Alright, first things first. I would like to apologize because this write-up has taken extremely long to materialize. I could wax lyrical about how busy I am and all that but I will spare you. What’s important is that I have finally managed to put the proverbial pen to paper and get on with it so let’s go!
Sugar Ray Leonard is an American former professional boxer. He is arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time and certainly the greatest or at least the most decorated welterweight boxers of all time. Known for his insatiable vigor to learn and perfect the craft of boxing, he started out as a very physical boxer but soon evolved to a more crafty and deft style as he grew in confidence and made a name for himself. Most boxers were frustrated by his big mouth as he was known to taunt opponents in the ring. Notably, his taunting reached unheard levels during his classic bout with Roberto Duran which ended with Roberto Duran quitting and uttering the now famous words, “no mas” which mean “no more” in Spanish. Leonard may have not been a heavyweight like Ali, Tyson and them but he certainly was one of the best of his generation. Now, in comes T.U.R.K., peep the prognosis (c)
Bataung Moeketsi, widely known – in these spaces – as T.U.R.K. (That Unfuckwithable Rapper Kid) is at the threshold of what I believe to be his imminent success. He had an impressive 2017 characterized by headlining two of the biggest bouts at Versus: Dirt Mouth Sessions, winning the first one against T.I.E.H.O. and losing the second one against Verbal Kingpin.
One of the aforementioned will be discussed in great detail in the paragraphs to follow.
2018 is also looking to be quite a year for the young rapper amid news that he will be performing on one of the segments at the foremost Hip Hop gathering in Africa, Back To The City International Festival on April 27th. This is also the year he should be releasing his frequently pushed back and as such, highly anticipated album “199X”. It therefore goes without saying, 2018 is surely going to be a defining year for T.U.R.K.
But first, let’s briefly get acquainted with the MC. Bursting in the Maseru Hip Hop scene at a very tender age, T.U.R.K. was known as Swagga and he arrived cradled on the shoulders of industry heavyweights Z-Digi and T-Mech. Testament to how impressive he was back then, rumours spread that Benni-B wanted to sign him to his stable Mighty Records. Fast forward years later, a couple of crews formed (R.O.Y.A.L.T.Y, We Got Next) affiliations forged, Vodacom super-stardom and bridges burned, T.U.R.K. is now confidently on his own and making a name for himself.
T.U.R.K. vs T.I.E.H.O. is a battle that will be talked about for eons to come. From the moment it was announced, I sat on the fence because I felt it was evenly matched. It’s very unfortunate however that it was marred by unnecessary drama on the days preceding it. T.I.E.H.O. lost his cool and tremendously overreacted by slapping T.U.R.K. during the pre-battle interview. Nonetheless, one could argue that this egregious act was a blessing in disguise for T.U.R.K. and bad karma in waiting for T.I.E.H.O as the latter went on to disgracefully lose the battle “no mas” style.
Slated for 3 rounds/verses per MC, T.U.R.K seemingly overwhelmed T.I.E.H.O so much that T.I.E.H.O only managed to spit 1 full verse and a portion of his 2nd. He eventually threw in the towel when he was supposed to deliver his 3rd, made a bowing gesture and declared that “T.U.R.K. took it.” T.U.R.K. on the opposite end was sharper than ever. In all 3 rounds, he came through with the intent of an eventual champion. His pen mightier than any sword his opponent could brandish at him.
I initially called the battle 2-1 in favour of T.U.R.K. He vehemently believed that it was a 3-0 instead. I felt T.I.E.H.O. won round 1 but upon further replays of the footage, I take that back. I was wrong. I will give credit to T.I.E.H.O.’s sneaky one liners that roused the crowd to fever pitch each time they landed but in hindsight, T.U.R.K.’s pen game carried way more weight. Battle rap in today’s age requires one to be a little bit more nuanced than it did, say a decade ago. T.U.R.K. fully understands this. His effort to genuinely write multi-layered, extremely well thought out bars is commendable and that’s what sets him apart.
TURK Best Bars:
“So for 3K, I’m killing this nigga like that racist group you know the one with the name that got 3 Ks, and I hope you came with more than a 16 because that won’t be enough, like that Rick Ross song where he’s featuring 3K, that’s Andre…”
“The Kidd’s so sick like 2006 Ne-Yo/ Spit dope that you can package and sell to the masses by the kilo/ every coke line I recite packs a heavy punch, I’m a hard hitter/ I should rush in (Russian)/ On the side of his chin/ ‘Cause he can’t bear (beer) how I serve rock/how sir rock (Ciroc) on the mic, and by the end of the night I’ll absolutely (Absolut) send this on to the sky (SKYY), that’s hard liquor!”
“With that long nose, you remind me of Pinocchio, cause with these lines I could make you lie down there, you’re a nigga I will body/ I should’ve pulled strings like Jeppedo/ And booked you a room at Queen II ‘cause you’re gonna need long to heal (heel) like a stilettos/ You got me?”
“I’m chemo-therapy to these Hip Hop heads, let’s get it clear/ You’re about to lose here (hair) like a cancer patient… ”
T.I.E.H.O Best Bars:
“Congratulations T.U.R.K. you’re known bruh, I mean, no pun intended but ke kentse letsoho hore e be u oa tsebahala…”
“See I’m a hood nigga, ‘na ke ntja ea kasi, I’m just good with these raps/ It’s funny on the promo u roetse kapi but you ain’t got the hood on your back/ ‘Cause you’re a mama’s boy, only known for going club to club flaunting your mama’s cash, getting in and out of characters like Leon Schuster but you haven’t given your mama jack (Mama Jack)/”
“I mean dawg, you’re the shortest Goliath I’ve ever seen/ ‘Cause everybody knows ke ‘na Tafita, ke tlo u rotela, sali ting!”
As I have already mentioned, I changed my call from 2-1 to 3-0. T.U.R.K won convincingly against T.I.E.H.O.
It will be interesting to see how his career unravels given the trajectory it seems to be on at the moment. I find it particularly pleasing that he hasn’t really blown up in the sense of being everywhere, instead his climb has been slow and steady like no one else before him. Perhaps this approach is more likely to place him at heights many of his peers before him have hardly reached. Equipped with streets smarts and book smarts, T.U.R.K. might be the very dark horse that actually kicks down doors and barriers most Lesotho born/based MC’s have struggled to take down. Say what you will about his character and the kind of person that he is, when all is said and done, there’s no denying that T.U.R.K. might just be the one. Only time will tell.
He might not be Ali or Tyson but… the rap game Sugar Ray Leonard.