Khayelitsha is notorious for its high rate of crime and HIV infection, but hot young rapper Lyrix is using his lyrics to wipe out the stigma attached to his neighborhood.
Award-winning Lyrix, born Anele Gwente, is just twenty one, yet the artist has eight years of experience under his belt. His career has climbed ‘table mountain’ under PKS Records, with his first ever mix tape selling like ice-creams in summer.
Growing up in the dusty streets of Khayelitsha, Lyrix literally had to dodge stray bullets but maintains that music kept him off the streets. “The studio is my second home. Boys at my age were engaging in gangsterism and I’d write a song about that,” he says.
He admits that his upbringing was like stepping on thorns because he had to go through life without both his parents. “They passed away when we were very young, and my older brother had to make ends meet from the little he earned.”
In fact, in 2014 Lyrix dedicated a song to this older brother. It thanks him for the tireless role he has played in his life and the title is Qhawe, which can be loosely translated as ‘hero’.
“We really struggled but we never went to bed hungry, all because of him. Today I give him the little money I get from my CDs and performances,” he says. (You can watch the YouTube video of Qhawe here.)
Lyrix matriculated in 2012 but could not study further due to financial constraints. “I will save money so I can go study. I want to study Sound Engineering so I have something to fall back on,” says the determined young man.
Lyrix remains devoted to music and organises talent shows that help other youngsters showcase their talents, without charging them a cent. “Our shows offer youth a platform to debate social issues that affect them. They use poetry to share their personal experiences and feelings. If you want to keep youth off the streets, then why don’t you give them an activity to keep them busy?” he says.
His career first blossomed when he shared the stage with famous DJs SPHEctacula and Loyd at Ikasi Experience, performing for more than 3000 fans.
Lyrix mostly performs hip hop music with conscious, thought-provoking lyrics that appeal to emotions, but his versatility helps him adapt to any given genre. “People respond positively to my music and that motivates me,” he says.
His lyrics are not his only strength. The vocals he delivers have also won him the hearts of many Capetonians and his ability to juggle between isiXhosa and English has also attracted to him fans from different races and ages.
At the Hip Hop Kas’lam Music Awards 2013, Lyrix scooped the award for The Best Spaza Artist and one of his songs was also nominated in the Song of the Year category.
Talk about being multi-talented: Lyrix also starred in the local film The Sower – Ukutyala, shot by the Hans K Foundation.
The rising star has been featured in Daily Sun, City Vision and Kasi Pages, and Cape Town TV (Ctv) also wanted a piece of him.
“I want to prove that it does not matter where you come from, success does not need a visa!” says the performer.
Tell us what you think: Why do you think the youth are demotivated? Whose job is it to inspire them?