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Skwattah Kamp cling to the winds of change
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Words: Madala Thepa - copyright 2002

The pace of things is really quickening for Skwattah Kamp after levering its feet firmly on the rung of change and keeping the mind in the fringes of consciousness. Skwattah Kamp has become the ancient ones of the mzansi hip-hop, self-possesed, the like of whom there is none in making themselves heard especially pungent. In fact they have managed to clinch a dense network in the media that it is now randomly scarce not to notice when they are around. A man had better be sure of his ground before bringing Skwattah Kamp into it, because there exists in them the metier of an advanced diction, owned in common and rubbing off well to every member of the group. They lost two members as Phantom Slick remembers, “They could not handle the direction we are taking”. Perhaps the saying that “If a rope is cut and retied, it will be shorter than before”, does not seem to work on this determined group. They appear erect, spare and with the infinite amount to talk about.

They first met during the 90's, when they were still teens and when mzansi hip-hop was hot in the mandatory boastings and the ritual meetings occasioned with ciphers decked out in fine, sometimes issuing in bitter words. This respire was to prepare Skwattah Kamp to arch for a stretch, embarking on a journey of archiving their strong history of freestyle into albums. In '98 Skwattah Kamp, made up of nine members, set out to do an underground album, the first in Gauteng featuring edgy local acts on tapes. The album was sold in the streets, selling assiduously with the pace of the snail, remaining quietly and an unremarkable project. The album finished off tipsy with failure despite the efforts put into it. “Everything was recorded in a toilet, with a keyboard, with one take, live arrangements and mixing”, reminisced Slick who appears to be the encyclopedia of the group, of their determination that illuminated the path for other project following suit.

Determined again was Skwattah Kamp, this time around with the resolve to cast by the wayside, the metaphor of getting down a couple of birds with one stone, with the case of acquiring the services of a manager. They did another album called Skwattah Kampaign in 2001 which compared to the first, did well in terms of sales. “We decided to take things more seriously. We organise ourselves in the sense that we don't take things for granted any more. We have a set manager because we believe you can't do everything. People like Mizchif, Amu and Spex have moved far because they have managers”, interposed Shuga Smackx and Slick on top of their voices. “We have self produced, self distributed and sold big and got big because of radio”, added Shuga Smackx. Looking at the successful shows they have organised, credit can be given to that fact that they have had a manager who took care of the things that consumed much of the resources of the mind, while they performed. The reason they are so popular owes to the several struggles harnessed together with their manager. Haven't the people say that a dog could not answer two calls at once without breaking his jaw to the ground?

If the routine dictates in a lot of mzansi hip-hop, to do albums for the fun of it, then Skwattah Kamp is strung up to the serious business, leaving young loafers worried with envy. As Slick points out, “Is not mcing we are doing, we write songs and not lyrics. We take what we do as a job and we plan for everything we set out to do. We asks ourselves why we record and we also implements marketing strategies”. Tireless as the soil, Skwattah Kamp has come up with the new album titled Khut ‘n Joyn this past month of March, which, its full import is the tutelage of the enlightenment of the people. The philosophy behind it, said Shuga Smackx, “Is to make the people relate to it, in terms of language because the people listens when you speak in their language”. As if something inside of him was manipulating his mind, Slick cut in with the offering, “The album is a balance with local lingo and English. With this album we want to raise national pride with social issues and also with matters of the heart. We want to build the man on the street”. Because Skwattah Kamp is on the counter movements of change, they have extended hands to work with other musicians from different genre, a move that can be observed as a veiled threat by hardcore mzansi hip-hop artists, who want nothing to do with mzansi albums fraud with frivolous attitudes.
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