Words: Aluwani Ratshuingo | Visual Director: Ricardo Marcus Knipe | Styling: Siyabonga Beyile & Simbongile Ndlangisa | Graphic Art Director: Luke Benett | Director of Videography: Nic Rawhani | Make-up: Palesa Mkwananzi Artistry

“My personal style goes according to phases and sagas, you know. But currently it’s more tracksuit vibes. I don’t have that one person I look up to in terms of fashion, you know, ‘cause fashion for me is actually not so deep,”

Frank Casino tells me during an interview outside Glow Studios in Parkview. His eyes are hidden behind a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses as his yet to be released song plays in the background. He is still wearing one of the outfits from the photo shoot and the unadulterated swagger with which he carries the clothes would make you think he dresses like that every day. “This is my favourite look out of the three (grey trousers and jacket). I think I should look like this more often. ‘Cause inside, that’s hot, that’s me. How I look right now, that’s me inside.”

Frank Casino has a gracious demeanour, surprisingly, and appears guarded – an impression that is reinforced by his manager when he pulls me aside before the interview to tell me which questions to steer away from. They plan on rebranding and as such, they prefer not to do any in depth interviews, a strategy which creates a sense of mystery and obscurity about the young rapper. I immediately get the sense that he’s protective of his brand. Something which seems so rare in the South African hip hop fraternity – the acknowledgement and deliberateness of branding.

The Whole Thing hit maker – whose real name is Nhlanhla Tshabalala – was born in Tembisa, Johannesburg. His name literally means luck but I doubt his break had anything to do with it. Listening to his mixtape Something From Me, it’s easy to tell that the Whole Thing theme is prominent in most of his music: he wants it all and he’s doing everything in his power to get it. He says, on Whole Thing Extended: I don’t announce progression to lessen jealousy and envy | people get edgy | like it was your fault they weren’t sketching | like you ain’t do no time to practice perfection. The rising star understands what it takes to make it; you have to put in the work.

He candidly touches on what some are calling his sudden rise to fame on the Whole Thing Remix: If you don’t know then you might assume that I blew up quick. Frank Casino has been making music for many years – since 2004 to be exact, according to this biography. But it was the release of the Whole Thing Remix featuring Riky Rick that catapulted him to a national stage in late 2016. Shortly before that, he was featured on DJ Speedsta’s Metro FM Award  nominated hit single, Mayo alongside Shane Eagle, Yung Swiss and Tellaman.

Frank Casino has only had a few months of national commercial success but he’s already well on his way to becoming a household name. At 23 years old, he looks much  younger but you wouldn’t think so when you hear his deep voice laced over the synthesized beats. His music is definitely on trend and he’s on the come-up at a time when South Africa is finally ready to embrace the progression of Hip Hop and the resultant sounds within the genre.

Sporting neat braids hanging loosely around his face – quite reminiscent of ASAP Rocky – he has the cool kid look on lock but he’s not the type of cool kid you see in Braamfontein aimlessly chilling on the Father Coffee bench posing for that next gram. With a powerful mix of resolve and a sense of urgency, he’s got his eye on the ball. As we already know, he wants the whole thing and by the looks of it, he might just get it.

How does he keep his head above the water amidst the sudden popularity? “I don’t go inside the water,” he says. Can you even swim, I tease. “Actually I can’t so I don’t!

CLOTHING CREDITS

Look 1 – Frank wears:

Pink Tshirt – TopMan | Black Paint Detail Jeans: Sergent Pepper S.P.C.C | Socks: His Own | Slides: MRP

Look 2 – Frank wears:

Tshirt: His Own | Rider Pants: adidas x Jeremy Scott | Sneakers: Alexander Wang 

Look 3 – Frank wears:

White Tshirt: TopMan | Grey Jacket: TopMan | Grey Trousers: TopMan | Boat Shoes: Woolworths Studio W  | Pink Head Scarf: Woolworths