HAIL DA HIP-HOP KING

THE new national "King of Hip-Hop" says he is first and foremost an African whose message is that "it's not all about bling".

THE new national "King of Hip-Hop" says he is first and foremost an African whose message is that "it's not all about bling".

"I speak to ordinary people. Money means survival but it doesn't make me feel good," rapper Sammy Sparks, 27, said

Sparks was crowned "King of Hip-Hop" in the MC category in the Sprite Da Cape vs da rest Hip Hop Final Running Battle at the Cape Flats club Atmosphere in Cape Town on Saturday night.

Winning hip-hop championships since the age of 17, Sparks says it is ordinary people and not artists like Tupac Shakur or Biggie Smalls who influenced his work.

"How can I relate to a guy who talks about women and guns? I am an African and I trace my roots to the Khoisan," he says.

The legendary Ready D of African hip-hop pioneers Prophets of Da City said it was the first time that an event awarding all the hip-hop styles - turntables, B-Boy, krumper, MC, graffiti and beatboxing - had received such huge corporate support, with each category winner walking away with R10000.

Ready D said hip-hop was putting out a political message.

"For most of us hip-hop has always been a voice to express ourselves against apartheid and it remains a very powerful voice for poor communities," Sparks said.

The event itself was electrifying. An enormous outside parking lot had been fenced off for high-speed motorsport drifting.

Joburg artist Rasty won the graffiti category, while Flex took the top spot in the krumper category by backflipping off a three-metre high speaker.

Described as "the official athletes of hip-hop culture", the B Boy category was also a close call but finally went to Jed Lawrence, who has been winning breakdancing titles for almost 10 years.

Morgan Beatbox won the beatbox category with Cape Town DJ Codax winning the turntable category.

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