“My parents were both teachers, so imagine you’re in Grade 10 and you sit them down on some, ‘I’m quitting school,’” says Cassper Nyovest in one of his songs. He was only 16 years old when he quit school to follow his dreams of being a musician. Fast forward to 2014, Cassper resurrected Mzansi Hip Hop and became the wealthiest rapper in Mzansi! But, who’s this Cassper, and what records did he make and break?

Who is Cassper?

Cassper Nyovest was born Refiloe Maele Phoolo in 1990 in Mahikeng, North West. He’s a rapper, songwriter, record producer, and entrepreneur and is regarded as one of the most successful artists in South Africa.

It was in 2007 that he decided he was quitting school to focus on his dreams of being a musician. In 2008 he left Mahikeng for Johannesburg with only R100 in his pocket, which was his little sister Tsholofelo’s money for transport and lunch.

Upon his arrival, Cassper soon realised that the City of Gold wasn’t as glittering as he had imagined. He found himself homeless and having to crash at a friend’s place. This happened for five years before his big break came in 2013.

Cassper Blows Up and is Doc Shebeleza!

“I used to squat at Nissy’s place at the beginning of the end of my [terrible] days. There’s only so much pain that we could take until we break. I was tired of hand-in-mouth, I needed more paper. I needed a song that’ll mess the whole game up – and I found it!” Cassper’s lyrics read on one of his songs.

After establishing his high-ranked record label Family Tree in 2013, Cassper went on to release his debut single ‘Gusheshe’ that same year. As the title suggests, the song paid tribute to the iconic and most loved BMW Gusheshe car and it is no wonder the song became an instant hit!

However, the song that shot him straight to stardom and cemented him as the biggest artist of that year was ‘Doc Shebeleza’, a tribute to his childhood idol and Kwaito veteran, Doc Shebeleza. The song’s catchy hook, “I’m Doc Doc Shebeleza, I’m Shebeleza” became an anthem and every car from the hood to the ‘burbs was bumping it! The then long ponytailed muso was now climbing the ladder of success.

In July 2014, he released his much-anticipated debut album named after his sister Tsholofelo. The album was a huge success, peaking number one on the iTunes SA album charts for two consecutive months, July and August. In October that same year, he raked in more bragging rights as he was ranked number one on the MTV Base show, named The Hottest Artist in Africa, and was put on the second spot on MTV SA’s Hottest MCs.

With the success of Tsholofelo, Cassper saw it fitting in 2015 to release the platinum edition with new songs featuring one of the best international artists such as Wizkid and Anatii (who both later featured on Beyoncé’s ‘Brown Skin Girl’). Tsholofelo has since gone double platinum with over 100,000 copies sold and the platinum edition only had a limited 10, 000 copies.

Cassper Fills Up the Dome!

It all started with a tweet from Cassper, “I want to fill the dome, which currently accommodates up to 20,000 people… to its full capacity!” and then that tweet became history! Cassper in 2015 successfully became the first local artist to sell out the Ticketpro Dome in Joburg. That milestone gave birth to the #FillUp series where Cassper challenges himself yearly to #FillUp a certain venue just for control!

In 2016, just when people thought he had done it all, he took it a step further and filled up Orlando Stadium selling almost 40,000 tickets. As if that wasn’t remarkable enough, he announced he was planning to sell out the biggest stadium in Africa in his #FillUpFNBStadium. He sold out a record of 68, 000 tickets!

“My first one-man show only had twenty people. But those twenty people came to see me so I told myself that if I impress them, they will definitely go tell one friend and my next show will have forty people. We kept on repeating the same formula till we had 68 000 people at FNB stadium,” he had posted on Instagram.

His last concert was held in 2019 where he took it back home and attempted to fill up Royal Bafokeng Stadium, which was the fifth #FillUp in the series. Africa Facts Zone has since certified the #FillUp series as the most successful solo-concert series in history!

Now, not everyone who quit school in Grade 10 will go on to be as successful as Cassper Nyovest. But his story proves that whatever you can conceive, you can achieve. Cassper believed he could do it – and he did!


Do you know who the kind of trap is? Read here to find out.

Tell us: Are you a fan of Cassper Nyovest? What did you learn about his journey?