You may not know Cape Town-based rapper Middelvinger (real name Jéan Labuschagne) but 100 bucks says you’ve heard of him.
Fokofpolisekar’s 2006 Swanesang features the now-iconic “Bel Vir Middelvinger”, a nod to the rapper’s early days of dealing weed in and around the CBD. Today Middelvinger’s swapped rolling zols for lyrical jols, and as a result has gone from Dealer to Healer with his debut album Boland Bad Boys Vol. 1.
Middelvinger started rapping in his teens but made his mark on the SA music industry behind the drum kit for rock bands like Dead Lucky and Goodnight Wembley. After a shoulder injury forced him out of performing, he was encouraged by those who know him best to make the rap album he’d always wanted to.
Stepping into Fred Den Hartog’s (Die Heuwels Fantasties) Cape Town studio, The Nothing Club, the result is Boland Boys Vol. 1 – a 18-track rap opus with an all-star featuring cast from Mango Groove’s Claire Johnston, to rock legend Francois Van Coke to gqom kings Distruction Boyz.
“This is feel-good music with some crazy rhymes. It’s a blend of that old school ‘90s early 2000s style productions with a modern college hip hop feel to it. It sounds like the beat up system in the Conquest we used to drive around Stellies and sell weed in,” Middelvinger confesses to me and I’m intrigued AF.
Middelvinger’s first single “Weskus Boi” also has heavyweight features in Jack Parow and Andrew Davenport (Thieve) and also has one of the catchiest choruses of any song you’ll hear this summer.
“Me and Parow and Andrew have known each other for long now. Me and Parow go waaaaay back to like high school days when we all use to hang in Onrus for school holidays. Our lives have always intertwined in the music world and finally we got a chance to work together. It was Lekke,” Middelvinger explains when questioned about his debut single.
Long-time friend and collaborator, Hunter Kennedy (Fokofpolisiekar, Die Heuwels Fantasties), who played a crucial role in the creative direction of Middelvinger’s debut, has also been the rapper’s biggest champion throughout this creative process.
“I’ve known Middelvinger for many years. Many, many years. Close to half my life. We [Fokof] even wrote a song about him. But we kind of lost track of each other and so I was extremely excited to hear that he decided to work with Freddy at The Nothing Club. I have to say I love his album. It is insane and endearing and ridiculous. No fukn rules. All truth. I think they created something very special here,” Kennedy declares when asked about his thoughts on Middelvinger’s debut.
Middelvinger’s “Boland Boys Vol. 1” is without a doubt the most eclectic release of the year, fusing genres and tempos with blurring boundaries and conventions.