CAPE TOWN, (The Southern African Times) – The eloquently spoken lyrical genius and skillful musician, Bonginkosi Mahlangu, popularly known as Kid X has released his highly awaited body of work, ‘Father of Zen’. True to his deftness with words, Father of Zen not only refers to the title of his album; it also speaks to him being a father to his daughter, Zen, as well as his spiritual journey that has not only helped him find a sense of inner peace through meditation but has also inspired his latest album.
Father of Zen sounds like a journey of mindfulness, self-introspection, and authenticity. The release this album has been highly anticipated due to the audience’s sheer eagerness to hear the direction Kid X would take with this album especially because he is known to explore different sounds which results in hits such as Caracara and Mtan’Omuntu, both different sounds and genres but equally skillfully made. Furthermore, with conversations about SA hip-hop dying, hip-hop fanatics have said Kid X is one of the artists who could save SA hip-hop. Kid X says Father of Zen is rather the evidence of his growth as a person but also as an artist- he has become more intentional with the music he releases.
The hip-hop maestro took time to speak to our Lifestyle and Entertainment correspondent Leo Muzivoreva. In the interview, Kid X points out his aspiration to make fans more conscious about the art behind his or every other musician out there. He reiterated that as an artist, the sound and art behind the music is intentional and people should embrace the music as is even though they might think it is not as groovy as expected. Here is the interesting conversation with KiD X.
L.M: Perhaps the most charismatic hip-hop artist in South Africa, please tell us more about Kid X, birth name, background, and what inspired the stage name Kid X?
KiD X: My birth name is Bonginkosi Alard Mahlangu, I was born in 1988 in a small town called Middelburg in Mpumalanga. I fell in love with HipHop in 2003, I was in grade 9 and had formed a group called Lyrikal Assassins with my current DJ, Mista Saint. The stage name was BoneX then and was inspired by a graffiti interpretation of the Orlando Pirates football club logo.
L.M: The new “body of work”, Father of Zen, takes us through the thought process of coming up with the tracks for the album, on average, how long did each song take to be done?
KiD X: The project unfolded as I was making it. At inception, the album was called something else and went through about three other titles before it settled on #FatherOfZen and that was largely inspired by the birth of my daughter. The time spent creating each song differs, certain songs came together in a couple of sessions, other songs in a single session, there’s songs that took as long as 3 years to write. The process was very free-flowing and really allowed each song to come together in its own time.
L.M: We understand you were with CashTime alongside K.O then Rap Life with Kwesta amongst others. Was the Father of Zen, released under a stable of sorts or it’s an independent project?
KiD X: This current project is an independent release licensed under Sony Music.
4. You took quite a bit of time before releasing this new album. What has been happening in the background?
KiD X: Yeah, It’s been three years since my previous release. A lot of life has happened in between then and now. I have experienced a lot of personal growth and have gotten married and became a father in that time. All my experiences have allowed me to tap into a different level of expression, which I’ve documented in the current body of work.
L.M: You seem to be a really proud family man. Did that influence your lyrics in any way of course given the fact that you named the album after your daughter?
KiD X: It certainly has affected my life in a positive way, and that trickles down to my music and how I approach it. I’m more mindful of the messaging that goes into my music and how I put myself out there. The music we make is a soundtrack that people model their lives around. I wanted to create something positive that would steer humanity to a better place than we currently find ourselves.
L.M: Does your Ndebele background also influence your music? If so, in which ways?
KiD X: Being Ndebele is responsible for the colorful way in which I show up in the music. I don’t limit myself to a specific language, genre, or style. This approach is something I largely attribute to the colors that are associated with my tribe’s attire, which also can be seen in our traditional art form called “Umgwalo”.
L.M: With the global rise of Amapiano, are you optimistic about the opportunity this may grant SA hip-hip and what role do you intend to play to make that a success?
KiD X: Amapiano is a South African genre, and it just needs to link up with hip-hop and to become a new subgenre called whatever it will be called. That will allow SA hip-hop to still be relevant. And we see artists dabbling into it, and the worlds are slowly starting to merge. Once we get more SA rappers on ‘piano beats, even ‘piano as we know it is going to be forced to change because hip-hop has always been more lyrical. So once we start putting out music that is more lyrical on dance beats, the audience who usually likes less lyrical stuff is going to want more. There is actually an Amapiano track on #FatherOfZen featuring Soweto’s Finest and Fiesta Black titled Skeem Saam. We are already part of the movement.
L.M: Hip-hop music is always associated with drug abuse. How do you deal with it since you are of sober habits?
KiD X: The easiest way I’ve found to deal with it is to substitute habits that affect your wellbeing over the long term with habits that benefit you. In my case, I resort to practices like Meditation, which help me with mindfulness and allow me to be comfortable in my own skin and to confront the issues that I would previously be trying to escape.
L.M: Now that the album is out, and the pandemic is almost a thing of the past, can we expect a Father of Zen tour?
KiD X: Most definitely planning a tour for the project, I want people to get a real experience of some of the music but also get to engage and unpack some of the subject matter and solutions that we touch on, on the body of work.
L.M: Any words for upcoming artists out there who look up to Kid X?
KiD X: Keep working on your craft and focusing on improving and becoming the best version of yourself.
(Report Compiled, written by Leo Muzivoreva edited by Farai Muvuti and James Reeve)