Hip hop is not only a creative outlet for Leonard “Witbene Kouekindt” Waldeck, it was also his way out of drugs and gangsterism.
The 26-year-old Kuils River rapper is no stranger to the stage and has been performing since he was in high school.
Last Friday he performed at Chapter 7 of the Northern Lights Hip Hop Nights, at Stikland Driving Range.
The monthly event, which gives artists a chance to show what they can do, is the brainchild of Kraaifontein couple Linley “Linkris The Genius” and Genevieve Heynes.
Witbene Kouekindt started off with various crews before going solo at 16. He says it was hard at first, but he found a way to make it work.
A stint with the wrong crew while he was still in high school, he says, got him hooked on drugs and involved in gangsterism.
He had no direction and spent his days drinking and drugging, although somehow he kept working on his music.
Then one morning he decided he wanted more out of life: he reached out for help.
“Hip hop saved me. It helped me understand and make sense of what was going on in my life,” he says.
He released his latest EP, Voel Die Reë* , last year and describes it as a very personal album.
“The tracks are based on my experiences and things I’ve been through.
“People relate to my music and the things I write about, and I can see it on their faces when I perform.”
He says he has always been good at storytelling and uses that ability in his music.
“I believe I have a unique style; it’s something I have developed over the years. My songs are all based on my life and people I know or knew.”
Cape Town’s hip hop scene is “gonna explode” in the next few years, he says, as the city has so many skilled artists.
“There’s been a shift in the way artists are approaching the industry. Artists from Hout Bay, Paarl and other areas are now working with our local artists.”
And events like Northern Lights, he says, are helping the local hip hop scene by giving local artists a place to shine.