Steers Respek Nation Presents TTGO – The Pitori Invasion
Words by Nick Kaoma
Photography by Anthony Bila
Creative Direction & Styling by Mzo Gcwabe
Charismatic rapper, TTGO, rose to fame on The Hustle and is forging an inspired career as a breakthrough act. TTGO represents a fascinating new breed of artists emerging from Pretoria’s creative scene which is cultivating a unique musical identity, distinct Pitori lexicon and cultural ethos.
The DNA of the contemporary Pitori artist is invigorating, a quality TTGO exemplifies. I chatted to TTGO about reppin’ the 012, what we can expect from the young artist and being part of Steers’ Respek Nation series.
Q: Here at The Plug we like to know what makes an artist tick and most of the time that is informed by the way grew up, can you tell us bit about your upbringing and what makes TTGO?
A: TT is a young nigga, I was born in Polokwane but I was raised in PTA for most of my life so when I lived in PTA we stayed in central town and I went to school around that area and when my parents did the right things and took me to the east side of the city where I currently reside. I actually read something crazy on Twitter the other time and someone said ‘TTGO looks like he’s from the North but speaks like he’s from the hood.’ And I think that’s just a reflection on my life more than anything because I was brought up in the hood and learnt a lot of things from there. I got a lot of influence from growing around there.
I started rapping in grade 5 when one of my friends influenced me to make and write music just as a fun way to express myself and I think that’s where the transition happened for me from being an introvert to extrovert because I used to be an introvert and I didn’t like people that much and I kept to myself . I used to draw my own comics and design my own clothes ands all these things were spring board ideas from me writing music because that was my first outlet of expression and that’s when I was like Oh shit, I can make this into something else that would communicate to someone who could relate with me.
I started taking it seriously in Matric when I believed I would make it, I started living in Jhb just to be around everything music and business wise and one of the ways that I convinced my parents to let me stay here was to study so I enrolled for a degree in Economics and Econometrics and graduated in April this year. In Feb I got hit up for The Hustle and we shot the show and the rest is history I guess .
Q: South Africa was introduced to you as rapper through The Hustle, please give us a brief recap of the things you learnt on that show and the moment you found out you had to leave the house?
A: The Hustle was my first experience of being in contact with a lot of the guys that are in the game and are where I wanna be in a couple of years and just seeing how they move and how they handle situations was dope and even though it was under certain conditions when we were on camera because I guess people had to act a certain way and can act differently but I think just being there and cav’ what’s popping and seeing the game in full circle was dope . The overall thing I got from being in the finale was an overwhelming sense of encouragement , it felt like I was drafted like the NBA and I had made it and it was dope.
Q: When you left The Hustle, you received massive support from your home town, and Pretorians from all over the country, what happened to make PTA such a supportive movement?
A: I don’t know what helped it make it such a supportive movement , I just came onto the show and I just told myself that I would just be myself I was just like I’m TT, I’m gorgeous, I’m from Pitori and that’s just what I’m about and I think people fucked with it because it was just a genuine vibe. I was reppin’ where I was from and people felt that. I didn’t have a lot of money behind my first tracks but I managed to make it happen. I feel like Pretoria is responsible for a lot of how people dress and speak now it’s just that they’re not like Jhb guys who know how to monetize it to that extent. If you Cav the fashion some of your fav rappers are rocking, they’re being styled by PTA guys. Building a subculture is important to me and my people because we’re giving the kids something to subscribe to.
A: In terms of aesthetics, its just about the guys I grew up with, all my friend and I just love dressing up. I unlock a lot of pleasure from unlocking a seriously painful combo. I get an adrenaline kick from it. When the visual aspect of my music comes out it has to be all me and very reflective of that. I do think it’s important for artists to have it together via aesthetic but I guess not everyone has to but I do think that it helps pull the whole look of your work together and makes it easier to sell yourself to people.
Q: Are you currently signed? If not, how are you getting your stuff out into the market?
A: I’m not signed, I’m currently working with an independent record label so basically we’re pushing this thing ourselves and in terms of getting stuff out into the market, it’s different because you need a lot of coin especially as a new artist and when you really wanna put it out there in South Africa and not really target it to a niche platform. What we have is talent, hunger and ambition to make it. We want to harness our own stuff so no one can take it away from us. We aiming for ownership and control because that’s one thing as artists right now that we don’t have and I think we’re the new generation and smarter in that way. I see it with Jay and Shane and how they’re pushing their own things and being very successful at that. We’re more educated and that’s powerful.
Q: What do you say to people who criticize your look and style drawing comparisons between you and Quavo.
A: If anyone has beef, take it up with my mama and daddy because it ain’t like I chose to look like this (Lol). I think it’s just a coincidence that Migos are having their big year the same time I came out but ay man I’m just doing me and my IG can attest to that!
Q: You call yourself Mfana Petori and a lot of people see you as the The Lastest Hope for Pretoria hip hop. How do you feel about it and can you handle the pressure?
A: There’s no pressure, I don’t place unnecessary pressure on myself. The only pressure that arise are the ones I set for myself because I’m just doing my own thing and hopefully that works out in the long run.
Q: Who do you look up to in the hip hop game and why?
A: I don’t look up to anyone anymore because I met the guy I used to look up to last year and he told me that he wasn’t feeling me like that and I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t making the type of music that he was making, his is very chilled relaxed hip hop and mine is obviously the new wave new age so that was really disappointing and a couple of months later I ended up on TV and hundreds of thousands of people watching the boy thought I was the one so I guess it ain’t all bad, Lol.
Q: How do you feel about being a part of this Steers Respek Nation Series in association with The Plug?
A: Being part of this is really dope because it’s kinda like the last stamp especially it being towards the end of the year. It’s really crazy because I saw all this a year ago and I believed it was gonna happen, I didn’t know how all I knew is that I just needed to rap it out. 2016 was me getting the ball rolling. I didn’t know I would be on The Plug cover but I envisioned myself on a cover, I really saw things in my head and the vision is always clear. It was just the belief in the universe and attracting things to happen the way they did. I’m very spiritual and I believe in the law of attraction. I believe energy is a real thing and what’s helped is believing in my alignment with my destiny more than anything.