Who is Don V,what does he do as a creative and what’s your contribution to Hip-Hop culture?
Don Veedo is from Tembisa, East Rand representing. I wear many hats in these creative spaces: Content Creator, Voice Over Artist, Emcee and Writer. I’m also a founder of Famo Clothing.
My contribution to Hip Hop culture is emphatically applying my skillset of making music that not only attracts the SA battle rap community but different markets out there in the world. And as much as battle rapping is not that big in SA, I wish my battles can reach out to international platforms but of course that comes with a lot of personal branding and local support.
-You have been active in South African battle rap since the first battle league Art Of War.Tell us what attracted you to battle rap &what are some of your favourite memories since you stepped in the game?
I have said this before, Pac’s Hit Em Up and Biggie’s Juicy got me hooked. I think it’s because of the way the beef was fed to us by the media. The whole East and West rivalry was crazy to me. The way Pac was portrayed on TV with the whole aggressive personality on cam and then Biggie’s with the microphone murderer image because of his distinct style of rap in my subconscious mind this molded my passion for the art of battle rapping.
I have countless memories from MC Africa, Jozi and Tembisa street cyphers, Back to the City, Art of War and Scrambles 4 Money. But Adamus battled one of the greats in my hood Mad Pro and Digital Fungus, that’s way back between 2005 – 2009. That real and raw off the dome battle rap format was exceptional from these kats. I stood there thinking daaaang, I wanna reach this level of freestyling. I became a student of the game at that moment with my consistent involvement in cyphers.
-You are considered one of the top 5writers in South African battle rap,what’s your creative process when writing&preparing for an opponent?
Without giving too much of my weaponry, all I can say is I’m a very strategic battle rapper. I study my opponents especially their best battles and prepare the dopest material either to level up with them or just technically surpass their approach to get a win. And the fact I’m a post-graduate student and still have a 9to5, I always need like a month or 2 to prepare for my battles. It’s not easy to juggle all these things. Lol fans or other battlers might think shit Don sucks but naaah famo, I still gotta win in life outside of battle rap. I write all my bars in the taxi going to work and coming back. I get inspiration in crowded spaces without alcohol or even a blunt. I come up with the best bars straight sober you dig!
-Don V vs Kriss Anti B is a certified classic not only in content but its also the highest viewed South African rap battle since the days of Scrambles4Money.How important was this battle in resurrecting the culture locally?
To be honest, the story behind Don Veedo and Kriss Anti B going into the battle was the reason why the battle rap community got plugged into the culture again after Scrambles stopped hosting events. The importance of the battle lies in the fact that it has been brewing for years and it was a good start in the new chapter of birthing Hip Hop 411. Look at where the battle league is at now, events and shows that earthed dope spitters that I believe will reach that 14 000 views me and Kriss managed to pull up.
-You recently released your debut solo musical record “TATS&VANS”. What’s the meaning of the album title in relation to the content in the album?
Simple. As much as there can be music trends or rap evolving into what it is right now with trap being dominant, my approach will always be different, and I’ll do music the way I see fit. From the beat selection, subjects I rap about, what I represent, and my image will not be compromised to fit what’s popular. I struggle to follow trends hence I chose to sell honesty in this project. So “The Way You See Fit” I specifically emphasized the personal pronoun ‘You’ to talk to non-mainstream artists out there to say always do you and don’t follow a format so you can fit in.
-Through your Hip Hop journey you’ve been a part of a few strong indie hip hop crews,i can remember MIND APOKALYPSE &AUDIO TIMELESS MUSIC top of my head.The streets have always wondered why A.T.P broke up,do you mind telling us the backstory?
In life you come across people and create relationships. Some really work out and some just don’t. It’s not easy to keep relationships healthy with different personalities and mindsets in one space forever. ATP we are still close and musically everyone is kinda doing his own thing. Kev is still killing beats, Didge is about to drop his solo project, Paradox and Lab are out there chillin’ but still connected to the culture. Oh shit Mind Apokalypse! It’s all in the past yo.
-Who determines what sort of content &message you showcase on the art you create,you?or your audience? or your team?How important is Creative control to you as an artist?
I’m independent and not ready to get signed yet. Therefore, I own my masters and I control every piece of content I put out musically. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have people around me that have an opinion in the art that I create. The producers and engineers I worked with have played a significant role in putting together The Way You See Fit. My friends too in this regard.
-You are an independent artist.Enlighten us on some of the hardships and difficulties that come with being an independent artist and would you sign a record deal with a major record label if it meant losing your creative control for a bigger budget to market and sell your music and brand?
The hardships of being independent means extracting some cash from your salary to pay for recording, mastering, photoshoot, graphics for the project and of course the music video. It would be dsope to have a support system that will cover all the costs but so far I’m not comfortable with the idea of not owning my music. I’m okay with the pace that’s maintained so far without a bigger budget from a major record label. I work hard to put my music on streaming platforms like Spotify and Itunes. It’s a process that eventually pays off when you believe in yourself. The Way You See Fit will be increasing on Spotify and ITunes as far as sales are concerned. Famo Clothing will be sold big in different markets and I’m just putting this out there to the universe. One thing I’d like to get down to though is a publishing deal. That should be working out soon.
-What are some of the things you feel the South African Battle Rap community can improve on to make things better when covid ends?What can the leagues,the rappers and the fans do to make it better?
The SA battle rap community is fragmented. A bunch of battle leagues are popping up but I don’t think we support each other as we should. We haven’t built strong relationships within the culture that help us pack venues in Jozi, Durban, Bloem and Cape Town. This is where we need to improve on, a unified voice that’s loud enough to promote every single battle rap event that goes down around the country. Get the Skrap has played a role in in this regard but we all need to be involved in viewing the battles, watching them, downloading and sharing, and create conversations around these battles to activate social media presence for local battle rapping. I haven’t mentioned the monetary side of things yet to all of this because without a collective involvement of battle rappers and fans this culture is not going anywhere. We are currently so low on analytics compared to the U.S. We are not reaching a stage where we can use our YouTube views to pitch for funding to brands. Scrambles landed a Monster sponsor at least. It paved the way. So, before we stress about making things better through funding, the culture needs a strong support system from within so we can slowly attract monetary interest from the outside looking in.
-Tell us your favourite battle you ever participated in and won,and what’s the worst battle you ever been in and got bodied in?
Me vs Fahrenheit is my favourite battle so far and of course I won. My worst battle I have to say Chro way back at Scrambles 4 Money. I know how and why I lost that battle. It wasn’t a body though.
-Who are the 5 most influential musicians on your musical style?
Black Thought, Cyhi the Prynce, Elzhi, Supastition and Tumi.
-Top 5 most influential battle rappers on your battle rap style?
Iron Solomon, Hollow Da Don, Murda Mook, JC and O Red.
-Whats next for Don V,what should we be expecting from you as a creative going to the future.Where can people follow?
I’m working on my next EP titled Down to Blackity 26. My Famo Clothing brand is launching soon. People can follow me on Facebook and Instagram as Don Veedo and Twitter as Don Veedo Famo.