The Black Consciousness Movement is at the heart of his music and has shaped him as a man, says ProVerb. He has taken the words of Martin Luther King Jnr and the writings of Steve Biko and used them as the basis of his songs to get a message across to his many fans. Media Club chats to the rapper.
From rapper to Idols producer, ProVerb’s career has been varied and vast. (Image: Supplied)
Media Club South Africa reporter
ProVerb has been in the music business for more than a decade. Best known as a rapper, he has also done time as a presenter on Idols. His music and lyrics are influenced by the black consciousness philosophies of South African activist Steve Biko and American leader Martin Luther King Jnr.
Considered by many to be one of the luminaries of South African hip-hop, he is a reference for those who look to the music as a means of keeping themselves informed and of sharing their ideals. He speaks about how black consciousness – both the Black Consciousness Movement started by Biko in the 1970s and the philosophy with roots across the black diaspora – has shaped him as a man and influenced his music.
Media Club South Africa: What is your definition of black consciousness?
ProVerb: Being aware of who we are from an identity point of view, in terms of ideology and our roots. Also what our aspirations are not only as individuals but as a community. Black consciousness as a mindset structured by knowledge of self and forward-thinking.
MCSA: Is black consciousness relevant today?
PV: Black consciousness is more relevant today than ever before purely based on the direct link between the ideology and our identity. Modern black South Africans have grown conscious of their roots and further embrace the reality and beauty in being black.
MCSA: Judging by your hit I Have a Dream, it is clear that the Black Consciousness Movement has a direct influence on your content. How accurate is this observation?
PV: The forefront of the Black Consciousness Movement is composed of aspiration, confidence and forward-thinking. This is clearly evident in my song I Have a Dream that I not only titled after Martin Luther King Jnr’s speech, but continued to glorify it by quoting it in the chorus. The subject matter in the song further validates my interpretation of the movement through lyrical content where I intertwined the ideology with rap music, successfully capturing the essence.
MCSA: In I Have a Dream you are fixated on the ideals of King. Which other pro-black activists have made this sort of impression on you?
PV: Martin Luther King Jnr made a tremendous impression on me and so did the likes of Steve Biko, Che Guevara, Oliver Tambo and Tata Nelson Mandela. The common thread that links these great leaders is that they fought for the benefit of the greater rather than their own. In essence I draw inspiration from their selflessness.
MCSA: Is there a link between your recent hit Writers Club and Biko’s words in his compilation, I Write What I Like?
PV: Steve Biko coined the line first but he gave birth to a new concept using the line, thus illustrating my in-depth understanding and awareness of the roots of the movement as a whole.
MCSA: In your opinion, why is it necessary to use hip-hop as an avenue to explore and promote black consciousness? And has hip-hop successfully interpreted the essence of black consciousness?
PV: Hip-hop is a powerful tool and medium to communicate to peers, youth and any like-minded, forward-thinker. Hip-hop has, in fact, successfully interpreted the essence of black consciousness.
MCSA: What can we expect from you in relation to black consciousness in the near future?
PV: One of the cornerstones of the Black Consciousness Movement is forward-thinking, identity and aspirations. As long as I am consistently moving forward and growing as an artist and as a man who not only understands but also embraces my roots, I will always be about black consciousness.