Branco was born in Congo (Lubumbashi) to a Congolese mother and Gabonese father, on the 4th of April 1993, and was raised in South Africa (Cape Town) since 1998. An up and coming unsigned emcee, Branco started hip-hop dance classes at the age of 7 and soon started rapping the lyrics to the music. In 2007 a life-changing event took place when the young aspiring artist saved the lives of his sister and brother from their burning second floor home in Maitland, Cape Town. And then had the courage to run back into the burning flames to recover his sound system before the house fell apart. It must have been a sign of destiny, because Branco went on to win dance and rap battles all throughout high school. He has now gone on to launch his most recent EP – “AWAKEN” released on the 26th October 2018. Branco has lined up with a non-profit organization that rewards top art students on a primary school level in less privileged areas.
“AWAKEN” is an incredible recording from start to finish. Branco, who is still unknown abroad risks being mistakenly underrated as a South African rapper. A true street poet with a great ear for beats. I cannot believe I did not know about him yet.
The lines and verses are all deep and philosophical, as Branco lets us into his world track after track, with a universal coast to coast sound that will go down well with American rap audiences. Branco’s poetic passion and deep narratives make him a wonder to listen to. And despite his elevated personal content, his words always hit home on a level you can feel.
The minute the opening track, “Ready” ft. Xblack, kicks in, Branco strikes me as one of more realistic underground rappers around, and his words come across as true commentary of a life experienced firsthand, and seen directly through his eyes.
The introductory track forges a slick piano-driven production and introspective words that set the intimate tone for the EP. The trap styled beat on “Jenesis” is familiar and effective. It’s the type of slow burning sentimental jam that Branco shines over. He brings forth some has some more deep and thoughtful reflections here.
“Questions” ft. Xblack, showcases Branco at his dramatic finest, reflecting on personal struggles, the daily grind and the hustle to understand life’s truths, using a great narrative. The hook is awesome, and this song showcases two of the best S.A. locals, at their best.
The gorgeous flute-infused beat on “Judas” provides a perfect backdrop for the Capetonian emcee to drop some urgent philosophy which will give you chills. On the anthemic “Run Out” Branco shows passion and lyrical creativity and a surefooted flow that any understanding hip-hop fan can appreciate.
The EP closer, “Girl Test”, brings along a southern fried bounce and a trunk-rattling bassline, which makes for a noteworthy and banging experience. “AWAKEN” is one of the smoothest, most accessible underground hip-hop recordings to come out of Southern Africa that I have had the pleasure of hearing this year.
There are absolutely no skippable moments. Every verse is well conceived and the lyrics are completely heartfelt. Whereas many put out recordings full of thug ramblings, bling bling, and other commercial braggadocio, Branco spills his soul to the listener.