South African Hip Hop Series: Thoughts On The Late Rapper Mizchif

I was home alone one Friday night around 2001 watching, as was tradition, one of the music shows which came on at SABC 1 during that period. It could’ve been Studio Mix during its dying years, or Basiq with Azania, or Castle Loud with Unathi and Stoan.

The first video played after a Telkom ad. It featured a tall-ish man in an afro with what looked like a (mobile) telephone; I assumed it was a continuation of the advert. Roughly ten seconds in, I realised that this was an actual music video and began to pay attention.

I immediately pressed record and managed to capture Mizchif’s “Fashionable” video premiere in its entirety. It was my introduction to an emcee who went on to release one of my first South African hip-hop CD purchases in the form of his 9-track EP Life From All Angles.

He’d be on YFM during the Sprite Rap Activity jam providing a crucial dose of hip-hop news, or on Channel O presenting some video programme or another. He even had a breakout hit with kwaito artist Mavusana called “Summertime” which was big on national radio.

Then, silence!

Forward to 2008. I ran into Mizchif in Cape Town; introduced myself and let him know how much of a fan of his work I was. A year later while hosting a hip-hop show on the campus radio station, listeners would regularly request Mizchif songs to be played.

My copy of Life From All Angles had since been misappropriated, but we managed to find a copy of “Fashionable” on the campus’ local area network and would play it. And thus began my brief re-introduction to Mizchif’s music.

It’s easy to fall into wistful nostalgia and wax philosophical about how ‘great’ and ‘legendary’ he was. Indeed he was a dope emcee. But much like Robo, King Daniel, and to some extent Mr. Fat, Devious, etc., Mizchif has joined a growing line of fallen soldiers who were/are all but forgotten by the movement they helped build.

Instead of reinforcing the ‘poor, starving artist’ trope so commonplace in the music industry, perhaps it’d be best if South African hip-hop came up with ways not only to chronicle its present, but to ensure that the contributions of its purveyors don’t fade into obscurity. If anything, we should do it for posterity, because it’s paramount to ensure that the culture isn’t muddled in the fleeting romance of celebrity. We can start by acknowledging that there are people whose stories need to be told and re-told, because they too matter.

The first (and last) time I saw Mizchif perform was at the South African Hip Hop Awards in 2013. I cannot say I was moved. Not only was he in bad shape, he could barely remember the lyrics, choosing instead to rap over certain parts – as a fan rapping along would. It wasn’t a good sight.

The music lives on!

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”300″ iframe=”true” /]

*Opening image: Mizchif performing at the South African Hip Hop Awards, 2014

*This article is part of Africasacountry’s series on South African Hip-Hop in 2014. You can follow the rest of the series here.

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.