By Jonathan Booysen
Pic by : Jonathan Booysen
To many, the name X-Nasty refers to the man who so effortlessly captured the audience at the recent Linton Kwesi Johnson concert. But how many have met X-Nasty the playwright, who wrote the drama Ndiyindoda! I am a man! and performed it at past National Arts Festivals? Or X-Nasty the social activist, who has helped build schools and educate young minds in the heart of the Fingo Village township in Grahamstown?For all these accomplishments, however, Xolile Madinda (otherwise known as X-Nasty or X) is taken aback when he learns that the interview is solely directed at him, because he believes that he is one with the people of his community. Born in 1979, Madinda tells of his days as a young boy growing up in Fingo Village, the township in which the basis of his community work lies today. He was raised in a home built on the foundations of Black Consciousness, laid down by Steve Biko, where love for your fellow man and acknowledgment of your own limitations were core values. “I reflect that philosophy through Hip-Hop,” says the passionate MC, who has been writing poetry for over a decade.
Madinda considers his pseudonym, X, to be mathematically linked, stating that X (apart from being the first letter of his actual name) is a variable which needs to be solved. This relates to his vast ambitions which cannot be limited to a single answer, for his work is his life. Madinda highlights his recently released debut EP (Demo), Ubom as a dedication to addressing crucial social issues which the glamorised sphere of hip-hop has overlooked. Upon questioning him on his EP’s sales figures, he simply replies “Why should you sell life”?Together with his long time friend and producer, Biz, the duo make up the hip-hop crew Defboyz. Defboyz initially started out in 1996, as a collective of 16 MCs who have since branched out into separate crews but are still part of the Defboyz movement. The crew prides themselves on empowering people and promoting social awareness through their music, as well as through the self-initiated organisation Fingo Revolutionaries Movement. They also work together with the Rhodes Centre for Social Development.
During the interview, Madinda receives a call and excuses himself. Attention turns to another long time friend of his, Firestarter. Firestarter is a pantsula dancer and dramatist who has collaborated with Madinda on many theatre productions, the most recent one in the works being Revelate, which will incorporate breakdancing and pantsula elements. “X is very stubborn,” says Firestarter, indicating the high expectations that Madinda has of all those he works with. “You’ve got to give him one hundred percent,” he added.Madinda rejoins us and tells of his forthcoming album, The Power of X, which he says will feature the day to day struggles of friends and people whom he has come to know and learn from. “It will be raw and thought provoking, but also a celebration of life,” says Madinda – but it will still be X: X the local terrorist.