8 October 2013 we featured the first verse of Aerosol’s ‘Sometimes’ on Random Verse Tuesday. Aero5ol(Aerosol) probably took fashion and fabrics in high school and can probably put together a dope hip hop outfit. It wouldn’t surprise me if I found out that he used to break in a previous life, just to complete the term ‘hip hop artist.’ As I know him today, Aero5ol is an emcee, human beatbox, graffiti and spoken word artist. Recently I had a Q & A session with 5dot(derived from an alternate spelling of Aero5ol) that went as follows.
A: It’s in reference to graffiti. Aerosol cans that are used to spray colourful expressions or statements on walls. So my words, like everyone’s really, are coloured by the emotions that I express in graffiti. The 5 is just an expression of individuality. There are thousands of Aerosols out there there’s only one Aero5ol.
Q: Out of all your skills which one do you appreciate more?
A: It’s like asking a mother who her favourite child is. She’ll never tell you. Even if she does, it won’t necessarily be true. It all depends on many things. There are times that I focus on one expression more than the others and so maybe I define myself through/by that expression, but a few weeks down the line it changes.
Q: What is your earliest hip hop memory?
A: Watching Beat Street on tv with family maybe…. or dancing to something on some charts at that time (Peace of Ebony) or hearing the Native Tongues etc. They are too many.
Q: What is the Zim rap song that you last played?
A: I don’t listen to any music much, especially rap. I listen to very old music when I can, the last local music I listened to was early Cde Chinx – Zvikomborero I think. Dope
Q: How many mixtapes/albums if any have you dropped so far?
A: I did a project called the ‘Spraycan Sounds’ while I was still in Bulawayo. I then shifted my focus to live performance, there’s not much studio stuff out there of mine, that hasn’t been my focus. I try to upload as much of the live stuff as I can and try to make each performance different.
Q: Where can people catch you perform?
A: Good question. Anywhere where the crowd appreciates alternative sounds/ ideas. There are not many of those here in Harare but you’ll probably catch me at one of those or alternatively read any of the articles I’m writing on all sorts of stuff on kalabashmedia or check out a few visual projects I’m currently working on (www.wirecar5.tumblr.com)
Q: How important is social media to Aerosol?
A: Its very important. My work is not just for people around me, but for the whole planet. Much of what I do is as much about world views as it is about ‘local’. A lot of people who appreciate what I do are not necessarily within my physical reach. As an individual and as an artist I’m a big fan of social media. It has also allowed me to experience realities, spaces and ideas that I couldn’t necessarily know about without it.
Q: When and how did you start tagging?
A: I started tagging fairly recently really, on drunken nights with some of my cool graffhead colleagues. I’ve had an interest in aerosol art since around 2000, stenciling specifically which is what I’ve been doing (also with cool friends) for about 6 years or so. It was through a stencil art exhibition in Bulawayo that I got interested in stenciling as art, just like any other urban expression, it pulls you in, you learn and you cant stop learning and growing with it
A: If we look around, there is evidently not much of a graff/street art scene. There’s been more emphasis on rap over the years, of course it also has to do with economics. Rap is cheaper to get into, all you need is a pen and paper, whereas with graff/street art, you need that(pen and paper) then you might need paint, unless you’re planning to innovate.I think (young) people just need to assert themselves more. Create spaces for themselves among all these buildings around them. Graff/Street art is very much about beautifying, asserting presence and also questioning ourselves. Until people start to ask these questions within/about these places they occupy, street art won’t grow.
Q: Can you name 3 Zim beatboxers who appear on your radar?
A: Besides myself? Philo,ProBeats and Mosquotable
Q: Some mc’s listen to other mc’s because they are heads first and to improve their skill. Since you said you don’t listen to rap how do you better your emceing and beatboxing skills?
A: I do listen to rap, I’ve been a listener since I was in primary school. So I have a collection of rap music from old to new, but I have loads of other music too. Sometimes I find it more enriching to listen to every other genres that hip hop borrows from. There are many ways to improve your raps, you can also increase your depth as a human being. Rap is more than just your vocal skill, it is much more and not all you learn comes from rap music. Same with beatboxing. Questlove at one time had a record collection of 5 000 albums, of those only 10 were rap and he’s undoubtedly a major contributor to hip hop culture.
Q: How do you survive in an “industry” that doesn’t really pay? Do you have a 9 to 5?
A: Another good question. I have no idea how I survive. I have a feeling I may have died long back and I don’t know.
Q: What has been the biggest opportunity so far in your career?
A: It’s different here, I can’t talk about big opportunities in the way someone else would. i’m guessing you’re talking about big shows with big numbers etc. Things are different here, the scene is different, economics are different, as a result big opportunities are different. I’m blessed with the ability to learn and grow. Life is my big opportunity. Living.
Q: Can you tell us a few differences in the Bulawayo and Harare hip hop scenes?
A: I haven’t been an active participant in the Bulawayo hip hop scene for about 3 years, so I can’t make any generalisations there. I’ve been active within the Harare hip hop scene for 3 years but I realise I can’t make any generalisations there either. The differences in the 2 cities maybe differences in culture and politics on a general level. That’s what’s determining the differences in the scenes.
Q: By your definition of success, have you achieved it?
A: Success is a big car, big apartment and art studio downtown with an industrial feel to it. Plenty of urban myth surrounding the individual, lots of money and general signs of wealth. I have not reached success yet.
Q: One thing you would like to see change in Zim hip hop?
A: Our definition of hip hop limits us. We’ve had rap for so many years and nothing else as a mainstream expression of the presence of hip hop as a culture. There’s so much more than rap! Maybe we just haven’t got the memo.
Q: Where can people find your art online?