Under Ground Artist Feature
Normally, the so called “underground” is a place where undiscovered artists perfect their skills before revealing themselves to the world by entering into the mainstream. This is the case for September Arts. As his name suggests, he is all about the arts and has an open-minded, inventive genius which allows him to appreciate all types of creative works including music, painting and acting.
His real name is Lethabo Setati and he is based in Vosloorus, in the East of Johannesburg. As a CEO of his own media company called 9th Month Arts, Setati is currently working on his latest project entitled Echoes Where Children Play. He is originally from Polokwane in Limpopo where he was born before moving to Rustenburg. He grew up in isolation and with a lot of music playing in the background which inspired him to write his own lyrics in 2005.
September has been on the scene for a while now and has two mixtapes already released to the public, namely Chasing Dreams and ForReign Lands which were both inspired by what he saw in his community. His style is pivoted around his poetic flows and as his conscious lyrics. The message being delivered is never lost at the expense of rhyming.
I was lucky enough to meet the young up-and-comer. He is not conceited but definitely does not suffer from a lack of confidence and has a whole lot to say.
‘’For me, growing up in my surroundings and seeing how most of the people I knew came from broken homes, I was inspired to write music about it. Because I grew up in a background where music was the main thing that brought the entire community of Vosloorus together, I want to write content that makes people come together but I want them to come together with a level of consciousness that’s gonna bring them some sort of growth – spiritually as well as well as mentally – and just have fun while doing that. So, I guess that’s why I’m making music.’’
What was going through your mind when you were putting ForReign Lands together?
‘’Social issues. I think ForReign Lands touches a lot on xenophobia, tribalism and those types of topics. I wanted to address that and I felt like music was the best way to address that. I think that I was also suffering in terms of my career as in trying to move forward and trying to grow as an artist. Tribalism kind of played a role because somebody who is Zulu in some radio station wouldn’t want to play your music because you’re not from the same tribe or something like that. Those are some of the hidden issues in terms of the industry and people don’t address those types of things so I decided to address that.’’
How did it feel to have a body of work released into the public?
‘’The process of writing is the most depressing because you’re touching on your own emotions as well as touching on other people’s emotions. So, mentally, your exploring people’s emotions and when you release it, It’s like you’re releasing all that anger, all that tension from inside of yourself and you’re giving it to the world so that they can consume it and kind of try to change their direction in life. So, releasing the tape felt like a relief for me, it felt like I released a lot of emotions and now I can be happier, I guess. It’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.’’
Supposing you could go back and change a couple of things, what would you do differently?
‘’I think what I would do differently is work with more artists. I think artists have a lot to say and to get a different perspective on the topics that I touched on would’ve been great. Not that I didn’t work with a lot of artists but I worked with less artists than I would’ve liked compared to my previous projects. I feel like it was more relevant for me to work with other artists but other than that I think I’m satisfied with my work and how I structured it and everything.’’
Who is your role model?
‘’It has to be Fela Kuti. I think Fela Kuti was a revolutionary. He’s the guy who invented Afrobeat. Today we hear Afrobeat in a different light whereas back then, afrobeat was more protest-like. He was basically a protest artist. I think him being a protest artist made him a big influence on my life because, like I said, I want to address a lot of things that are wrong in society.’’
What kind of a child were you?
‘’Artistic. Growing up, I was a victim of abuse a couple of times at home and at school. I think that had an impact on me being so isolated because art was the only thing I knew. It felt like me being an artist was the only way people could appreciate me. So ever since then my mind has been kind of boxed into art. I don’t know how to step out of it – it’s the only thing I know how to do. That is the only way I know how to express myself and communicate with the world. So yeah… I think I was an artistic child and my parents kind of encouraged me to continue being artistic because they could understand my emotions through my art. They could never understand how I felt about certain things unless it was expressed either through a painting, a poem, a song or through me dancing to a certain song. I’ve always shared my music with my parents and they’ve always encouraged me to be an artist’’
What’s the most valuable lesson you have ever learned?
‘’Patience. As artists, a lot of us have this urge for people to hear what we have to say because we have so much emotion lock up inside of us. The moment we make an artwork we want the world to hear it and that makes you a bit impatient. I think for my whole life I have been impatient until I released ForReign Lands and after I released it, I realised that my impatience kind of made the project a bit of a failure compared to what I had expected. Now going into my next project I’m more patient in terms of how I’m going to release the project and how I’m going to package the whole thing.’’
If you could break any law and get away with it, which law would you break?
‘’I would remove every boarder gate in the world. If we could break boarder gates, the world would not be limited in terms of the economy, tribalism, nationality and all of those things. I think boarder gates and the segregation of people is the beginning of the world’s problems. If I could remove the boarders I think people would be able to live together in harmony and they wouldn’t be separated by so many things.’’
What’s been your biggest disappointment in life and your biggest success?
‘’In 2015 my career was on the rise and I was working with multiple businesses, I had people mentoring me and some of those people were interested in investing in my art. As soon as the year ended I dropped out of sound engineering school and everything just ended for me, so I think my biggest disappointment would have to be when I dropped out of school because everybody kind of separated themselves from me. Nobody wanted to work with me as an artist anymore because they wanted some sort of a formality to go with my artistry. I wasn’t down with that. I dint want my art to be limited by formalities and stuff that they teach in schools.
My Biggest success would have to be MTV. In 2015 I did my first TV appearance with MTV. It’s funny how this is the same year I had my biggest disappointment. So, I had an appearance with MTV and they were basically advertising this project that I was working on called Alexandra Sandtons but I have since changed the name to Echoes Where Children Play which is the album that I am currently working on. MTV definitely showed me that things can happen for me because I was just somebody who was chilling at home, making music and they just decided that they wanted me to work with PH, who was the biggest producer in the country at the time. So, in 2015 I worked with PH, J&B and MTV Base in one project – Made for The Mix. it was a campaign and you can check out the video of me and PH working in the studio on my YouTube channel @ September Arts.’’
What’s next? What do you want to achieve in the near future and in the long term?
‘’For now, what’s next for me is just structuring my company to be in a position where its relevant in terms of the media industry. Not just music but art as a whole. I thick because we touched on art throughout this interview, that is where I want to position myself and my company to be in a place where it’s relevant, in a place where it’s good for the Hip-hop culture. In the next five years I definitely have to be international and working on my second album.’’
Facebook: September Arts