Riyadh Roberts, widely known as YoungstaCPT is considered one of the most important South African artists of his generation. A celebrated rapper from Wynberg, his debut album 3T won the Album of the Year award in 2019 at the South African Hip-hop Awards. Since then, Youngsta has gone on to become the poster boy for Cape Town music and the voice of the people.
He was raised by a single mother and his grandmother who have both impacted his spiritual life in a positive way. He is a devoted Muslim who comes from Cape Malay history.
In this history of Cape Town and its people Youngsta has taken all over the world with his music. Not shying away from the darkest parts of the city, Youngsta prides himself on showing the good and the bad of this beautiful city we call home.
“If you have ever been to Cape Town you can listen to any of my music and you will understand me and the place I grew up in… I am like your unofficial tour guide. I am not going to take you to Table Mountain with a cable car, but I will take you via another angle… a side that you have never been to before. I’ll give you the other view and perspective of where I am from.”
Five months into the new year Youngsta is fresh off the release of his 32nd project titled “Suffer for Beauty” which is also his second collaboration project with producer Shaney Jay following “Dreams don’t pay bills”.
A lot has happened with Youngsta personally, releasing new music and experiencing grief. Both highs and lows that life has to offer. Here is his story:
Let’s go back to 2017 “Kaapstads Revenge” in the intro of the song a lot was mentioned about peace, would you say that you have achieved this peace? How do you feel now?
No, I definitely haven’t achieved it yet because society seems to be decaying further and further now. More than when I was a kid actually, which is kinda scary but I guess we just have to come up with solutions to fix the problems we can instead of complaining about them forever.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far and why?
I have many, I mean my career is 12 years old now so throughout I’ve had a lot of highlights but I’d say opening for Lil Wayne when I was 19 years old, doing tours overseas in Australia and Europe and opening my store in Wynberg are some of my top moments.
You have achieved a lot of success, when you started making music, did you ever think that you would be able to reach this many people with your music?
I had hoped I would, yes, growing up I was being spoken to by American artists and they significantly changed my life with words so I always wanted to be able to replicate that effect on others.
A lot of people measure success in different ways. What is your definition of success?
When you can take care of yourself and your family using your talent or a skill you’ve developed.
Let’s talk about the Cape Town music scene, how would you describe the current landscape of music in Cape Town ?
It’s been bubbling for a long time but I’d say it’s still young. Only once TV and radio broadcasters come to the party along with the fans and supporters will we see a real development in the music industry but for now the scene is still growing but very healthy.
I know that you have travelled a lot between Cape Town and Johannesburg, many people say that in order to “make it” in the South African music industry you need to move to Johannesburg. Is this true?
Yes it’s true, everything that has to do with entertainment is located in Johannesburg in terms of corporations and companies. From record labels to TV headquarters, not to mention about 80% of the SA artists we’re listening to, so it’s either you’re there or you don’t really exist in South Africa.
Whenever I’ve spoken to younger artists they would always say that they are inspired by you. How does this make you feel? Do you feel pressured at times to give your authentic self when you make music ?
Not really, I always give myself raw and unfiltered but I think that’s also held me back from the commercial space so it’s a catch 22. You give yourself to the fans and they love you for it but the masses want to dance and enjoy life forgetting the outside world and the stress so keeping it real is the noble thing to do but doesn’t always translate to commercial success. I’m just happy to inspire anyone at this point, even if it’s only a handful of people.
A good support system is always good in any creative environment. How has your support system contributed to your overall growth as a person and artist?
It’s helped me be an independent artist for almost 13 years. I’ve always been passionate about music so I hope it shows in what I create.
I’m always giving my fans the best I can, from visuals to mixtapes, to merchandise and live shows so I’ve worked hard to build a following and no matter who comes n goes just focus on catering to the ones who are listening. The ones missing out will jump on when it’s too late.
I spoke to Shaney Jay about your first collaboration project Dreams Don’t Pay Bills for Breakroom Africa, what are your thoughts on that project? I personally like the storytelling on Dagga.
That project reminded me of the mixtapes I got to make in the early years of my career. I didn’t try to overthink it, I was making music like it was 2010/2011 again. Telling stories about making money by any means and our dreams and fears of the future, The content was also based on the pandemic years and what was happening to us as people at that time. The hustle was difficult being that we’re a indie company so that Mixtape really helped me vent during that time, felt like I was restarting my career and hustling as a 19 year old again (hence the song Dagga)
Sidenote featuring Kashcpt and Tembi Powers is my favourite song. How important is collaboration for the overall growth of music in Cape Town.
It’s vital if we want the music industry to grow. Collaboration has always been my thing since I started and I always look for new artists to work with especially in Cape Town so by featuring Kash and Tembi I just wanted to use my platform to showcase the talent we have in the city.
Who inspires you to become a better artist with each release?
I enjoy the personalities of athletes because sometimes they too come from tough circumstances and climb to the top of their game. I think I relate to The determination and perseverance one has to have when going up against the odds. I love a good underdog story so The likes of Micheal Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Pele, Maradona, Benni McCarthy etc…
What is one thing that you want to tell your fans?
I’d tell them about a few things like not to lose their faith and hope in life. Pray and believe in a higher power than yourself but one thing I’d advise is to respect the hip hop culture and try to learn about its past as well because rap music is what we create and hip hop is what we live.
If you could give your younger self advice what would it be?
Fuckit, just start now!
What’s next for YoungstaCPT ?
Mixtapes mixtapes and more mixtapes