Durban – Known as Verge The Rapper to his fans, Sphesihle Mhlanga, 20, remembers scraping bits out of the peanut butter jar for supper.
And this week, the rapper, who grew up in Queensburgh, said matric pupils needed to put their heads down as the 2020 matric exams got under way.
Verge, who has released his first record, Out The Mud, on SoundCloud, that’s due to be released on other platforms in the next few weeks, said, “When I wrote matric last year, I put my music aside completely. I also made sure I got enough sleep so my mind was fresh in the morning.
“Looking to my future, I want to be more than just a rapper,” he said, highlighting that to develop a career in the music industry, “a matric certificate is the entrance”.
Verge and his younger sister moved into the Malvern Child and Youth Care Centre when he was 10 as his mother was unable to look after them financially.
Going back and visiting the centre this week, which was his home for eight years, Verge had the youngsters hanging onto his every word as he joked and chatted with them.
His journey to overcome life’s trials and tribulations as he grew up is reflected in Out The Mud.
“There were nights when I would eat from the peanut butter jar, just scraping some out, or some nights where we didn’t eat at all. It was tough, there was no finance.
“We came to the city to live with my aunt, but then she died. So my younger sister and I moved here (Malvern Child and Youth Care Centre) as my mom had to try to get a job and get her life together,” he said.
Throughout his teenage years at the centre he wrote his own songs, with the likes of AKA, Nasty C and Cassper Nyovest being his inspiration.
“I realised that when I came here, there were a whole lot of opportunities. I had already learned if you don’t speak and ask, you don’t receive. You have to go out there and get it,” he said.
And that’s what he did when Boss Rides visited the centre with their customised cars.
“I chatted to them and they also own Boss Life Entertainment here in Durban, so I was invited to go to the studio,” he said.
That was at the beginning of the year and he signed with them soon after getting his matric certificate.
When Covid-19 hit SA shores, with lockdown following, Verge said he used his social media presence to promote his upcoming release.
“I dropped a couple of videos of me rapping. I think lockdown was a blessing in disguise, it helped me get a high online presence. I now have over 2 000 followers on Instagram.
“Out The Mud represents the hard time in life, the struggle to get out of it and that things are not just handed to you. My music is definitely a release on how to deal with my past.
“My message to young people is that as big as your dreams are, school is first and you have to get that certificate. After that, go out and get it,” he said.
Palesa Lechaka from Malvern Child and Youth Care Centre, said, “All the kids here know all of Verge’s songs, lyric by lyric. He’s always been very respectful and he’s also very outspoken and a go-getter. We’re behind him all the way.”
Boss Life Entertainment is a Durban-based SA music record label which promotes up-and-coming young musicians with Verge featuring on their Facebook page.
To catch up with him, go to Insta: @vergetherappersa
The Independent on Saturday