Fri Apr 18 20:13:12 SAST 2014
Fri Apr 18 20:13:12 SAST 2014

From hobo to top musician

Mar 23, 2012 | Sbusiso Shongwe |   25 comments

"I had only R300 but I also had a dream" - Once a scared boy, Chronic X is reaping the sweets of his sweats!

HARD KNOCKS: Hip-hop star Xolani Fani, aka Chronic X. PHOTO: MOHAU MOFOKENG

HIP-HOP star Chronic X this week related how he narrowly escaped from an initiation school in the mountains of Eastern Cape.

Born Xolani Fani at Dimbaza in Eastern Cape, the musician says he ran away from an initiation school in 2000.

"I had only R300 but I also had a dream: I had to run for my life."

These tales are embedded in his Xhosa/English debut album, Miss SA, and a music video for the track Look At That. Most of the songs in the album are about Dimbaza in Eastern Cape; the streets, the people, the love and the cruelty that left his community in distress.

"But one song that still rings new every time I listen to it is Big Brother," he says.

Big Brother recounts the death of a friend who died as a result of a circumcision gone wrong, which doctors say was pneumonia. But Chronic X is sure that whatever happened in the mountains killed his friend.

"My friend went to the mountain and on the fourth day he was dead. I was scared. He died on Saturday, we buried him Sunday and I was gone on Monday.

"Surprisingly, my parents understood that I had to leave, something they would not have done under normal circumstances and given that I was 17 years old," says Chronic X.

"During that period more people of my youth were dying, some from petty crimes, some from community beatings. But most of them were dying from entabeni and that shocked the whole community. These are untold tales depicting events at Dimbaza in 2000."

Living in fear of death did not sit well with the youngster and Sea Point in Cape Town became his next refuge, backpacking with other homeless people. He pulled himself together and got a job as a waiter.

"The last thing you can do in a city like Cape Town is to feel sorry for yourself. The love of music and my family kept me strong. A hobo who works as a waiter . I would wake up at 5am to wash in the toilets of Golden Acres."

He saved enough to bounce back to music and set up a makeshift studio in his room. Soon underground rappers came in and "one day this Afrikaans boy Jack Parow, the Hosh tokolosh star, comes in and talks about rap, what does he know, but I let him flow", he laughs.

But Joburg was calling. He enrolled at Soul Candi Institute of music. "I got my qualification there and they asked me to lecture in production."

Chronic X came to Sowetan fresh from a live performance on e.tv breakfast show Sunrise.

Once a scared boy, Chronic X is clearly reaping the sweets of his sweats!

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