Spotlight on: Dada Shiva

May 02, 2017

Dada Shiva is a rapper-producer based in Cape Town. His sound explores the construction of polarity through the projection of multiple personalities within single tracks. "Dada" is both a reference to Nas' nickname, "Da don Dada," and Dadaism, an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th Century. We talked to him about his early years moving around Africa, how he discovered hip hop, what made him get into production on top of rapping and what he’s been working on in studio.

Growing up what kind of music were you surrounded by?
I was born in Joburg but my dad was based in Foreign Affairs so we moved around a lot. I spent 4 years in Ethiopia when I was very young, my younger brother was born there, 4 years in the DRC, 2 years plus another 2 years on and off in Nigeria and then some time in Wales before coming to Cape Town. So the music has been switching up and breaking apart the whole time, but what’s really interesting is that as far as moving in between Africa, it’s really one musical vibe. Especially in West and Central Africa it’s one musical vibe. So it’s been that vibe for a lot of my early years.

When did you discover hip hop and who were your early influences?
Grade 6, Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, the whole lead up to that and it’s release, that was my first hip hop experience. I feel like Lil Wayne is not a human being. Top level inspiration. I feel like I could rap every single lyric on that album. ‘I Am Me’ was the first song I memorised.

You rap and produce, what came first?
Rapping. I was just trying to be like Lil Wayne and the whole of Young Money. Then when I stumbled upon Eminem and Royce da 5'9″ and the whole Aftermath squad, Slaughterhouse and them, the craziest lyricists on earth and I just wanted to do something like that. I started with my friend David, we started as a group Sol. Pandemic we had the hottest raps in the world back then I swear! But we needed beats so I jumped into that. It took a long time for the beats to sound good though.

At first I used to get made fun of by my homies. They’d tell me to shut my shit off! But it was good, tough love and it makes you build. I produce in Logic Pro. It’s really electronic because I don’t play any instruments other than trombone. I like to keep the sound underwater. I don’t know how else to explain it. I play around with organs mostly. I love them because they have a really religious feel and I like to think of myself as a religious figure. That’s the vibe I’m going for when I make music.

What have you been working on in the studios and who have you been collabing with?
It’s going to be a 6 track EP. I’m also going to release an extended version that’s probably going to be 11 or 12 tracks, but I’ve got 14 to chose from right now. I brought in a vocalist called Xola she’s really good. She’s featuring on a couple of tracks. Laid some backing vocals on one and is featuring on another one. She’s got a really soulful vibe but also really young, it’s vibrant. Then I brought through Matt Davies who’s a vocalist and also a guitarist. He laid down some acoustic guitar and some vocals. And Dylan Fine from Beat Sampras, also going to have David the other half of Beat Sampras come through.

Apart from this release what are your plans for the year?
Yeah I've got this release coming up. Hopefully we’ll get it out by June or July. Other than that I’m going to be doing a bootleg project called Bootleg Dada. That’s a totally free release. I’m just going to be rapping over other people’s beats in honor of Lil Wayne. I’m also definitely going to be doing a couple more tracks with Beat Sampras. I’ll be featuring and collabing with a lot more artists. I’ve got an EP coming out with my homie in Denmark, Jakob Littauer, we’re called Mof he’s just mixing that right now. Also doing a Sol. Pandemic tape this year too. There’s a lot of content this year, it’s going to be sick!

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