MUSIC EXCLUSIVE: RxSolo Dives Deeper with ‘Shadow Work’.

The rapper talks audible journeys, influences and the inspiration behind his latest tape.

RxSolo refuses to allow himself to be boxed in. The  22-year-old rapper, producer and DJ has been active in the Cape Town creative scene since 2016, releasing a wide variety of hip-hop and experimental tapes along the way. With an already deep discography, RxSolo continues to expand on his sound and test his range. A feat evident in his latest project, a well-produced abstraction of emotion. 

Shadow Work is “an audible journey of a boy and his best friend”. It is an introspective genre-bending tape; with the artist managing to paint a picture of melancholic thoughtfulness using only sound.

For this Three Magazine exclusive, I asked three questions to get a peek inside of the artist’s head. 

3Q’s With RxSolo

Shadow, your best friend and your dog, was the inspiration behind this tape. Explain the link between your relationship with Shadow and what you describe as the “shadow work” you did within yourself?

Animals know music man. Whenever I played something there would be some sort of response from him and I’d be like “Okay cool you fucking with it.” Shadow was an anchor, and who I preferred to communicate with without any sort of exponential energy being used. So him being gone led to : Shit, who do I talk to?

“I was like: How am I going to get these people to fuck with Hip-Hop fully?”

Throughout the past two years I’ve been diving deeper within myself to figure out : how do I work through these feelings? It made me realise that issues within oneself aren’t fully exterior. Everything that affects us, in a harsh way, is our own doing because we allow those feelings. Shadow led to me going deeper into shadow work and figuring things out more intensely.

At 22 years old you have already seen yourself headline a festival in Hungary. How did this happen and can you describe your experience? 

Ending up in Hungary , doing a Hungarian festival- and also going to London and doing a show there- were lucky opportunities. I applied for a scholarship to go study in Hungary. I thought “fuck it let’s see where it goes.” I ended up getting accepted. It was a very weird music time for me. I was new to the place, I didn’t know who to speak to concerning gigs, there’s the language barrier, the genre/music barrier… A lot of the focus is electronic music so I was like : How am I going to get these people to fuck with Hip-Hop fully?

“In the [local] music industry there isn’t enough room for us to experiment.”

But I met a guy named Issiaga, and he was a part of this collective called ‘Elevated’. He got me gigs in Budapest. Eventually I met an organiser who I didn’t know was an organiser, and he was like, “Hey we’d like to book you for Bankito festival.” Through that group I got a lot of international contacts, which led to me being able to go to London and play at this Camden festival. 

Listening to your discography it’s clear you enjoy experimenting with sound. Who would you say are your biggest influences in production, with a focus on local producers?

It really just comes down to anyone who’s willing to break boundaries and who likes experimenting with sound. It would be people like Flying Lotus, Thundercat, JPEGMAFIA, Tyler the Creator and whoever produces for Childish Gambino. They break boundaries. They don’t want to stick to one sound- they create a new type of sound. A lot of them create a full-on atmosphere. When you listen to their music, you actually visualise or see images, almost like movies. That’s the way I would say I make music. 

Concerning local producers, there aren’t that much. I’m not putting anyone down, it’s just that in the South African music industry there isn’t enough room for us to experiment. In a sense we need to be following certain rules to get to where we want to be, so a lot of experimentation gets halted.

“I don’t wanna be in that monotonous category. I wanna make visual audio things…”

Out of local producers, who really influenced me in a sense where it makes me want to figure out or tap into what they are doing, it would have to be: Daev Martian (his beats are just fucking beautiful) and Skinniez (his production always blows me away).

The majority of my influence comes from the amount of music that I listen to. I listen to a lot of music and a lot of different things… ‘cause a lot of the time when it comes to hip hop – and I’m not shitting on it – it’s very monotonous. That has its place, but I don’t wanna be in that monotonous category. I wanna make visual audio things, storytelling and just creating scenes, painting vivid pictures that you can’t see but you can imagine.

Shadow Work is out now: 

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Words: Gavin Pierce

Article images: Philia / Feature image edit: Zoya Pon