Refiloe Maele Phoolo (born 16 December 1990, in Mafikeng), professionally known as Cassper Nyovest, is a South African recording artist and record producer. His debut album Tsholofelo was released on 18 July 2014. He is currently signed to his own independent label and media company, Family Tree.
Nyovest grew up in Montshiwa in Mafikeng, the capital city of the North West province. He attended high school at Sol Plaatje Secondary School. In school, he was athletic as he partook in various sports activities including football, cricket and basketball. He started rapping when he was in grade 6, at the age of 12.
In grade 10, Nyovest failed his exams, and moved to his grandmother’s house in Potchefstroom. Then the following year, at age 16, he decided to drop out of high school: “I told my parents that I’d rather chase my dream, which I believe is going to work out, rather than keeping it safe and regret it my whole life.” Nyovest relocated to Johannesburg the following year to pursue a career in music as a rapper and producer.
2004–09: Early beginnings
In 2004 he was a member of a group called Childhood Gangsters (CHG), which disbanded. He then joined an eight-member group, Slow Motion, which included the production team, Ganja Beatz.
Nyovest dropped out of high school in 2006, left home and moved to Johannesburg. The following year, still at the age of 16, he was signed by the Motswako label “Impact Sounds”. After two years without a release, he left to start a label of his own to no avail — he moved back home.
Months later, Motswako rapper HHP spotted Nyovest at a performance. HHP was impressed and featured him on “Wamo Tseba Mtho” on his album Dumela. Nyovest embarked on international tours with HHP where he gained exposure as an artist. He has also shared stages with international acts such as Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Talib Kweli and Wiz Khalifa. In the year 2014, Nyovest was involved in a highly publicised “beef” with fellow South African artist AKA (rapper), this led to both artists recording diss tracks about each other.
2013–14: Gusheshe, Doc Shebeleza & Tsholofelo
In 2013, he released “Gusheshe” as the first official single from his debut album, Tsholofelo. The single was well received and playlisted across various radio stations in South Africa. It was accompanied by a music video which premiered on Vuzu’s V-Entertainment.
After “Gusheshe”, he released his second single titled “Doc Shebeleza” which saw him gain major success. The song peaked at number 4 on South Africa’s official music chart. The song received positive reviews from the public and other South African acts including Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
His debut release, Tsholofelo, was released on 18 July 2014. It was number 1 on the iTunes South African albums chart for 2 consecutive months before being knocked off by Duncan’s Street Government.
In October 2014, Nyovest was ranked number 2 on “The Hottest MC in Africa” list by MTV Base.Nyovest was also ranked number 2 on MTV Base’s “SA’s Hottest MC” list with K.O at number 1. Nyovest criticized the list because of DJ Vigilante’s close affiliation with Cashtime Life rapper K.O. He stated that Vigilante should not have been on the ranking panel and showed his discontent with the list by releasing a song titled “Beef” in which he disses DJ Vigilante, AKA and K.O. It quickly sparked controversy after the rapper later apologized to K.O for a line on the song.
2015–present: Tsholofelo Platinum Edition and Refiloe
After the release of Tsholofelo, Nyovest hinted that he was in studio recording new music, presumably for his second album. He was pictured working with Casey Veggies, DJ Drama, Wizkid, and frequent collaborator Anatii. However, it would later be revealed that the songs were for the platinum edition of Tsholofelo. The platinum edition was released in April 17, 2015 with only 10,000 copies printed out. Nyovest announced that he was planning to headline a concert on the 31 October 2015 at the Ticket Pro Dome billed as “Fill Up the Dome” and release his sophomore album at the venue on the same day. He revealed the title of the album as Refiloe on July 13, 2015. He mentioned that he wanted to fill the dome – which currently accommodates up to 20,000 people – to its full capacity. In a Twitter post, he explained that a ticket bought meant a free album and that if he managed to fill the dome, Refiloe would go gold in a day. The album cover was released on August 10 via Nyovest’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
On August 14, 2015 the album’s first single titled “Mama I Made It (#MIMI)” was released for purchase on iTunes and as a free download for 24 hours only. Shortly after its release, it peaked at number 1 on iTunes South Africa chart, across all genres. It was also playlisted across various radio stations in South Africa, most notably on DJ Fresh’s “Fresh at 5” show on 5FM. It was produced by Ganja Beatz, which Nyovest has worked with for a long time. On the same day, the American rapper Talib Kweli whom Nyovest had previously collaborated with on the “Doc Shebeleza” remix released his lead single off his album entitled “Fuck The Money” which features a guest verse by Nyovest.
On October 25, 2015, Nyovest announced on his official Twitter account that tickets to the Fill Up The Dome concert were sold out. Each purchased ticket to the concert came with a complimentary copy of Refiloe, which each concert goer received on October 31, 2015. In November 2015, Cassper was named as the Hottest MC in South Africa by MTV Base Round table experts, he beat his rival AKA to top the list Cassper was also listed as the hottest MC in Africa by popular Nigeria music streaming blog industry experts, notjustok.com As of January 13, 2016, Refiloe was certified Platinum for shipments in excess of 40,000 copies domestically. On October 29, 2016, Cassper Nyovest filled Orlando Stadium, a 40,000 capacity venue and it was indeed a game changing moment for the hip hop genre in South Africa and Africa as a whole. Nyovest is now often referred to as Mr. Fill Up by locals. Cassper has already announced his plans to fill up FNB stadium, an 80,000 capacity stadium in 2017.
On December 2, 2016, MTV Base ranked Cassper Nyovest first on its list of South Africa’s Hottest MCs of 2016. The list was compiled by a panel of judges, which included veteran rappers and influencers from South Africa. The list was based on these six pointers: impact, style, lyrics, sales, buzz, and other intangibles.
Cassper received a total of 9 nominations at the 2016 SA Hip Hop Awards.
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