SIPHO THE GIFT
Sipho the Gift Bio
by Tseliso Monaheng
Rapper Sipho the Gift started making music by emulating what he’d hear when growing up, but quickly learnt that he wanted to tell his own story.
On his first album, Sterkspruit-born, Stellenbosch-based artist sought to distance himself from the pack. His skillset betrayed his age; at 21 years young, eyes fixed upon an uncertain future, he released the self-produced Coming of Age EP (2015).
It featured the talents of North Carolina’s Well$, as well as vocalist Cherry Eyes.
“I wanted to give a glimpse into the mind of a 20 year-old turning 21, measuring himself against the world and learning what it is to be a man while making your own destiny,” he says of it.
The effort was critically acclaimed by publications in print and on-line; Okayafrica said it showcased an emcee’s “daily journey through gritty 808 beats and raw wordplay.”
Coming of Age showcased his ability to employ words, rhythm and melody to “tell people about themselves, while using myself as a mirror.”
Among the many publications he’s been included in are Complex Magazine and Pigeon and Planes. The latter in a list titled Beyond America: Exploring Rap Around the World. Sipho the Gift’s a gifted producer who’s amassed production credits on music by the likes of Well$, Deniro Ferrar, and King Mez, who featured prominently on Dr. Dre’s Compton album.
The adulation Coming of Age received was also followed by a depressive episode where the artist felt that he wasn’t getting anywhere fast with his music. It was partly due to the muted response it received, but also because he’d lost two hard drives’ worth of music and a laptop.
Sipho the Gift returned with Kintsugi two years later, fuelled by a determination to make right the bits and pieces he felt were missing from his initial outing, and the glaring need for a voice such as his in the South African rap environment. He found in the Japanese word a source of strength and a sharpened focus. The EP is “rich with harmonies and melodies, laying a thick blanket of orchestration over the pounding drums,” as one writer put it.
Kintsugi has also birthed two wonderful visual creations by the prolific Cape Town filmmaker, Motion Billy. “The Long Way Home” and “Gal 6-17” are important monuments to a dedication to fully realizing one’s artistic vision.
That’s what makes him a dope, true school emcee: Sipho the Gift refuses to compromise. He won’t play by the rules! He’ll march to his own drum, perfect his craft (he was off-grid writing material for his third project at the time of publishing), and shine brighter with time.