In 2015, Ambitiouz Entertainment launched with Soweto raised trap superstar Emtee as their frontman. Fast forward almost a decade later, Pretoria has become one of the bubbling centers of South African Hip Hop with Mashbeatz providing the background sound for a group of young rappers who are taking the industry by storm, from Cap City.
Today there is way more than Khuli Chana and Blaklez hoisting the Capital’s flag, the game is now replete with rappers from Atteridgeville to Mamelodi, rappers like Tyson Sybatelli, Thato Saul, The Big Hash, just to list a few.
The question now begs, what does all these have to do with A-Reece?
Lehlohonolo Ronald Mataboge, most commonly called A-Reece by fans is a South African rapper from Danville Extension 3, Pretoria. The rapper was one of those signed as the first batch of artistes on Ambitiouz Entertainment, alongside his big brother Jay Jody of B3nchmarq at the time, Fifi Cooper, Emtee, Saudi, Miss Pru and Sjava, in 2016.
The same year his debut single ‘Couldn’t’ featuring Emtee went viral and it was followed by other smash hits ‘Mgani,’ ‘Paradise,’ and ‘Zimbali.’
Reece was never one to be shy about where he’s from even before he was signed, always taking every opportunity to let you know he hails from Pretoria— the most not so subtle of these references being titling a song ‘Meanwhile in Pitori.’
A-Reece did not however come into the game alone, apart from his brother, his group of childhood friends, in the form of the group One Thousand Degreez usually accompanied Reece in his freestyle videos and shows, playing opening act for The boy doing things.
“Cap City, rap city, hip hop is in the building.”
Reece was even more vocal about his roots after leaving Ambitiouz in 2017. Even more active in putting his homies on, One Thousand Degreez joined Mellow, Ecco, Ex-Global in The Wrecking Crew, alongside Katlehong-born Flvme and Limpopo born Mashbeatz, who all operated from Pitori save for the brief moment they lived in Honeydew in the North Rand.
Reece is so grounded to his roots that after the group disbanded he moved permanently back home—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
With Mashbeatz providing the Soundscape, Reece and his cohorts stuck to a signature sound— fusing Drake-esque melodic raps with heart on the sleeves lyricism, and a militant, in your face delivery…over Mash’s chopped old school movie soundtrack and 70s soul samples, daunting dark synths and 808 hi hats.
“First single I was mixing trap with the bars.”
Reece had rapped on ‘You Welcome’ on his debut album. The Wrecking Crew boys were a part of the first group of South African acts to douse their music in the American new wave of trap and emo music alongside Durban’s Nasty C, and Matatiele/Soweto’s Emtee.
They debunked the myth that all the good hip hop in the country came from Jozi or Cape Town.
In 2017, not long after his first hit single with Stogie T, Pretoria born trapper and producer Zoocci Coke Dope collaborated with on his biggest song up till that time ‘All Night Long,’ the country was also put on to The Big Hash on his Reece-assisted single ‘Outcast.’
One could sight both Zoocci and Hash on stage with TWC on stage from Pretoria to The North, from Free State to Eastern Cape, like Reece famously rapped “every show we go at large, I’m my own boss,” “we move as a unit, come show us you G.”
Then TWC broke up into two seperate entities;
Rubber Band Gang and Lean Team, and then Mashbeatz and Flvme left the team in 2021, the revolution did not stop.
Despite not being from the city, Mash and Fuego continued to shape the sound of Pretoria even after no longer being affiliated with Reece. Flvme through his numerous collaborations with The Big Hash, Ecco the Beast and other new wave Pitori trap acts.
Mashbeatz floated his ‘Outta This World’ stable in Summer 21 and produced an album for Thato Saul and Tyson Sybatelli and then for himself.
In the same year A-Reece partnered with his brother to form the group bluE TapE and through their album and Reece’s mixtape introduced audiences to such underground acts as Belo Salo, Marcus Harvey and Ayanda Jiya, despite these acts not hailing from the capital.
On 25K’s debut album ‘Pheli Makaveli’ Reece and his brother Jay Jody appeared on the lead single ‘Hustlers Prayer’ and delivered arguably the frtaure verse of the year, putting mainstream audiences on to yet another budding Pretoria talent.
Wordz The Prince who has been Reece’s right hand man since the TWC days, since making his debut on 2017’s ‘Long Lost Letters’ also dropped his debut solo album ‘Product of a Praying Mother‘ in 2021 with a Reece Collab and an appearance on Reece’s mixtape dropped the same year.
The next generation of Pretoria hip hop spearheaded by Tyson Sybatelli and Marcus Harvey amongst others are reaping off the groundwork doje by the Mataboge brothers and Mashbeatz.
The soundscape of the city has greatly influenced by Mashbeatz’ sould samples, IMP Tha Don and Iceman Beatz’ daunting horns and bells, and Zoocci Coke Dope’s hi-hats and 808s.
All these artists and producers have one thing in common, A-Reece affiliations and co-signs.
Now the whole country wants a taste of the sound from Pitori, as Mash is working with more artists all over Mzansi, last year’s ‘Never Ride’ and its multiple remixes proved that and now even Durban’s finest, Nasty C and Tellaman were seen in studio with Mash the President.
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