After a long day in studio Uno July’s 24 hour project is a wrap. With 12 tracks the Zero Hour Zone LP features a host of talented local producers and rappers. Moving away from the true school sounds he is known for and adding contemporary textures to the sound the release features productions by AK, J1, Kae B, Desert_Head, Psyc and Skinniez. Despite this evolution elements of boom bap are still present.
The album also features a host of talented rappers from the established to rising stars. Maglera Doe Boy, SimmySimmyNya, Corbon Amodio, & Camo all make an appearance as does the Grandmaster Ready D, bringing his signature scratches into the mix. Producer and engineer, Kay Faith took the lead as head engineer pulling the recording together and Ernest Mojela heading up the styling.
Apart from recording, mixing and mastering the entire album, they also shot a music video and hosted a launch party at Yours Truly. With an unexpected power cut causing an unplanned move to Cape Audio College to finish off mixing and mastering the day was not without it’s challenges. We took an exhausted but exhilarated Uno July aside for chat about the project.
It’s been a long day in studio, how does it feel to have finished the project in such a short amount of time?
I’m not surprised right? But I feel an overwhelming feeling of humbling. Levels I can’t really describe. But it’s like “hell yeah!”. I came in confident, I knew I was going to do it and I feel this unleashed from the inside. This is exactly what I wanted to say or do, because they’ve been skeptics. People believe as well, quite a large number of people. I’m very excited more than anything. I’m proud of myself.
How many tracks did you manage to lay down today?
I’ve got 12 including an intro which was done separately by Corbon Amodio. He’s a new kid on the block. He’s up and coming. He’s very obscure, very alternative sound, you can’t even put him in a box. It’s just in it’s own corner. It’s amazing what he does.
You collaborated with a large team to make this happen, what’s it like working with others?
I feel like the 24 hour project is about collaborations. Not only rappers and vocalists but producers, engineers, stylists, filmmakers, photographers, it’s a whole melting pot. But if we’re talking about features there’s quite a few. SimmySimmyNya being one of them, another new kid on the block. He’s on the up and up. There’s Camo, there’s Reason and the list goes on. I really would have love to have more but, you know, time constraints…
In terms of the writing what were you exploring? Was there a cohesive theme?
Uno and Only was the most cohesive album, which was the tape I dropped earlier this year. It was more cohesive conceptually, where I reflected a lot on my past and going through my journey. But with Zero Hour Zone I felt like I lived two sets of lives in one year. Where I created a passion project initially, but now after it was out it garnered so much attention I felt like I could live and be in certain spaces where I soak in all this positive energy and sometimes negative energy. And it’s like “wow! I’m in the game now”. So I felt like I could touch on these experiences that happened throughout the year and it has to do with being an artist in the game. So it’s socially acceptable compared to the passion project which is for me.
In terms of the beats and producers on this project, were you aiming for a specific sound or trying to showcase certain producers?
This is my most commercially driven sound. It has new age textures. You still find nuances and the true school side of Uno July. The boom bap, the hip hop. But generally throughout it was about a vibe. That’s how I like to describe it. It’s a vibe. I want when people listen to it to feel the experience. You’re listening to Uno July right now, it’s incomparable. You can’t put it next to anyone else. I’m doing something that could be popularised, it has a lot of potential to go to the mainstream and penetrate it, but original fans can still embrace it.
What were some of the challenges you faced today?
This day felt like a whole week. There have been obstacles, challenges. What’s crazy is that while I was preparing the 24 hour project I didn’t feel anything that threatened to derail it. I mentioned to a friend that nothing’s gone wrong. Maybe I’m superstitious, but then this happened and I was like ah! But basically what happened is that the electricity went off on Bree street, it’d happened during the week when I was at the Studios, but it was fixed overnight. But I didn’t think it would happen again, so yeah electricity went off, but luckily we were 11 tracks in and I just had to do an ad lib for that track and we had one more song to record so we’re now at Cape Audio [College]. We had to take the whole machine from the Red Bull Studios and take it to Cape Audio for mixing and mastering. So I’ve very, very grateful for the way Red Bull’s been helping me, even in a deep crisis like this. I don’t know many people that can bend over backwards for me.
What’s the standout track on the album for you?
It’s tough. When I was recording there was a song that I didn’t think was gonna bang. I knew it was gonna bang, but not like this. It’s a song called Fokofpolisiekar. I hope they’re not mad at me, but it just felt like I should say it. It’s produced by Desert_Head from Christian Tiger School so it’s very in-house, Cape Town. It’s heavy trap meets gritty rock samples. It’s wild. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the people’s favourites, but Witness my Growth is definitely my personal favourite, it’s what I’d play in my bedroom.
You also shot a music video today
Yeah I shot a video for a track called Sugile. I hate it already because it’s going to be a big song. It’s catchy as fuck. I can hear this everywhere. In taxis, radio… It’s slang from Gugs. People love to party there and they dance and they have this slang. Sugile! It means like “Yo, it’s going down! It’s lit!” It’s got a deep meaning. Sugile! Sugile! Sugile! It just grabs you. You can’t miss it. It’s going to be a big song definitely. We shot a music video for it and it’s going to be epic.
What’s coming up for Uno July in 2017?
I have no idea. I just want to travel. Which is why I wanted to do the 24 hour project before the end of 2016. A lot of people were pushing me to do it early next year, but I don’t wanna be in Cape Town. Go overseas.