Early B strikes it big at Ghoema awards

Early B proudly holds his Ghoema awards
Early B proudly holds his Ghoema awards
Image: Supplied

Port Elizabeth-born Afrikaans hip-hop artist Earl Swartz, better known by his stage name Early B, has a lot to celebrate.

Originally from Bloemendal in the northern areas, Early B is riding the wave of success after bagging two Ghoema awards – edging out all other Afrikaans artists to snatch the coveted award for the most streamed online purchased album for his commercial debut Aangename Kennis.

The album also spawned the hit single Ben Ten, which won for Best Hip-Hop song.

In 2017, after recording his music in his bedroom for more than 10 years, Early B, 30, shot to stardom when he secured a record deal with one of the world’s biggest labels, Universal Music – becoming the first Afrikaans hip-hop artist to have been signed by the group.

The YouTube sensation’s music videos have been viewed millions of times on the video-sharing website.

The clip for his 2015 song Lekke Djy has been viewed more than 1.4-million times, while the official music videos off his Aangename Kennis album, Ben Ten and Potte, have both been streamed more than 1.1-million times respectively.

“I would say hip-hop is very much alive in Port Elizabeth and there are many artists, but there are not as many opportunities for everybody to showcase their talent,” Early B, who is now based in Cape Town, said.

“The [national] hip-hop scene is hard to break through – I’ve struggled to make my mark nationally.”

He said he had not expected to win at the 2019 annual Ghoema music awards, which were held on April 17 at the Sun Arena in Pretoria.

The 2019 awards courted controversy after several Afrikaans musicians, including Bobby van Jaarsveld and Bok van Blerk, boycotted the event.

The boycott came after sponsor MultiChoice demanded that the organisers drop a song by singer Steve Hofmeyr from the nominee list.

The song, Die Land (The Land), by Hofmeyr, featuring Van Jaarsveld and Van Blerk, was nominated in the Best Music Video category.

MultiChoice threatened it would cut ties with the award show due to Hofmeyr’s involvement.

The satellite TV service is not the first company to distance itself from Hofmeyr after MTN, Toyota and Media24 earlier in the year pulled out of the Afrikaans is Groot concert due to the controversial artist’s participation.

Hofmeyr has been unapologetic about his provocative utterances about race on social media.

In February, he tweeted a photo of himself posing with the old South African flag with the caption: “Good rains. Found a waterproof roof. Mooi ne (Pretty, right)?”

Early B said: “It’s the most humbling feeling ever, but it’s also rewarding because I’ve been doing music more than 10 years, so it’s finally paying off. I remember the challenges when I started doing my music in Port Elizabeth, and recording in my room, and trying to make it nationally.

“It’s just a rewarding feeling because of the work that I’ve put in over the years.

“You can say that I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labour.”

He said his family and the Bloemendal community were super proud of him.

“There are people who have reached out to me via Facebook groups and they’ve really touched me with their messages of support.

“Also, I’m very grateful to my family – they have been supporting me since I started.

“I’m proud to say I’m from Bloemendal.”