Interview: DJ SuperNova

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DJ SuperNova has enjoyed an illustrious career spanning over 10 years. Of Dominican decent, the Bronx native emerged from the birth place of hip hop set to make an indelible mark on the game. Fascinated by the South African hip hop scene and passionate about sharing his fascination with others, SuperNova embarked on documenting this journey in a short documentary series titled U(SA). The 7 part doccie series features some of the biggest names in SA hip hop sharing their thoughts and views on the state of the local game. His dedication to shedding light on South Africa’s incredible hip hop talent extended to him helping coordinate AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C and Kwesta’s famous Sway in the Morning appearances. We chatted to the LA based DJ about his affinity for SA hip hop, the U(SA) documentary series and which local artists his excited about this year.

Q: For those who haven’t been introduced to you yet, who is SuperNova?

A: SuperNova is one of the baddest motherf*ckers of all time. SuperNova is a DJ who is using music to connect people that seem to be worlds apart. The goal is to make it cool for people to work together regardless of where they are from.

Q: How did your relationship with South African hip hop emerge?

A: I was blessed to meet Naked DJ & Lulo Cafe on my very first trip to South Africa back in July of 2011. We all were DJ’ing at a club called Equilibrium – now Prime – in Grahamstown. Once I started DJ’ing, Naked DJ came to the booth and said “You’re not from here.” We then exchanged contacts and I would follow up here and there.  Naked DJ gave me the platform to provide mixes for Audiogasm. From there, I would tune in and listen to the hip hop music from South Africa, which lead to building relationships with artists and so on.

Q: You were instrumental in organising Cassper Nyovest, AKA, Nasty C and Kwesta’s appearances on Sway in the Morning. Can you shed more light on that?

A: The artists mentioned have achieved accolades that deserved attention outside of South Africa. The goal, for me, is to push South African hip hop to audiences outside of South Africa as well as the continent.

Q:  What inspired you to develop the U(SA) documentary series?

A: As a fan of South African hip hop, I wanted to learn more about the artists as well as the steps they took to get to where they are today. I am huge fan of the process and was really interested to see how something born in the Bronx, NY reached South Africa and became its own entity.

Q: You’ve amassed an incredible amount of knowledge on the South African hip hop landscape. What is it about SA hip hop that you gravitate towards and can we expect a similar series on any other African countries?

A: The hip hop scene in South Africa was new, fresh and still finding its identity – that was the draw for me. I have been learning about the hip hop scenes in other countries like Botswana, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania.  Building a series around other countries is in the plans but I really want to make sure I dive into the culture beforehand. It’s very exciting to see the possibilities.

Q: Which South African artists/ individuals are featured in the documentary series and how long did the process working on it take?

A: U(SA) features Da LES, Khuli Chana, Riky Rick and more.  KenFTW, the videographer, and I went to South Africa for about 30 days in 2015 where we sat down and recorded the conversations I had with each artist.  The concept was always something I had in mind and coming up with questions took about two months of preparation prior to the trip.  Due to our work schedules, editing the project took a lot longer than we wanted to – about 18 months – followed by the marketing campaign and so forth.

Q: What were your biggest learnings about SA hip hop from your interviews with each of the featured individuals?

A: I learned that we are more similar than different.  I strongly believe the more people know this, the more we can move forward together as a community.

Q: Which South African artists are you most excited about this year?

A: I am very excited for many artists – it’s not fair since I know some of the moves they’re making this year – LOL – but here are the ones I am most excited about: AKA, A-Reece, Cassper Nyovest, Riky Rick, Shane Eagle & J. Molley.

Q: What can we expect from you this year?

A: Expect the unexpected! I will continue to push the standard in South Africa and abroad.

Visit http://www.iamsupernova.com/ to check out the full U(SA) series.

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