Hip hop duo brings hope to ‘Mamma Africa’

TWO hip hop artists, Ashwin Bens (Richie Bens) and Thulani Mpisane (Ras Thulani), together known as ‘Hip-Hop Mzansi’, plan to use their music to tell their story and make a serious change in the South African music industry.

The friends met on Margate beachfront a few months back – Thulani (47) works as a car guard and Ashwin (27) distributes holiday flyers. When they are not hustling to make a living they rap – with a difference.

Ashwin and Thulani say they use hip-hop to get out of the ghetto and inspire people as they believe their land, ‘Mamma Africa’ is bleeding.

“We want to spread the spirit of Ubuntu through our music,” they say. Ashwin added that their music is all about the positive message which aims to be ‘constructive and uplifting.’

The friends believe that nowadays the lyrics of music is what is destroying the youth’s minds and sending out the wrong message.

They explained that they don’t like ‘gangsta rap’ that preaches about fast cars, money and girls – it may sound good but it’s not good for the soul.

While most rap artists want to make music for the streets, we want to make music for the land.

The artists plan to change the minds of South Africans and take their music to the prisons to spread a good and positive message.

“I will feel guilty if I don’t do something to make a change. Music has the ability to change things. I always have a song playing in my head,” said Ashwin.

They have so far collaborated with DJ Sammy, their producer at Mofire Studios and are currently looking for a manager. To get to the studio entails a trip in a taxi and then a long hot walk. It’s tradition to say a prayer before they start to record.

The artists are both interesting characters and have a lot in common.

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Ashwin Bens (Richie Bens) and Thulani Mpisane (Ras Thulani).

For starters they both grew up without father figures and are deeply spiritual, with music playing a big part in their lives.

Thulani was a stage actor in the Free State, while Ashwin danced for ‘B Superb’, a break dance group, but says he has always been attracted to the hip-hop scene.

Most importantly, they work well together, are professional and serious about their music career and share a common vision. They cater for all languages as Ashwin speaks English and Afrikaans while Thulani speaks Sesotho, English and Zulu.

“We work hard for things as we don’t come from a rich background. It’s not easy to get where we are but we are focused on our land with no sand,” said Ashwin.

“Life is music, music is our life and our heartbeat.”

Anyone interested in helping the duo can contact Ashwin at 064 282 2892.


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Shona Aylward

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