It’s a cool afternoon in Waterstone Estate, Sandton, a gated community where Anatii spends most of his time holed up in Studio. He swaggers on to the patio wearing a plain black T-shirt and black cotton pants and looks very relaxed in Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost.
It’s clear that this rapper has his sights set on dominating the South African Hip Hop industry. Anatii, real name Anathi Mnyango first appeared on the Hip Hop scene at age 16.
He produced and wrote the 2009/10 first hit When It Rains for L-Tido. He also collaborated with American producer/rapper DJ Khaled on the single, Bananaz.
“I was visiting Miami and DJ Khaled was in studio and when I played him my music, he liked it and that was it. I couldn't believe it and when I came back home, I played Bananaz. Working with him [DJ Khaled] gave me credibility and recognition.”
The rapper/producer/ songwriter vocalist doesn’t like to be boxed and recalls a pivotal moment while in studio with American singer, Erykah Badu.
“I was part of that recording session and for me to experience that was powerful. Everybody in there was working so hard, the energy and sounds felt real. I eventually fell asleep in the studio.”
Anatii says his album is coming out pretty soon. He hasn’t decided on a name yet but says he might stick with the name he’s chosen. “I got a name already, I’m 70 percent sure I’ll stick with it.”
As a producer, he spends most of his time in studio.
“When I am in studio I’m thinking of beats and songs …everything. My creative process comes from a holistic point of view when I create.”
Creativity is a true expression. It’s my dynamic expression.”
Anatii’s father was a DJ in the 1980s and his grandmother sang in a choir, he credits them as his earliest musical influences. His sister, also a musician, is currently based in the US and Anatii says he’s still moulding her.
At 22, Anatii has carved himself as a sought-after producer.
He was rumoured to be commanding R80,000 for a beat but says “that was misquoted.” When I pressed him for a figure, he didn’t want to reveal his price. The reports of Anatii’s fee for a beat came after AKA took shots at Anatii and his friends Cassper Nyovest and Riky Rick in the track, Composure, a beat produced by Anatii.
“I don’t do diss tracks, no matter how many times you come at me, I won’t respond. I don’t have beef with anybody.”
He admits that there are cliques in South African hip hop. “There definitely are cliques in SA hip hop.”
Anatii worked with AKA also known as the The Supa Mega on The Saga, a track about Hip Hop’s braggadocio culture, that has been blazing in nightclubs. “Gettin’ turned up on a Sunday, cause I’m gettin’ more money on Monday, I take these girls out on Tuesday, and I buy 'em champagne like it’s Kool-Aid” raps Anatii on the first verse. He says on The Saga, he wanted Riky Rick and AKA “but Riky was reluctant to jump on the track.”
He describes working with AKA as cool. “Working with AKA was dope at that time.”
The track scored three nominations in the South African Hip Hop Awards. The Saga won Collaboration of the Year and Video of the year. He says a second follow up to The Saga is coming out soon.
Being part of #FillUpTheDome, where 20 000 tickets were sold and had Cassper as the main act was a blessing, says Anatii. “Knowing Cassper, I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that the Dome was going to be filled. So much work was put in fulfilling that. That’s my brother, and I take my hat off to him.”
He says he supported #FeesMustFall campaign but felt that celebrities that went to the march were there “just for PR purposes.”
As I prepare to leave, Anatii blasts a gargantuan song at top volume from his upcoming album. The unreleased song, with its sonic and thumping beats, is sure to keep fans at nightclubs turnt up [excited].