DJ Rell, as his new persona suggests, Morale has not stepped away from the mic, but rather adopted a new passion – one for the decks. We got chatting to the rapper/DJ on his new passion and how he’s hoping to master both crafts, one hit at a time…
How did you get into DJing and how serious are you about this art?
I am dead serious about being a hip hop DJ who’s still a prominent rapper. I got into DJing through clubbing a lot in Joburg and hanging around PS DJs. I was not particularly happy with the type of music I heard in the clubs. Guys like DJ Cleo, DJ Sbu and DJ Tira influenced me to reinvent myself also as an artist DJ as they are artists and DJs. I also learned musically a lot about hip hop just by DJing. For me it enhances my movement as a Rapper.
Where does the Djing thing leave your rapping – can you master both?
The DJ thing goes hand to hand with my rapping. It actually makes me extra versatile and more of a multi talented entertainer. Rapping is the core of my business and that will always come first. After a performance I can always hit the decks and DJ at a function I performed at instead of popping bottles. For me its all about the love for hip hop and growing my ways of income. I certainly hope to master both art forms in perfect balance.
You’re on a path of reinvention. What inspired you to switch your career up?
I looked at what’s happening in the streets and DJs are the foot soldiers of the culture of rap and have a huge influence on what gets played. I wanted to also have more channels of playing my music instead of just radio and TV. From the studio to printing the songs on wax and to hearing the music in the clubs, I wanted to be the master of my fate. Hip Hop started with the DJ and the Rapper and I wanted to be that combination. Its Morale aka DJ Rell, I am a rapper and a DJ. I am commercially the first of this kind. I am evolving into something that’s influential and really cool. I can touch people with my songs and other people’s songs.
Do you think you get the recognition you deserve for your music?
Well I could never say so much or that much recognition is ever enough. Artists should never be happy with the recognition they get, they should aim for more. Hence why I’m a DJ that will make sure my music gets more recognition in my sets. Not just my music but other local music.
What’s in store for you as an artist and DJ in 2014.
Under Morale I’m doing big things this year, I’m dropping a few singles, the first one being “No More” and towards the end of the year I’ll be dropping my album called Only Gotta Lifetime. Expect some hot music videos from me. As DJ Rell, its going to be an exciting journey for me as I will be hustling DJ opportunities and joining prominent events companies to give you the best entertainment. I will try merge the two art forms in my performances and sets. Djing for me will add more colour to my brand. I have the talent to express myself musically in more then one way.
Take us through the making of your single with Kelly Khumalo. What was that experience like to work together and can we see many more cross genre collaborations coming through.
Working with Kelly Khumalo was a blessing. She is so full of life and many people don’t know that she is spiritual and deep. Despite how much the media takes jags at her she is one of the realest people I know. Me and Kelly started off with a bang, she was so real when I met her. After my motorbike accident and recovery she sensed I was going through a grey area in my life. I opened up to her and we decided to make a song together. Its the first single I have ever released with a female feature. I laced my vocals first and she later on came up with the chorus and recorded it at Hallo Production studios with myself and Pricha. After the song was done Kelly was 100% supportive and present to get things popping with the joint until we shot our music video.
What are your thoughts on the rap scene at the moment – are you happy with what’s filling up radio airwaves?
Our biggest adversary as local artists is foreign music taking 70% of our playlist. Our radio, Music TV CHannels and clubs play 70% American music, 20% Nigerian and 10% South African. We have so much music but media is not putting it out. I’m also not particularly happy with local rappers trying too hard to sound like Asap, Future and other international rappers. Local rappers have enough heritage and personal stories to tell with their own tones and styles. “Turn Up” is nice but its not all we can offer. I would like to see SA rappers invent a new sound and make their content more then just about what rapper Future talks about. I think we have a lot to offer then just copycatting.
As a DJ, how much local do you play in your sets seeing that you’re also an artist who needs airplay by other DJs.
Well I play according to the crowd and place I was asked to play. I do make it my agenda to play more local rap music then most DJs. You can book me at firstname.lastname@example.org