Tribute to SA rap icon Flabba
Written by: Nhlanhla Sehume
Violent crime in South Africa has reared its ugly head again and robbed South Africa of a musical icon in the form of rap lyricist Nkulululeko ‘Flabba’ Habedi.
Since the news broke of Flabba’s untimely and tragic passing early on 10 March, the Hip Hop industry in South Africa sank into a mood of shock and disbelief as it lost one of its leading soldiers.
As soon as I caught wave of the news on social media – I was overcome by shock and disbelief to think that this hardcore and gritty rapper is no more.
I was first exposed to Flabba’s voice on the smash hit single Rau Rau by hip hop outfit Skwatta Kamp back in 2001 and I admit that that their gritty lyrics influenced me into trying my hand at rapping and taking part in play yard sci-fi’s (rap contests) in my early teens in school.
Flabba is now gone forever.
Many in the music industry agree that Nkuli (as he is known to those close to him) died before his time. He was on the verge of making a comeback in the mainstream music industry. Flabba recently recorded a song with fellow rap star JR called Nay’ Inkinga (Here is the problem). He also appeared on a remix of Kwesta’s Do like I Do.
Flabba, 38, first rose to fame as a member of the seven-man South African rap super group Skwatta Kamp in 2001. The group released their first projects Skwatta Kampian and Khut En Joyn through their independent label Buttabing Entertainment. Khut En Joyn featured the aggressive township song Rau Rau, which tested the limits of radio-friendly rap music at the time.
Flabba, known better for his aggressive and unpredictable lyrical skills set – revolutionised the local hip hop industry – offering a unique style that resonated with life in the township. His punch lines regularly touched on life in his own Township, in Alexandra North of Johannesburg – one such line being “yaz I Alex Yi Kasi La Ma Kasi” (Alexandra is the hood among hoods). In 2006, Flabba released his first solo album ‘Nkuli Versus Flabba’, a 24-track project that won him the SA Music Award for best rap album the following year.
Flabba was killed in his home in Alexandra. A memorial was held for him in Johannesburg on 11 March. At the memorial – family, friends and fans gathered in hundreds to pay tribute to the fallen musical genius, music also blared loudly in the packed Bassline Venue.
Friends and family shared their stories and memories with the famed musician – some described him as “funny”, “a man who loved his work and family”, “humble”, “friendly” and “a soldier who would take a bullet for those close to him”.
Former rapper now turned Pastor, Mr Selwyn, whose real name is Bongani Ngwenya, called for calm as an investigation and court process continues into Flabba’s murder.
On Tuesday, his girlfriend, Sindisiwe Precious Manqele, appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court in connection with his fatal stabbing. The courtroom was packed to capacity and outside court chaos erupted following her appearance.
Local residents clashed with a group of women and a man, understood to be Manqele’s relatives.The two groups traded insults, and the residents insisted Manqele should not be granted bail. No matter the circumstances around Flabba’s death – South Africa has lost another of its finest artists – but his music will live forever.
All will have a final chance to bid the rapper a final farewell when he is laid to rest on 15 March.