Apinda: For most of us, it all started with “Since 1990”. From there, you became a leader and pioneer of the alternative wave in the country. How has it been for you?
Tshego: Honestly, it’s been a blessing, man. Obviously, we have dreams and aspirations and I’ve always seen myself on the path that I’m on now but to actually be on this path, I’m grateful for it. I’m constantly working on creating a situation where I get to my ultimate dreams and goals. I can’t even tell you what that is because they keep shifting and evolving as I go but in short, it’s been amazing. I’m definitely not halfway to where I wanna be but so far, so good.
A: That’s amazing, bro. Congratulations on this journey into your dreams. What do you think has caused your dreams to evolve the way they have? Is it influence? Expectations?
Tshego: The opportunity that Cass gave me had a lot to do with it but I think he was only willing to give that kind of spotlight and the opportunity to the whole crew because of the kind of skills that we had and the hustle that we put in our very independent movements. Family Tree is still an indie label and that was very fitting because we were already accustomed to doing a lot of things ourselves and with our individual teams – we just continued with that same mentality.
A: Talk about Cass and Family Tree. How did all of that happen? You were the first signing, right?
Tshego: I’ve always known Cass, actually. We’d always see each other around through music and fast forward, I moved from Pretoria to Johannesburg. At that specific time, he was working on his debut album, “Tsholofelo” and we did “Cold Hearted” together at Ganja Beat’s studio. I don’t know if I was the first signing – I think me and Gemini were signed at the same time.
A: While you guys work in a more independent fashion as artists, y’all do have lots of music together. Can we expect a Family Tree project or is it a talk for another day?
Tshego: I really don’t know at this point, especially this year. There is a lot on the table for this year with Moses Mabhida coming up, Cass wants to drop a mixtape, Nadia is working on an album, I’m working on my album and I’m tryna drop some surprises along the way. We haven’t spoken about it and we haven’t officially said yes or no to it specifically but right now, it’s not concrete.
A: You’re currently working on your album. Tell us more about it. What is it about?
Tshego: I wouldn’t say it’s about anything specific. I’m not one of those guys who comes up with a certain sound or story that the album sits around. For me, it’s more like a playlist of dope music with people that I consider my friends. Some stories here, some feel-good vibes there.
A: You mentioned friends. Which friends can you confirm that you have on the album?
Tshego: At this point, I’m really not tryna confirm anyone on the album. Social Media can be tricky sometimes but it’s obvious that Cass, Nadia and Gemini are on the album – that’s all I can say, officially.
A: Shout out. Let’s get back to YOUR brand. What is the Pink Panther? We see it in your style, but what is it?
Tshego: Pink Panther is actually a name that Gemini and Da L.E.S had a lot to do with. Since “Hennessy”, I’ve been rocking the pink and Riky told me that I should push what I’m doing with it. From there, Pink Panther became more of a character, not a style. My style is very versatile and black is my favourite haha. This will be one of many characters that I will play through the course of my career.
A: Oh, that’s dope! When it comes to style, what brands do you like to wear?
Tshego: For the most part, I like a lotta upcoming local brands. My role is to help them grow through rocking their clothes and giving them credit for their work. There are certain brands that I pay to get custom clothes done for myself. Shout out to EMBEDDED, Hustle Velore, Estele Jo. Those are the brands that I like locally and internationally, it’s Nike and Vans.
A: Shout out to you for recognizing these young brands. Do you see these young brands going OFF-WHITE heavy? And if you do, which one?
Tshego: I really don’t know much about the local fashion industry, but I DO know that there are a lot of talented young people that need the platform, information and structure. It’s just that OFF-WHITE lives in a market that is years, leaps and bounds ahead of ours in SA but I have to say yes, there are lots of brands that have the potential to be up there with the best in the world. I feel the same about our music and everything else that we produce. We don’t have a “Hollywood” structure so you can’t expect our music and fashion industry on that level, but our skill and foresight is definitely there.
A: What do you think it would take to grow our own “Hollywood”?
Tshego: We’ll just have to ask the people that created Hollywood – they got the blueprint but It’s tricky coz technology has changed everything to a point where we buy things and watch things online. It goes beyond support – we need people who understand how to build the infrastructure in the modern society and catering for the people who consume our products. We just need to move, keep getting better and invest in the future generations.
A: Thank you, bro. As someone that the kids look up to, what would you say are the keys to getting to where you are right now?
Tshego: Faith, hard work, perseverance, self-belief and being real with yourself. I criticized myself for years before I could confidently tell myself that my music was fire. Your ability to take constructive criticism is very important but at the same time knowing that your own opinion is the most important opinion. A support structure is also very key – it’s not something that you can choose or work towards to, it’s something that you’re either blessed with or not. My support structure is one thing that helped me get to where I’m at right now, in the form of family that have been on my side even when they don’t really understand – those are the keys.
We definitely can’t wait to see what the Pink Panther has in store for us on the upcoming album but the one thing we can be sure of is that it’s gonna be FIRE. Listen to more of this young and amazing artist on Spotify: