He has a unique style of music, and can freestyle about almost anything. He’s won numerous awards including Album of The Year at the 2019 South African Hip Hop Awards (SAHHA) for his album 3T (Things Take Time).
He has featured some of the best Hip-Hop acts in the country, namely AKA, Shane Eagle, Priddy Ugly, Nasty Blxckie, Gigi Lamayne, and Chad Saaiman.
This year he is nominated at the South African Hip Hop Awards (SAHHA) for the Lyricist Of The Year category and his brand Y?Gen for Best Local Brand. He knows what it is like to be the underdog, but those days are over.
Cape Town-born rapper Youngsta CPT (30) says he no longer needs to fight to be recognized because he has built a solid brand.
Youngsta CPT, real name Riyadh Emandien Roberts, recently released his album titled Dreams Don’t Pay Bills (DDPB). As the album title might sound a bit gloomy, Youngsta says it tells his story from when his career began.
“I am a storyteller and this project is a musical autobiography because it tells my story and my struggles,” Youngsta says.
The 16-track album features some of his favourite artists such as The Big Hash, Nashiefah, Ready D, Emile YX to name a few.
“My music is about my hustle from when I started. It’s a very personal project and it reminded me of the hunger and drive I had many years ago,” he says.
Youngsta has been making music for as long as he can recall but he took up music professionally in 2010 and started investing in his dream.
“Every cent I made would go into making music,” he says.
He was an upcoming artist in Cape Town and performed in small events and was known amongst his peers. But his career only blew up in 2015 when he moved to Johannesburg and featured Priddy Ugly, Nasty C, Stogie T, AKA, and KO in a few songs.
“I wanted more for my career, and I knew for that to happen I needed to relocate to Joburg so I can meet like-minded people,” he says.
In 2019 he released 3T but Covid-19 meant his career was on hold and he needed to find other creative ways of making a living after all bookings were cancelled.
“I have always been a hustler,” he says.
“I have always been an independent artist and I funded my music from the beginning through other means of making money. Back then I used to sell anything and everything from, shoes, clothes, and sometimes stolen goods, which is something I’m not proud of, but I had a dream and all the money I made went to the music and the business,” he says.
After high school, he pursued his music and continued “hustling”.
“I don’t have a CV, I have no tertiary experience or education. I was hustling while I was in high school already. I’ve always known that I don’t want to work for anyone that one day I would become my own boss and that is what I am doing right now, living my dream,” he says.
Youngsta currently owns Y?Gen Apparel, a streetwear clothing and he has partnered with franchise Street Fever where his clothing is available at 28 stores across the country.
“I am a rapper and an entrepreneur because I know what it’s like to struggle,” he says.
Born and raised in Wittebome, Wynberg, Cape Town he listened to a lot of conscious, uplifting, and educational Hip Hop music.
“Cape Town rap is very militant and is called conscious rap. It’s about teaching people something through the music, and I was inspired by groups like Prophets of the City, Brass Vannie Kaap, Emile YX, and Ready D, but I added a modern twist to it to give it a commercial appeal,” he says.
“To date, there hasn’t been a rapper coming from Cape Town who has made it big in the last 15 years. The last people to make it on this level were people like Black Noise which is why I will never stop representing Cape Town or singing about the struggles faced by my people,” he says.
“I love telling untold stories of where I come from,” he adds.
“I want my music to represent my hometown, our struggles, our culture, and what makes us great,” he says.
Like any career, he faced many challenges along the way.
“But I’ve built a strong enough foundation to stand on my own and not chase after record labels. I do my own distribution, I run my business as an independent artist. I’ve won awards, done tours, and legitimized myself as a rapper and an entrepreneur with money from my own pockets, and it’s possible for others to do the same If they focus on the dream,” he says.
“Today people can mention my name anywhere and there will be good reviews. I no longer need to fight to get attention or struggle for resources,” he says.
In the future, Youngsta would like his style of music to be palatable across the world. “I want our music to be accepted globally.”
He would also love to feature Sjava and Shekinah in his next project and with the rise of Amapiano music, Youngsta believes hip-hop will never die.
“There is still space for hip-hop. There’s room for everyone to coexist.”