Cape Town hip hop artist Quintin “Jitsvinger” Goliath draws his influence from the 1980s hip hop scene, jazz as well as poetry.
He has collaborated with everyone from Kyle Shepherd to Benjamin Jephta.
Now he has released a long-awaited solo EP, titled Jitsologie and is due to have a full album out early next year. Having been born into a musical family, he said he had always been drawn to music.
“We knew who we were in the 1980s. It was my daily consumption and I could freely express myself as a seven-year-old kid.”
He spent his first year at school in Mitchell’s Plain before his parents decided to move to the northern suburbs.
“I grew up in the state of emergency situation as a kid. They didn’t like the violence and the uncertainty of what’s going on.” He said moving to Kuils River had a big impact on him when he was growing up.
“There was a lot of stigma at school which meant that I could not find my kind of expression. I was always drawn to art because it was fresh in me. My mom used to sing, my father, although he used to play harmonica, was a carpenter.”
As he grew older, he got formal lessons in piano. “That was part of my growing up. Taking the train to Bellville after school, that was my rhythm.” He said he was heavily influenced by 90s R&B and hip hop and later, at school, he got into poetry.
He cites a quote by US jazz musician, Robert Glasper, who said jazz is the mother and father of hip hop. “I like that. If you look at the school system, which is why I called my EP Jitsologie, I’m addressing this education system which seems to protract our skills. It’s a system that just takes us to university.
“In this process, you get the hierarchy of maths and science at the top, humanity in the middle and the arts is right at the bottom. “When I went to high school, music was the last thing that was taught, art was gone. Things you were drawn to as a kid, you were kind of advised not to do. If it’s music you liked, you were told that it’s not a job for you.”
Jitsvinger said that was one of the problems he had with the education system and what was addressed on the EP. He believes a re-think of the education system is vital.
“Intelligence is abstract, intelligence is diverse and intelligence is dynamic. That’s what art allows us to do. Within art you can actually look at maths differently,” he said.
He has been a performing artist for more than a decade, having studied graphic design at the College of Cape Town. He then started making his own music.
“To come back after 10 years, it allows me to take it and reflect on where we are.
“Hip hop was and still is the mouthpiece for critical thinking and that goes across the board. We can address economic inequality, which needs to happen now due to this gentrification that’s happening. Businesses are pushing out communities, when has that started being a thing. It has become dangerous. People are becoming angry, desperate and frustrated.”
Hip hop, he said, spoke out against power, with power. And while hip hop had changed a lot from when he was influenced by it as a child, he said, there were still some communities that celebrated and championed it.
“What is important for the younger generation to practise, is variety. Those trap beats, it’s a fad. The variety and diversity of our culture needs to feed hip hop. We should be a world hub for hip hop.”
He added that he had learnt a lot about stage presence and his performance through working with various people throughout the years. One of these teachers, he said, was Melanie Sholtz.
“She taught me to be the best in what I do, through just keeping it sharp. Even if you are rehearsing, keep it sharp.
“When it came to the production and beats on the EP, he refers to another big 1980s influence in US hip hop artist, Big Daddy Kane.
“He says if you make a track and it’s about the beat, it’s a trend. If the trend is gone, you’re gone. I’ve learnt too much to be doing it in one way and to stick to one aisle.”
As well as the release of the new EP earlier this month, Jitsvinger is looking forward to another solo tour of the Netherlands later this year. He said the reaction that he got from audiences on his previous tour of the country had been encouraging and that he was looking forward to going back.
“It’s pushing the limits again in terms of language and stage presence.”
He hosted a special performance for the launch of his EP at the District Six Homecoming Centre, in the city centre over the weekend.