Feature

This is Stiff Pap: the industrial-post-kwaito duo with a whole new stance on the genre

Their Apple Music EP blurb reads “Where video-game effects collide with Kraftwerk-like rhythms” and I honestly couldn’t have put it better.

Since emerging in 2016, the duo fuse kwaito, gqom, house and hip-hop with an effervescent chain of rap-verses and experimental production. It’s the kind of thing which might make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Strangely uncomfortable, but that’s just what I like about it.

“Online is toxic. You’re behind a laptop or your phone and the humanity goes aside.” Yellow subtitles across the bottom of their EPK drives the point home. Recorded in Red Bull Studios, this 3-minute snippet into the life of Stiff Pap is weirdly tantalizing. All bucket hats and Adidas branding, they’re bringing the hipster into modern African hip-hop – even the early 2000’s Windows logo flanks their own slogan: better, faster, stronger.

Cross-referencing sounds with broad abandon, AyemaProbllem (vocals) and Jakinda (production) shift their feet across genre, the latest result being their Stiff Pap Radio EP. While it never shifts things over to the dark side, there’s something about it which puts me on edge.

Boomerang synths spin through the soundscape of “NNNEWWW”, while “Maradona” drops the kind of dirty bass line which will knock a crowd to their knees. “Yebo” cuts through gratingly, exploring hometown hood themes, injected with a dose of gentrified reality.

They’re spacey and grounded, intimidating and ambiguous all at once.