Just like the title of this track, most rappers ‘ain’t got nothing’ on the legendary ProVerb. One of the front-runners of the African hip hop revolution, ProVerb has 2 critically acclaimed albums under his belt with a third one on the way…
When Tebogo Thekiso, aka ProVerb started rapping in 1999 all he wanted to do was sound cool and be better than the next rapper on the scene, little did he know that he had sparked the flame to a fire that would engulf the whole of South Africa and other parts of the mother continent. 9 years and albums later, ProVerb has built himself a career in the world of entertainment with his ability to craft pictures, dreams and emotions with words as the driving force. His tenacious attitude and not believing in being second best has helped place his name in the hearts and minds of South Africans of all ages and walks of life.
Born in Kimberly in the Northern Cape, or ‘Dime City Rhyme City’ as it’s now commonly known, Verb’s humility, socially-conscious and clean content have earned himself tens of thousands of fans in SA and abroad. One of the very few rappers who don’t use vulgar language in their rhymes, Verb has that widespread appeal to audiences old and young. In 2004 he released his official debut album, The Book of ProVerb, through independent record label Outrageous Records. This album marked the birth of a flourishing career for the Kimberley MC – a true diamond in the rough that would shine like no other. This album featured the massive singles ‘I have a dream’, ‘Microphone Sweet Home’ and ‘Heart Beat’.
Hungry for a major recording deal, Verb left Outrageous Records to sign up with Gallo Record Company. In 2006, he dropped the anticipated Manuscript that included the smash hits ‘Tell Me Tell Me’, ‘Nothin’ on me’ and ‘Raise ‘em up’. At a legendary performance, he took to the stage with Pro and Selwyn for the ‘Three Kings’ launch after they each dropped their solos. After being quiet for sometime to focus on different entertainment avenues, Verb is on the verge of dropping his third album Write of Passage in the first quarter of 2009, his second major release through Gallo.
Apart from the rapping element, Verb presents a Channel O premier hip-hop show “HeadRush” which is screened across Africa, and recently hosted the Hip Hop segment on Jam Alley called “Versus – the ultimate battle of the MC’s.” He was the technical producer of the fresh Breakfast show on Gauteng’s premier youth radio station Y-fm and is now the technical and content producer on the biggest drive – time show on METRO FM “The Avenue 3 to 6 with Glen Lewis and Unathi” and also hosts his own show “The Pro-File” Saturdays and Sundays on METRO FM.
In hip hop, the knowledge of self element is one of the most important, and is most certainly not overlooked by Verb, who has, in the past five years, managed to involve himself with numerous projects for social responsibility as well as commercial endeavours that have grown his reach as an artist and a brand. In 2004 he was involved in the Love Life concept called Scamtho Groundbreakers, which saw him traveling to various parts of the world as part of their Love to be there campaign. It culminated in him recording a song about teenage suicide with a Ugandan MC Lyrical G that they performed at high schools in Kimberly his hometown.
The UN’s Habitat for humanity recognized the influence that hip-hop has on urban youth globally so they decided to use the music and its practitioners to communicate with the youth. ProVerb was invited to be a part of the South African delegation that attended the Global Hip Hop Summit, in Spain and Johannesburg in 2004 and 2005 respectively
In May 2005, the premier of the Northern Cape province, appointed ProVerb as an ambassador of health for the province amongst names like Connie Masilo Furgassen, Desmond Dube, Sophie Ndaba and other celebrities that are linked to the Province. This opens opportunities to do tours linked with health issues. In 2006 SANCA asked ProVerb to compose and record a song for their stop and think anti-drug campaign. The song was featured on the Manuscript album. In 2007, Verb was invited to host the DVD and cover the events around the adoption of the youth charter and the participation of youth from around the continent for the Speak Africa campaign for Unicef. In October 2008 ProVerb was called to attend and participate in the Africa Youth Day celebration in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sealing his commitment as youth ambassador across the continent.
Putting his intellectual project to good use, Verb has also embarked on many commercial and corporate projects like the Willards Chips television advert in 2005, and the Always Ultra Keep Moving Dance Competition in 05 and 06 respectively, where he co-wrote the theme song to the competition with the late Rn’B singer TK and. In 2006 he contributed to the remix version of the JAMALI track MEISHA that was used as the theme song. ProVerb was a judge in both years’ competition. Over the same period Verb was also involved in the Engen Under 18 basketball club finals, as the main entertainment attraction at all the tournaments. In 06 he also wrote the theme song to the launch of the Nike Joga Bonito SA Launch. He performed the song at a private launch on Robben Island, CT, as well as when Nike launched the Kaiser clothing line.
Verb also aligned his brand with the Castle Mzansi Experience throughout 2005, where he performed and MC’ed at several of the events that formed part of Castle’s campaign. As a Graduate in Sound Engineering, Proverb partnered with Damelin Bramley in 2007 as the Face and Voice of the institution, and to give a Full Sound Engineering Bursary to one student for 2008. He was then asked to stay on board as a part-time lecturer for two days a week, lecturing in TV Production and
Radio, which he still does to this day.
Towards the end of 2007, Student Village invited Proverb on the Sprite campus Tour. Travelling to Cape Town, Durban, P.E and Johannesburg ProVerb performed and engaged with students on matters of Hiphop, all the while promoting Sprite. Early in 2008, ProVerb was commissioned to be the face of the FNB word on the street, an FNB, Heartlines and Native Rhythms initiative that encourages young creative people to express themselves and Speak positively about South Africa.
A teacher, a brand, a friend, an MC – Verb keeps branching into new media avenues, expanding the possibilities, that once seemed limited for a small town aspiring rapper.
ProVerb has performed all over the country reaching places like Kimberly, Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Pretoria and in and around Johannesburg. He has also been to places beyond our borders like Zambia, Uganda and India.
In his song writing, ProVerb has managed to strike a balance between maintaining respect amongst his hip-hop peers and critical hip-hop purists but also managing to draw fans that aren’t necessarily hip-hop fans. He is one of the very few rap artists who manages not to swear in his music, which places him as a good role model for the youth that are so directly influenced by hip-hop music. He has songs that appeal to the older folk as well but still manages to be one of the cool. His body of works include songs that are written to be delicate to the ear and those that hit hard with delivery and content to suite. He is able to write songs about love life and shows that he is socially aware on his songs that tackle issues like Abortion, Teenage suicide, Pan Africanism and more.
He has appeared on television programmes that vary in appeal like SABC 1’s WILD ROOM for the very young, to SABC 2’s SPIRIT SUNDAE for the more spiritual mind. ProVerb has also managed to break a culture barrier by collaborating with a rock band on the coca cola collaborations album in 2004, his song with local rock band Tweak, ‘feel it building’, was on high rotation on 5fm and was the most played single from the album. He also has the ability to interpret a corporate brief such that what the client wants to communicate is in a song without losing the “cool” factor that hip-hop possesses.
ProVerb is a true African star that has shown his potential as an artist and a brand that manages to appeal to a wide audience. His good work ethic and unlimited creativity will see him grow to new heights where he can set the standard on how local and even international artists handle their careers as entertainers and as socially responsible citizens. With right resources made available to him he will become the poster boy for South African musicians and youth to look up to. He gets ready to drop his third anticipated album Write of Passage in the near future, but not before the release of his first official mixtape, Off The Books, which includes exclusive unreleased material and freestyles with legends like the late Brenda Fassie and HHP.
As one of the faces on the Converse Legends billboards, corporates are taking notice. It’s time the rest of the globe does too. The possibilities are endless. The legend lives on.