this album has music videos. So we’re trying to do that with my debut album too. It was very nice that the album ran for as long as it did and it got released overseas as well. We did a vinyl release, it only came out on iTunes in 2018, which is cool for me because songs like ”Arabian Gangster” came out in 2016 and was one of my bigger songs. With the Music 3T thing, it’s nice that I’m drilling the 3T concept in people’s minds and giving them a taste of what the album might have. Subtle hints as to what they can expect.
What can we expect from the new album?
What's different is I handpicked every beat this time. I was very heavily involved in the production side of things. When I do a collaborative album with a Maloon, Ganja Beats or Loopsta sometimes they have a beat that they really like and they want me to rap on it, because it’s their preference and I won't say no because it’s a collab and then there are other songs that they don’t like and they let me do it. So it’s a give and take.
This album is whatever I love. Whatever I’m into. That’s what I’m taking. I basically constructed the whole sound of the album myself. This album is very personal. It’s going deeper than I have gone before in terms of who I am as Riyadh, not YoungstaCPT. Going into the personal life and discussing my upbringing, things about my family and how I feel about certain issues in the world, especially in South Africa. The crime stats just came out, unemployment stats came out the other day, so it’s no secret that we’re living in crazy times. Especially here in Cape Town. It has a lot of stories.