Sometime in 2018, Rap Religion made a viral thread on Twitter discussing current and upcoming artists in Pretoria’s music scene. While many agreed with the list, others disagreed. And as such — there were rumbles in the city. Others were upset at the omission of some of their favourite rappers. Subsequently, one of the names which stuck was Chris-G. Since then, I’ve paid plenty of attention towards him and a few others from Pitori. His EP, "Mandela in Margiela," gives me an opportunity to dissect and see what all the fuss is about. Let’s dive in.
Mandela in Margiela opens with “Mandela’s Intro”. The album title clearly pays homage to Nelson Mandela’s crowning inauguration where how he wore Maison Margiela. I already see the direction of the project — luxury raps. The intro sees Mandela recite an infamous speech. It sets the tone. Thereafter a glorious instrumental play. This is the type of production that’ll turn any rap fanatic’s head. A guitar alongside chopped soul vocals and sickening drums. “The Hyphen”. On this instrumental, Chris-G sounds immaculate. He’s talking his shit. The wordplay, delivery and flow are sharp. This is how you start a project — it’s a clear statement.
Thereafter, a melody — almost reminiscent of elevator music plays. “St. Marina”. The influences are almost clear here. He’s in that Action Bronson bag. Like Bronson, Chris-G sounds smooth over an instrumental that isn’t really conventional for rap. Due to the syncopated drums, his catches the flow well. On this song, Chris focuses on wealth and luxury. Slick references, nice wordplay and a calm delivery over a unique instrumental. Not many people can rap on something like that and actually make it sound good.
A beautiful almost-orchestra sized string section plays a gorgeous melody. It’s looped around and then… “Atchuuuuu!”. First note, Chris-G’s signature adlib is one of the coldest I’ve heard. But anyhow, back to the music… “Caviar Cartier”. As the name suggests and the instrumental clearly embodies — luxury. The additional bass and drums create a rhythmic groove that sounds super clean. He’s talking his shit throughout and his delivery reinforces the conviction.
“I remember when I skipped school,
When I skipped class,
Man, I failed the test.
My teacher said I’ll never make it,
Now she see me in a Benz.
And I saw her in a Tazz,
Karma a bitch, that’s a fact.”
While these lines are cold, the average rapper wouldn’t be able to make this line sound good for various reasons — bad delivery, wrong flow , etc., but what I find remarkable is his ability to bend words and make shit rhyme when it’s not supposed to. Add into that, a confident delivery and cool cadences? It makes shit hit different.
The EP closer, “Petty Crimes," leaves the best for last. On this song, Chris-G flexes his muscle. Again, the production is elite but more importantly, this is Chris’ best showing as a lyricist. His pen is moving throughout.
“It’s a movie,
Lights, camera, action.
Thought I stay stagnant,
Look at how I’m moving,
I’m making some things happen.
Niggas thought I failed,
But look, I’m still standing,
Your boy still active,
Sort of like Rich Branson.
If you wanna build, we gotta just build mansions,
If you wanna talk, you gotta just talk assets,
I just wanna ball, LeBron, I made baskets…”
One of his biggest assets is his confident delivery. It allows him to get anything off and with a strong pen, this shit sound crazy. It’s a great ending to a project that highlights Chris’ strengths and shows his promise.
All in all, “Mandela in Margiela” is a good project. As a lyricist, Chris shows he’s more than capable. He has a sharp delivery, commanding cadences and nice wordplay throughout. His ear for production is immaculate and he knows what his voice sounds smooth on. Sonically, when assessing Hip-Hop in South Africa, this is an outlier yet it’s a much-needed listen if you love the marriage between a strong lyricist and great production. While I would love to see him play more with flows, content and rhyme schemes, all the songs hit. The project would’ve benefitted heavily from better mixing and mastering as this detracts from the listening experience.
Yet for all its few flaws, this project exhibits plenty of promise. Chris is a talented rapper and musician; I look forward to more releases and hopefully he continues in this vein.
Written by: Dithekgo Mogadime | @DithekgoM