In 2017, while he was writing his Grade 11 mid-year exams, The Big Hash decided to purposefully flunk his papers.
His mother, a divorcee raising two kids, was heartbroken. She rebuked him, but the young man was unmoved: he wanted to focus entirely on music.
Two years on, the 19-year-old rapper, singer and songwriter, whose voice has barely broken, is one of the country’s most prominent up-and-coming forces. “For some reason music really stood out for me,” he says.
“And I knew that maybe I can change my life and make my mom’s life a lot better just by pursuing this.” His mom has gradually warmed to the idea of her son pursuing music full-time.
Just over a week ago, on the 29th of March, The Big Hash released Young, which is the latest mixtape in a string of highly successful mixtapes. “During the recording process, there were a lot of people who were dying young,” he says.
“Hearing news of XXXtentacion and Mac Miller passing on shook me and it made me feel like I could be next. So I had to drop a body of work that sounded like it could be my last. The fact that they were young inspired the name of the project.
"It was a very awakening process because it made me feel like every song I record should sound like my last, it should sound that perfect. It’s the perfect way to go out.”
On the day the mixtape dropped, he recalls waking up around eight in the morning and finding Young charting at 15th place on iTunes. Then a little while later he got a text from A-Reece of a screenshot showing that he’d climbed to number two.
“Seeing that was so surreal for me, only to find out an hour later I was number one through a Whatsapp screenshot on one of my best friends’ statuses. I couldn’t stop screaming.”
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Then he saw his manager walk through the living room door, ran up to him and jumped on him. “We’re number one, we’re number one, we’re number one,” he kept screaming.
He called his mom, who was on her way into a meeting, to tell her the news. “Even a 30 second call with her was enough to bring tears to my eyes.” This was the validation he needed.
Much of this success has been built around his impressive social media presence and the big name cosigns (Riky Rick, AKA, Slikour, Anatii, etc) that have publicly shown their support for the self-proclaimed Teenage Icon.
“I had to be different and bring in a different sound that was organic, and at the same time sound like something you won’t find in this country.” That approach has worked wonders.
On Saturday, The Big Hash will be joining the likes of A-Reece as a supporting act on the latest stop of AKA‘s Megacy Over Everything tour at Mall of Africa.
He recalls how he saw the show’s poster on social media and realised that it was a youth tour. Eager to get on the line-up he tweeted AKA, “Yo, AKA you can’t have a whole youth tour without The Teenage Icon, it just doesn’t make sense though”.
AKA responded and said he’d already been trying to reach out but his calls had gone unanswered. “I reached out to him and we linked up soon after for a studio session,” he says.
“We’ve got this song and it just sounds like pure gold. I’m really excited because of the direction and how he brought out the best in me in that song. I just want people to know that what’s coming is going to change how people see the youth.”