… I Love It Here sonically finds Nasty C at a place where complacency tethers in. In the world of Hip-Hop, such shifts often raise questions about a rapper’s sustained relevance and, in some cases, impact. In his case, this evolution might not be the end of a flourishing era, but perhaps mark the inception of a new, uncharted chapter.
By Emmanuel Okoro
If there were ever a sentiment that Hip-Hop is dead, Africa stands as a testament to the genre’s enduring vitality. Hip-Hop, much like the continent itself, is undergoing a metamorphosis, embracing the richness of rhythms and cultures that define Africa. The South African music industry, for instance, is particularly crafted to make diverse genres find their footing and connect with their respective audience. And such is the case for Hip-Hop and its rap sensation, Nasty C, who has graced the world with his latest opus, I Love It Here.
Born Nsikayesizwe David Junior Ngcobo, the 26-year-old Nasty C started experimenting with rap and learning the art of music production when he was just nine years old. At 14, he released his debut mixtape, One Kid, a Thousand Coffins, in 2012. Two years later, he dropped his debut extended play, L.A.M.E (Levitating Above My Enemies). However, it was his 2015 mixtape, Price City, that placed him on the radar within the rap genre, with his first hit single, “Juice Back”. This track earned him a Best Freshman Award at the 2015 South African Hip-Hop Awards – the youngest awardee to date. It also spawned a remix with Davido and Cassper Nyovest, which was also well-received.
In 2016, the rapper released his debut full-length album, Bad Hair, spawning hits such as “Hell Naw” and “Phases” featuring Rowlene. He took his shot at the mainstream limelight in 2018 with the release of his sophomore LP, Strings and Bling, which amassed critical and commercial acclaim, featuring standout hits like “King” with American rapper A$AP Ferg, “SMA” again with Rowlene, and “Legendary.”
The artiste inked a joint venture deal with Hip-Hop powerhouse, Def Jam Recordings in 2020, which marked a significant point in his career as he ventured into the highly-competitive US market. He released The Lost Files visual EP and Zulu Man with Some Power LP under the imprint, which made waves across the US and also received a warm reception in his homeland, winning “Best Hip-Hop Album” at the South African Music Awards. I Love It Here comes after an intermediary project, Ivyson Army Tour Mixtape, released in 2022, after going on tour in several locations within South Africa.
One cannot forget his contributions to hit singles like Davido’s 2016 track, “Coolest Kid in Africa”, Major Lazer’s 2017 hit song, “Particula”, and Coke Studio Africa’s “Said” with Runtown in 2017. Beyond the music, Nasty C has also expanded his creativity to the small screens, featuring in the recently released Disney+ animated series, Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, and the popular South African TV show, Blood & Water.
With each project, Nasty C pushes his own limitations and experiments with his sound, style, and delivery. For the first time, I Love It Here sees the rapper in a place of comfort and ease, as evidenced by the album cover which captures him, his girlfriend Sammie Heaven, and their son in a scenic location. The project sits atop 19 tracks, where in a runtime of just shy of an hour, Nasty C explores intricate themes and bumpy anthems.
The album’s two-part intro, “She’s Gone & The End”, sees the rapper sombrely visiting the theme of loss. In the first part, “She’s Gone”, Nasty C engages in a one-sided conversation with God about the reasons behind the loss of his mother. The chorus seamlessly transitions into “The End”, an evocative sonic landscape, offering an intimate glimpse into details of his mother’s tragic demise and its impact on his life. The tracks end with an outro from his girlfriend, who leaves a profound statement on the cycle of life. Her presence in the song reinforces the overarching theme of love, loss, and the constant cycle of existence.
On “Endless”, a track masterfully produced by Show N Prove, DJ Khalil, and Tom Goss, Nasty C offers a reflective commentary on the steep price of fame. Against the backdrop of rich basslines, he skillfully addresses the subject of fan loyalty, a loyalty birthed from the dedication that he has poured into his craft. These lines: “Got a couple that’s ready to pop the trunk for the kid/ And a couple that got some junk in the trunk for the kid”, encapsulate the deep connection he has formed with his listener base. One of the album’s lead singles, “Crazy Crazy”, comes next. Here, Nasty C gloats at sceptics who doubt the longevity of his relationship with his lover. He also expresses appreciation for her unwavering support.
I Love It Here sonically shifts with the next number, “Release Me”. Nasty C embarks on a soul-searching journey, attempting to reconcile the image he has projected to his fans with his true self, especially since he became famous at a young age. This introspection also leads him to confront the past, which he wishes to put behind him. In the second verse, he reintroduces himself, “I’m religious, I’m a geek and I’m a sucker for love/ You’ll never guess from how I act up when I’m up in the club.”
A defiant and confident Nasty C bounces on “Fuck That”, self-produced with DJ Khalil. With a repetitive proclamation of “fuck that”, Nasty C establishes his dominance within the South African Hip-Hop scene, as he goes on an ego-driven tirade about his challenges and his ability to stand strong in spite of them.
The track “Broken Marriages” sees the rapper touching on the impact of failed marriages and the lasting scars they can leave on affected families. As he navigates the complexities of his own life, he holds the weight of his past while embarking on another journey with his newly formed family. With expert lyricism, he paints a fear that the cycle of failed marriages may repeat itself in his own life.
Nasty C does not shy away from taking shots at his detractors on “Prosper in Peace”. The track features a verse from American rapper, Benny the Bucher. Throughout the track, Nasty C harps on the envy of his contemporaries who constantly perceive him as a threat. However, he also highlights his own resilience to have navigated such situations while remaining focused. The Butcher’s verse adds further weight to the track as his perspective seamlessly complements Nasty C’s narrative.
On the ElementZ and Joe Reeves-produced “Sunset Walks”, Nasty C transports listeners to a picturesque setting where he shares a moment of comfort and happiness with his lover. The track features mid-tempo drums and distant sonic elements that create a dreamy atmosphere. Nasty C’s lyrics reflect a desire to cherish this idyllic moment.
I Love It Here shifts into a new sonic landscape with “This Time” featuring R&B sensation Ami Faku. This track embraces a mid-tempo groove adorned with laid-back piano chords and the occasional brilliance of a saxophone. Here, Nasty C balances between being naughty and delivering promises of commitment and devotion. Ami Faku takes on an opposite perspective, conveying a sense of longing and neediness for a lover’s presence in her life. Both artistes create a beautiful interplay with their verses and the chorus.
Nasty C crafts a ballad to the intimate, fleeting moments of a paramour on the album’s midpoint, “I Love You”. The track carries notes of a sensually charged atmosphere. His lyrics paint a vivid picture of their connection, appreciating the intense and thrilling encounters they share together. He adopts Nigerian Pidgin in the first verse, “This gyal no dey tire/ She’s always chasin’ the fire/ If you’re sellin’ dreams, she a buyer”, which adds a rich flavour to the track.
There’s an anthem to resilience and self-worth on “No More” produced by Just Dan, Donnie Katana & DoppyBeatz. Through his lines, Nasty C provides insights into his pre-fame days and his current superstar status. The bubbly song also touches on the allure of a lavish lifestyle, expounded by flashy cars, designer clothing, and, of course, women. The rapper offers a heartfelt tribute to South African Hip-Hop rappers who have departed, including AKA, HHP, and Riky Rick, on the sombre “RIP”. The song also served as a touching homage to their lasting impact on the Hip-Hop scene in South Africa. On “Know Yourself”, Nasty C glides on a bop to convey a message about embracing self-worth. His lyrics are directed toward a lady, encouraging her to recognise her unique qualities, just as he has embraced his own uniqueness.
The Sammy Soso produced “See Me Now” sees Nasty C and Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, Manana, collaborate to create an ode to longing and the desire to reconnect with someone special. The song unravels over a backdrop of lead guitar strings, subtle shakers, and fading basslines, creating a lush sonic scape. Both artistes approach the topic with finesse, delivering sleek and emotionally-charged lyrics.
Manana reappears on “Temptations”, a track that exposes the harsh realities faced by individuals in South Africa, particularly within systems so designed to have them fail. The lines from the chorus, “Genies and them shootin’ stars nowhere to be found/ But temptation’s like your cousin ‘cause he’s always been around”, highlight the absence of opportunities and the difficulty in achieving one’s dream.
“Kill The Noise” is one of the best offerings on I Love It Here. It features Anica Kiana and Maglera Doe Boy. The sparse piano chords and stripped-down sonic elements create a somewhat eerie composition. The trip weaves a vivid tale of someone struggling with domestic violence in a home meant to be a safe space. As the verses and chorus unfold, the survivor ‘kills the noise’ by putting a tragic end to their abuser.
Nasty C crafts an emotional tribute to his dad on “Pops”, expressing deep admiration for the values he has received from him. The mention of spirituality within the lyrics reveals the impact of his father’s influence on Nasty C’s moral standards. Beyond that, the track carries a poignant hope that he can be just as impactful for his child.
Sudden modulations and discordant tunes slide in on the penultimate track, “Hard Choice”, featuring fellow rapper 25K. They explore the drive for success and rising above adversity. This is reinforced in the chorus, “Get rich as fuck or die broke, it’s not a hard choice/ Even though success is such a lonely and a long road”.
He pens an open letter to his newborn on “Dear Oliver”, with the first and second verses recorded a month before and after the child’s birth. This is particularly intentional as the end of the first verse transitions into a faint audio cut of the child being born before the second verse kicks in. “Dear Oliver” is another standout moment that seamlessly brings the album to an end.
I Love It Here stands as a collection of tracks specially curated to celebrate Nasty C’s artistic evolution over time. Much more than that, this album sets him up as one of the best Hip-Hop luminaries on the continent, pushing the genre to even loftier heights.
It emerges on the precipice of distinction akin to the critically acclaimed Bad Hair. However, unlike Bad Hair, I Love It Here sonically finds Nasty C at a place where complacency tethers in. In the world of Hip-Hop, such shifts often raise questions about a rapper’s sustained relevance and, in some cases, impact. In his case, this evolution might not be the end of a flourishing era, but perhaps mark the inception of a new, uncharted chapter.
Lyricism – 1.6
Tracklisting – 1.4
Sound Engineering – 1.4
Vocalisation – 1.4
Listening Experience – 1.8
Rating – 7.6/10
Emmanuel Okoro is a content writer and journo with an insatiable knack for music and pop culture. When he’s not writing, you will find him arguing why Arsenal FC is the best football club in the multiverse. Connect with him on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde