Yahkeem Ben Israel is a king of hip-hop

Unathi Jongihlathi

PORT ELIZABETH born musician Yahkeem Ben Israel was crowned “King of the Eastern Cape” at the South African Hip Hop Awards held in Johannesburg recently.

Israel, who is also the founder of the Grassroots Arts Festival, was nominated along with Thandeka Nkqo Vabaza, Nande Dyantyi, Xolile X-Nasty Madinda and Lungelo Trusenz Nzama and his exceptional work in developing young emerging artists in the Eastern Cape won him the award.

Israel was nominated in the same category as last year’s King of the Eastern Cape, Thandeka Nkqo Vabaza.

Israel said he respected Nkqo and the work he put in.

“So to be exalted on a platform where he formerly stood was great. It means I’m going in the right direction.

“Receiving the award was overwhelming.

“What was more humbling was the response from the crowd. Even before the judges’ decision was read, they had given it to me.”

Each province had nominees for king of the province category.

People nominated for the award had to be individuals who had contributed to the development of hip-hop in their respective provinces.

Israel was nominated on account of his work in uplifting and developing his peers and young emerging artists in Nelson Mandela Bay, hosting workshops and lectures in schools and colleges about the positive impact of hip hop and music in general.

Before going to the awards he said he was hoping to win.

“I was under pressure because my supporters wanted me to win and some even congratulated me beforehand. I was scared,” said the king of the Eastern Cape.

Israel said scooping the award made him hope and pray that it would open the eyes of his supporters and “really works wonders in their hearts so they see that the music we are doing is not only progressive, it is recognised”.

The star has shared the stage with prominent artists like Pro-kid, Zuluboy, Luckeez Mfowethu and Big Nuz to mention a few.

“I have also represented the Eastern Cape in the Splash Jam Conference as a panelist.

“I was listed among 23 top underground MCs in South Africa.

“I believe in the talent in the Bay. I was trained and supported by great artists in this metro,” he said.

His music is played on various well-known radio stations across the Eastern Cape as well as East African Radio in Kenya.

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