YoungstaCPT on Cape Town's hard truths: they don't want you to see the pain

The rapper has made it his duty to tell the untold stories of Cape Town, with his new album being an ode to the Cape Flats and the complex issues of coloured identity

07 April 2019 - 00:11 By Matthew Hirsch
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Rapper YoungstaCPT.
Rapper YoungstaCPT.
Image: Instagram/@youngstacpt

It is a tumultuous time for SA and in particular Cape Town, a city still deeply affected by spatial apartheid planning, socioeconomic inequality and riddled with gang violence. Something that the average tourist to Cape Town might not even notice when they are strolling on the Sea Point Promenade or taking in the view of Table Mountain at the V&A Waterfront.

The stories, however painful, still need to be told. This is where rapper Riyadh Roberts AKA YoungstaCPT steps in to fill the void.

Youngsta, from Wittebome, in Wynberg in the southern suburbs of Cape Town has released 30 mixtapes and been prominent on the local rap scene since 2014.

At the media launch of his new album titled 3T (Things Take Time) at the District Six Homecoming Centre last week, though, he told those present that this piece of work would be different.

To listen to the album you need two hours of uninterrupted time - it is packed with stories and you pick up new things with every listen. You can hear the influences of Common, 2Pac, Notorious BIG and Dead Prez.

On one of the standout tracks, Cape of Good Hope, he raps: "Colonialism shook us, we got off to a rocky start. Now we building empires and calling it Grassy Park. I've never seen democracy, Skaapkraal to Ottery. Salute to Marc Lottering but this isn't a comedy.

"Sorry if it's harsh but we all have an opinion. I'm being aggressive for Ashley Kriel and Taliep Petersen."

CPT has made it his duty to tell the untold stories of Cape Town. The album is an ode to the Cape Flats and the complex issues of the coloured identity. He acknowledges the struggles, of which there are many, but there is also a light of hope at the end of the tunnel.

But in order for us to rectify what has gone wrong in the past, he says we must learn about our history.

"What other rap album brings you to a museum?" he asks, referring to the launch venue of 3T.

Riyadh Roberts, known as the rapper YoungstaCPT.
Riyadh Roberts, known as the rapper YoungstaCPT.
Image: Instagram/@youngstacpt

Cape Town is still very much a tale of two cities. You have your leafy suburbs and tourist attractions and less than 30 minutes' drive from the CBD, you have the Cape Flats townships, an apartheid design. Some of these issues are highlighted on songs titled Tik Generation, Pallet Gun and CA (Crazy Arabian) on which he raps "there's a war on the streets and it's sounding like Iraq".

Youngsta says: "We are dealing with a new monster, I call it a new age apartheid. In Cape Town you see it very clearly, more clear than you see it in other cities.

"This Camps Bay and the triple-storey house is nice but this is a brochure that
they are selling you. People are not talking about Ottery, Lotus River, Bishop Lavis or Belhar in the brochures. They don't want you to see the pain, they want to hide it. Once you see that it gives you a totally different perception of Cape Town and they don't want that. Unfortunately for them, there is me."

During the making of the album, Youngsta interviewed his grandfather, who also narrates on the album. He was affected by the Group Areas Act and forcibly removed from District Six. He was able to move back to Simon's Town because he worked in the naval docks as a labourer but this didn't last. The impact of this is something that young people are still dealing with to this very day.

Youngsta wanted to tell his family's story. 3T's cover features a picture of his grandfather in his younger days.

Riyadh Roberts and his grandfather.
Riyadh Roberts and his grandfather.
Image: Supplied

A few weeks before the elections take place, it is perhaps an appropriate time for this piece of social commentary to be released. "I waited five years to release this album. I made 30 mixtapes in the interim but I waited five years, wondering if people are going to understand and respect it. Now we're at the point where things are so bad in SA, I don't care if they understand, people need to hear this."

The album spans 22 tracks and 140 minutes of running time. The sequencing of the tracks is done very intentionally.

You don't want to listen to the project on shuffle - that would feel like starting a movie halfway through. In an era that is more focused on making hit singles for radio, that is refreshing.

The album is insightful without being overly preachy.

As he raps on the song Sensitive : "I feel like I'm a young veteran." After you listen to the album, you get the sense that he is. YoungstaCPT is a storyteller of his generation, and he is here to stay.

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