A couple weeks back we introduced you to the music of Clara-T Moloi. We were blown away by her rapping so we had to find out more about the nineteen year old law student. We caught up with Clara at the BAT center and chatted about carving her own path in Durban hip-hop scene.
DIY: Hey Clara, where are you from? I thought you were from Sydenham because the only info I could find on you was that you were in the Randhustle crew…
Clara: The crew, Randhustle, is from Sydenham, well the founding members are. The rest of the crew are from different parts of Durban. I’m originally from Joburg but I’ve been in Durban since I was like 5 so I’m basically a Durban girl. I stay in town in an apartment with my parents and my two brothers.
DIY: Two brothers? Older or younger?
DIY: I take it they were a big influence?
Clara: Quite a bit. I think the basis of my love for hip-hop music comes from them. I never had an older sister so most of the music I listened to came from them, they’d play at home so I was exposed to it and that paved the way for my love of rapping.
I think people need to give artists space to breath. I’m from Durban, I’m representing but I still want to appeal to the rest of the world.
DIY: When did you start rapping and how did you get started?
Clara: It wasn’t like a big thing, it was an assignment I got in school when I was in grade nine, our Arts & Culture teacher asked us to do a rap. She asked to write down sixteen bars about anything and then I performed it in front of my class and everyone went crazy. So that’s when I realised “Oh, so this is what this rap thing is like.” I slowly got into it more from there, started doing open mic sessions at school in grade 11.
DIY: You had open mic sessions at school?
Clara: Yeah, it was a poetry society, sort of. They would have open mic sessions at various schools every second Friday. I got into that a lot more and through those open mic sessions word got out, that’s how the Randhustle crew got word about me and asked me to join the crew.
DIY: Musically, who are your influences?
Clara: So many!
DIY: Pick a couple, who are you into at the moment?
Clara: Right now, I’m feeling TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment), you know with Kendick Lamar. I like a dude called Chance, The Rapper, there’s a chick from Kenya called Xtatic, they’re nice. There are just so many, I listen to Jean Gray as well, Rhaposody…
DIY: So you listen to quite a few female MC’s?
Clara: I try to listen more to them to get a feel of how I can be different from them, but still maintain that kind of appeal.
DIY: What’s it like being a female MC in the Durban scene?
Clara: Well, I’ve really just started getting out there to people but the response has been positive. I haven’t gotten any tough criticism, I think it’s ‘cause I’m doing it well. I think I’m doing it differently from other girls, especially around Durban. When people hear you’re from Durban they want to dictate to you what you must sound like but I’m not like that, I’m not a girly girl but I’m not trying to be hard either, I’m just trying to stay neutral. It’s very difficult because people expect you to sound a certain way because you’re a Durban rapper. That’s the thing though, I’m not a Durban rapper. I’m based here but I’m not gonna start sounding “Durban”. There’s a certain sound from here. Either you have to be like super commercial and rap about going to parties and popping bottles and stuff or you have to rap about being from the townships and everything. I’m sort of in the middle so I think that people can relate to me where ever.
DIY: So you’re trying to carve your own path…
Clara: I’d say originality is one of the biggest things I try to work on, not that I’m trying hard to be different. I’m very aware of what goes on around me. I want to convey a message in my music. When you’re a girl people expect you to look a certain way and they want you to rap really fast even though they don’t hear a word of what you’re saying. Yeah, it sounds dope but when you start talking about things that are real then they put you in a box. So what I’m trying to do is take those two things and bring them together. I’m just starting out, there’s a lot of things I want to do with my music. Things I want to say, things I want to tell people.
DIY: From a new kid on the block’s perspective, how does the Durban hip-hop scene look to you coming in to it?
Clara: I think there’s a lot of room for growth. I think people need to open themselves to different things. It’s hard because they’re used to things being done a certain way but I’m hoping there will be an open mindedness and welcome different sounds and stop being so possessive over artists from here. I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve noticed that if there’s an artist from Durban, there’s a sort of possessiveness over you when you start getting noticed. I think people need to give artists space to breath. I’m from Durban, I’m representing but I still want to appeal to the rest of the world.
DIY: Anything else you want to get of your chest?
Clara: I just think people shouldn’t make assumptions about what other people should look like or sound like. There’s seven billion people in the world and people are so different. We should accept each other for our differences but still be objective. Listen to what people have to say and how they say it.
DIY: That’s some sage advice, thanks for chatting to us.
Clara: Thank you for sharing my music!
*All images © Russell Grant