By Sinethemba Witi
Eastern Cape underground rapper Yonela Faba, AKA Yosh, broke boundaries on Saturday 23 September, hosting a show with a live band at Slipstream Sports Bar in Grahamstown. The show took Faba three weeks to prepare and was a career highlight. In performance with Yosh were other artists from Rhodes University.
The rapper is a Postgraduate Certificate in Education student with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology under his belt. He is currently based in Grahamstown.
Born in Mdantsane, Yosh was raised in Bhisho, where he spent his teenage life. He started singing at the age of six as a hobby and wrote his first rap at the age of 11. Aside from rapping, he writes poetry and does vocals.
He released his first mixtape in 2010 and produced four more in the following four years. After a three-year hiatus he released his most recent mixtape, CrowningDayEP, which consists of nine tracks and was released on 23 July 2017. The album is number four on TheBlacksmithed.com, one of the most downloaded mixtapes in the Eastern Cape.
Promoting his mixtape, Yosh hosted a listening session at The Olde 65 in Grahamstown last month and the bar was packed with fans and close friends. The 23-year-old’s Slipstream show saw another packed house and this time he performed with a pianist, bassist and drummer. He’s one of the few underground Eastern Cape rappers to host a show featuring a live band rather than prerecorded backing tracks.
“I came here with no expectations, but it worked out for the best,” Yosh said. “I am satisfied with everything that happened tonight, completely.”
The energetic crowd stood up, danced and sang along throughout. The acts were a variety of local artists, from rappers and poets to RnB and lounge singers.
The supporting artists were grateful for the opportunity Yosh had given them to showcase their talents. Performance poet, Naledi, said “Events like these are important because they grow a culture of nurturing talent.” Rapper Bothlale Modisaotsile, AKA BPM, said, “Our music is heard but not listened to. People judge us easily; they don’t realise we put in a lot of effort into our work. We hustle, we pay to make songs. Events like these are important for us because people get to listen to our songs. I must commend Yosh for this great event, he’s really done it and I’m really proud of him as an individual and as a friend.”
Yosh also gave a platform to a rapper from the LGBT community, who was equally appreciative of the platform. “This is the way we can express ourselves, because I don’t think as a queer rapper I can be given a space where I can actually fill in, but because I’ve worked with Yosh, he said he also wants people from my community to be heard,” said Asonele Phiri, AKA Lovemore.
Inspired by his hustle
Faba’s work ethic is inspiring not only to young and upcoming artists but also to fans and friends. Yosh’s friends who were there to support him say they are ‘inspired by his hustle’.
“Yosh is a friend of mine. We met earlier this year but we’re pretty close. I like his music and I support him as an artist. I like his hustle. I’d love to see more acts like this because it’s inspiring, a space where other artists can get some integration,” said Sibongisisa Jabavu.
Yosh says people always depend on others to make things happen, but he believes differently because he is an independent artist. As an upcoming musician, he believes in working extra hard for something he wants, and this includes taking risks and doing something no one else has done before. He also believes that if you can dream something, you can do it. He doesn’t wait for other people to validate what he believes in. This is why he hosts his own shows and invites other artists, rather than waiting to be invited to events as a performer. “People always depend on others to do something, either the government for jobs or artists wait to be invited in events to perform; but I am independent and I am breaking boundaries by creating my own events and inviting artists,” said Yosh.
Yosh does most of his work independently, such as branding and post designs. In organising the show, he had help from his friends with marketing on social media and putting up posters and fliers. The rapper thanked everyone who came through including the supporting artists who helped him with the event.
Find Yonela ‘Yosh’ Faba on all social media platforms:
Facebook: Yonela Yosh Faba / Yosh ZA