The Renegade Sam: I’m Next (2011)

Bio (from the artist):
I’m a young black male from South Africa currently doing my 3rd Year in the University of the Free State… I’m 21 years old and I have been trying so hard to break through the rap industry, and reach my dream of becoming the first South African rap artist to be signed by an American record label.. they say go big or go home and I believe with God by my side, nothing is impossible and a lot of people keep telling to me give up on my dreams but I will not. You only lose when you give up.. The tracks are not of such great quality due to lack of resources. My rap name is “The Renegade Sam” and my birthname is Samkelo Cetyiwe aka Sammy.. I know I have what it takes to make it in the rap industry all I need is a chance to prove my worth under the perfect resources.

The Renegade Sam – vocals

I was contacted by Samkelo via email to check out his music, and I was glad to finally hear from an emcee for a review, as hip-hop is probably my favorite genre of music (and yes, I know hip-hop is not really a genre, it’s a culture made up of a combination of different elements, but for sake of ease, that’s what I’m going with here).  I’M NEXT is The Renegade Sam’s demo CD, and it is very much of the “homemade” quality level; the production varies, on some songs it’s pretty good, on others it needs a lot of work.  What is consistent between the tracks is Renegade’s flow and skill; he is a young man, rapping in a style that sounds very Mtv, that is to say that I could hear a few of these tracks (“Document 2” “I Still Ride”) bumping out of a SUV on huge rims.

Renegade is obviously very heavily influenced by American gangsta rap; this is obvious in both the music production, the content of his rap, and his word choice.  He talks about the hard life in South Africa, losing his father, his n—-s*, bitches, guns, etc.  I don’t doubt that life is hard in South Africa, I would be surprised if I’M NEXT didn’t have references to this, but on a personal style level I just don’t enjoy gangsta rap.  I don’t enjoy songs about violence and misogynism and glorification of criminal life, and that’s what I hear in gangsta rap (that’s probably why I also don’t get much into horrorcore, death metal, etc., I just can’t get into that sort of glorification).

That being said, in listening to I’M NEXT what I do hear that catches my attention is potential.  Renegade is a young man, rapping in English (I don’t know if it is his first language, or if that would be Afrikaans), and he obviously has talent.  With some guidance, some attention from someone in the game, some better facilities and production, I think Renegade could make a big splash.  He could be big on the radio – as I mentioned before, some of his songs already sound like they should be there – and he could be the next big thing in foreign rap.  It is extremely hard to get into the American rap scene if you are not from here… off the top of my head I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone that is large in the scene that is not from the states.  If someone here could get Renegade into a good studio, and spend some time honing the talent he has into lyrical skill, he could be big.

One thing I think would help get Renegade more attention is to try to be less American and more South African.  There is no getting past his accent; if you have ever heard someone from South Africa speak, it will be immediately obvious that Sam is their countryman.  This is not a bad thing at all, Renegade is not hard to understand, and his accent is not unintelligible.  I personally think he would make more of an impact by incorporating some more South African influence into his music; maybe some verses in Afrikaans, some production harkening back to the sounds of Mbaqanga.  I am not saying that Renegade’s next album has to sound like a hip-hop version of Paul Simon’s GRACELAND, or the newest stylistic mash up from Die Antwood, but I think his music would benefit from showing where it comes from a little more, and where it wants to be a little less.  There’s thousands of emcees in the US that can do auto-tuned, violent gangsta rap, there’s not many that can stand out from the pack by showing this kind of culture and background.

Overall, I enjoyed the talent I hear in I’M NEXT a lot more that the content.  I can hear an emcee that has the potential to go a long way with a little guidance and support, and I hope he can get his music heard by a wider audience so that some one in the position to provide that guidance and support may have the opportunity to hear what Renegade has to say.

Overall 6.5 / 10

I’M NEXT is not for sale

I’M NEXT does not have a site

(no artwork)

*Sorry, normally I don’t censor myself in these blogs, but I hate that word… I understand the idea of taking a word back and taking its power away by undermining its use, but to me it still just reeks of American racism and prejudice, and I was surprised to hear it dropped with such regularity and familiarity on a recording from South Africa.  It makes me hate that word even more that American culture has obviously spread its use to other countries.


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