Maleboo : The PediRap firebrand on language advocacy and his recent album. - Mega Artists Media

Maleboo : The PediRap firebrand on language advocacy and his recent album.

Mpho Mokiri, also known as Maleboo, is a rapper who celebrates his native language through his music. Mokiri was born and raised in Limpopo, Sekhukhune area in Ga-Phaahla village before moving to Hatfield, Pretoria.

The strong traditional aspects he infuses into popular hip-hop set him apart and he believes he can introduce Pedi Rap into the mainstream because  music is an universal language. He is targeting everyone who finds his music interesting, regardless of age, color, or gender.

His music incorporates components from many spectrums from throughout the world. His song “Ditau” has gained popularity in his home province Limpopo, Mpumalanga, as well as Botswana and Lesotho.

He is a self-taught musician and producer who does everything from music production to mastering his own music. Maleboo promotes his music through own annual events, social media, and local radio stations.

Maleboo wishes to tell his narrative so that the world can learn more about BaPedi. He wants to make it in the industry so that people can hear his music and appreciate his talent.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR LATEST ALBUM

I make hip hop music and represent PediRap. I used to make music in English, but I didn’t stand out because I sounded like everyone else. I wanted to do something extraordinary so I started rapping in Sepedi and people started appreciating my music. Rapping in my Sepedi is important because people look up to me as the pioneer of PediRap and the ambassador of Bapedi. I had to put my mother tongue first.

The album was inspired by the people. I wasn’t ready to release an album, but sometime in 2020 during lockdown I shared video clips of my studio sessions and unreleased songs. Little did I know I was creating demand for my music.

People started asking me to combine all the songs and release an album. I titled the album Mpho because that’s my name. The album has seventeen songs. I mixed and mastered all the songs. I featured an artist, Matalane Mokgatla, on the first song called Dinoko.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR SINGEL DITUA

I had to address some issues and a few naysayers, nemesis and hit rappers that came my way claiming the King of PediRap throne. Ditua is also an affirmation of who I am and to remind people who is who at the zoo. I was just telling anyone who came my way that they might be tough, but I’m a beast and a king.

I can take them on individually or even combined. I featured my son for a cool intro to the song. I wore it because it was always in my live video recordings, so one time the battery died when I was making a recording and people saw this short clip and demanded that I put it on the song.

THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON YOUR MUSIC CAREER

The internet has had a very positive and beneficial impact on the music business, especially for independent artists. I’m not a signed artist, but I’m fine. I record and share video clips via social media and distribute my own music to all streaming platforms from the comfort of my home.

It worked perfectly for me because now people are looking for gigs, interviews and other stuff. It also depends on your consistency and the quality of your music. I post a video or a song on social media and tomorrow when I wake up it has around 50-100,000 views nationally and internationally.

DO YOU THINK PEDIRAP HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BLOW UP

There’s a lot of potential, look at me now, I’m reaching heights I never thought I would reach, so anything is possible. Opportunities are rare, but it’s up to us to create opportunities for ourselves. The potential for Sepedi hip-hop is there.

I think the biggest challenge is selling the language. People are still skeptical about Sepedi language in hip hop industry. They haven’t accepted it that much or warmed up to it, but it’s progressing well.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NOTION THAT HIP-HOP IS DEAD

This notion is wrong. A lot of people who used to make hip hop music weren’t really into hip hop or talented and some just got lazy. Those who claimed to be for hip hop did so because it was the biggest genre at the time, now they’re doing different things and different types of music. Hip hop is alive, look at me. I even struggle to keep a 9-5 job because hip hop feeds me. I’m touring Johannesburg and Limpopo. People in the industry suppress hip hop. It lacks airplay on radio and television and support at shows and awards.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF RELEVANT

Every time I have something new, I just put it on the internet. Everything that concerns me as an artist or my music, I put it up. I interact with my fans. I make sure I’m relatable and approachable. I attend local events and support other artists and projects.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE INDUSTRY WHAT WOULD IT BE?

If I could change anything about the music industry; It would be for people to value and support real talent, rather than supporting people for who they know or associate with. A co-sign is good, but let it be with real talent. I’d like to see people who are talented make it in the industry, not because they know someone, but because they are talented.

HOW WOULD YOU MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS

I’m not successful, so this is difficult. I don’t know how I would measure my success. I’m still taking off, maybe if PediRap gets bigger than it is now and everyone eats I’d say my contribution to the game can be measurable.

STRUGGLES AS AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST

My music needs to get high ration on radio and TV, but the budget is tight to do certain things like record professional music videos. Shooting a music video requires many things like clothing, props, makeup, locations, etc. The other challenge is that promoters underpay or don’t want to pay at all for performances. It’s a struggle when you have to break even, look good and be in good health and shape to perform every weekend.

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