Words: Aluwani Ratshiungo | Visual Director: Ricardo Marcus Knipe | Graphics Director: Luke Benett | Styling: The Threaded Man | Make-up: Palesa Mkwananzi Artistry | Director of Videography: Nic Rawhani
Gemini Major is sporting short and sparse dreadlocks with red and blue tips accessorised with red, gold and green beads on the day of the shoot. His eyes are perpetually half-lidded, it’s hard to decide whether he looks high, tired or like he forgot his reading glasses at home.
The 26-year-old is really slim so most of the clothes don’t fit him; they have to be pinned into place to achieve the tailored look. As he poses in studio dressed in TopMan and Woolworths he looks nothing like the ‘Rudebouy’ who was lazily dressed in a graphic t-shirt and shorts a few minutes before. His large entourage cheers him on as he alternates between high fashion poses (sometimes with Amarula, the puppy that played co-model) and jamming to some Hip Hop tunes including some of his own.
“I got the trees, the trees, the trees/ Bad man roll up the ganja,” singing in a faux-Caribbean lilt over the heavy bass trap beat of Lifestyle – a collaboration with self-proclaimed North God, Da Les – Gemini merges his two favourite genres which are Hip-Hop and Dancehall. At the rate that hip hop is growing in South Africa, it’s becoming a highly competitive sport and the arena is slowly becoming saturated. The Ragga Ragga hitmaker certainly stands out even though it was never a conscious effort on his part.
What sets Gemini apart from a lot of Hip Hop producers and artists in South Africa is that his productions are mainly influenced by his Malawian upbringing. By sticking to his roots, he managed to find a distinct sound that has helped set him apart. “I do a lot of dancehall which I inherited in Malawi. Even in my beats there’s always elements that I took from Malawi,” he tells me after the shoot as we sit on the stairs that lead to the basement of the studio.
You probably know the story already. A young aspiring producer moved to South Africa from Malawi, he entered the Beat Battle competition where he met DJ Switch who was one of the judges. DJ Switch was so impressed by Gemini, he asked him to produce a song for him. He then met Cassper Nyovest by chance on the set of the music video shoot for the song and soon after he got signed to Family Tree Records – Cassper’s label.
Since then Gemini has been responsible for producing some of the biggest Hip Hop hits in recent years including Aewon Wolf’s Walking and Dabbing and Juice Back, the song that was arguably Nasty C’s big break.
A few days ago, news that he left Family Tree broke; announced through a press statement citing a need for growth as the reason for leaving. Starting with a single titled Bando which is due for release on the 24th of March he will now be releasing music under his own label, Rudebouy Major which is in partnership with Da Les’ Fresh To Def label.
“I made the move because I wanted to grow. It’s not a move I made by myself you know. I consulted with Cassper and Family Tree and they understood and we all agreed that this is the type of setup that I need at this point in my career,” he says when we meet up in Braamfontein a couple of days after the release of the statement. This time around the red and blue tips are gone as his dreads have been dyed all black. He looks polished wearing a red bomber jacket over a black top with black jeans and red sneakers. He refuses to give away any more details stating that he doesn’t want to ruin relationships by turning the move into a PR frenzy.
He’d rather tell me that he will be releasing an album around June and Bando is set to be the lead single off it. The album will still cater to the trap market but it will also see him experimenting with a more “African sound” with “two big Nigerian collaborations” he wishes to keep as a surprise.
“I was actually working on a mixtape and it was actually Cassper’s idea. He was like ‘Yo, I think people are ready for an album’ and I listened to him, I always take his advice seriously so I was like okay, let me hold on to the mixtape and work on the album.”
Jacket and Shorts: TOPMan | Shoes: Gemini’s Own VANS | Watch: TITAN
Shirt and Shoes: Studio W | Pants: TOPMan | Watch: TITAN | Sunglasses: RayBan
Pants: TOPMan | Faux Fur Gillet: Sourced | Shoes: Studio W : Sunglasses: RayBan | Watch: TITAN