Interview: Zambian Rapper Holstar Explains What Africa Is and Breaks Down Tracks On “African Diamond” EP

Zambian rap pioneer and African hip hop enthusiast Holstar recently teamed up with Malawi’s Dominant 1 to release the “African Diamond” EP, a six track collaborative project dedicated to helping Africans maximize their true potentials. They also proffer sociopolitical insights on what Africa Is. 

Africa, substantially regarded as home by many black people around the world has been pillaged and stripped off its identity, with Africans often ignorantly stereotyped as hungry, uneducated and in some cases poverty stricken. This mendacious rhetoric has been regurgitated and aggrandized by several media houses/brands world over for decades, but Holstar believes it’s up to Africans to preserve and promote our culture by shifting the narrative to what makes the continent a shining light. 

“Africa is the present,” he tells explains. “it is a Super power that is not aware of its importance in the bigger picture.”

“It is important for Africans to elevate and embrace our heritage because if we don’t it will be lost,” he added.

“African Diamond” also references significant landmarks and several African pioneers like Kwame Nkrumah, Steve Biko, Aliko Dangote, and Nelson Mandela. Considered a pioneer himself, with over two decades of learning and making introspective music, Holstar often feels disconnected from the modern day genre, nevertheless he remains focused on helping the youth “get their money up.”

“Rule No.1 get rid of them fakes,” he raps on Dolla Circulate. “I’m more! Patrice Motsepe not a Giuseppe, African Kings Brown suits we show skin.”

Read our full interview with Holstar below. Slightly edited for content and clarity. 

First things first. This project is incredible. Are you pleased with the responses so far?

Thank you Brother! The response has been amazing, didn’t expect such reception to the project but it has been humbling. Happy.

Holstar: Y’all sound hungry and inspired. What led to the release of African Diamond with D1?

D1 and myself have been working together for a long time – over ten years. We thought it was the right time to work on a joint project – We both agreed we needed to put together something for Africa and the Youth to be specific.

– When did you and D1 begin the creative process for African Diamond?

  During lockdown in 2020

– How did Covid impact the creative process?

Because of covid in being in lockdown from time to time – it gave us a bit of time to create and the creativity was great – we kept on going back and forth making sure the songs were as sharp as possible.

– How did you manage to stay calm through the madness of 2020?

Constantly creating – the music is really therapy. Keeping busy and always talking with friends and family.

– Right now, at this stage in your career, do you feel more comfortable making more empowering records?

Absolutely, with experience comes wisdom – It is important to share that with younger artists because at this point it is all about inspiring others.

– On this project you and D1 talk a lot about Africans elevating and embracing our heritage. Why do you feel this is important? 

It is important for Africans to elevate and embrace our heritage because if we don’t it will be lost. Music, books and other media are vital in preserving our culture.– Is East African Hip Hop unfairly judged?

I don’t think so – Khaligraph [Jones] and others are holding it down! I do think there needs to be more cross continental collaborations.

– Why do you think East African rappers receive less recognition across Africa?

It is a smaller locally market than say Nigeria and South Africa. The absence of major labels might be another factor but things are changing – With collaborations and other deliberate moves things will change for better.

– What are some things you know now that you wished you knew earlier in your career?

That you don’t need a major deal and Vinyl is gold.

– What is “Dolla Circulate” about?

Financial literacy – how one can get their money up but also stay clued with what’s going on around them money wise.

Holstar interview with creative hiphop

Image courtesy the artist

– “Africa Is” is such a dope record. What inspired that one?

We sampled Zamrock Band – Musi O Tunya and that was the start of everything. The words Africa is our own Motherland helped us write our verses that really push the narrative of a better Africa for our kids.

– “Lost Generation” talks about some modern trends. Do you ever feel like you don’t belong in today’s hip hop?

Yes, sometimes I do feel like I am not in the industry…just a spectator that Raps. I do understand that everyone creates their own lane but it is just a reminder that it is not too late to start a positive conversation where things have gone off track.

– What is Africa to you?

Africa is the present – it is a Super power that is not aware of its importance in the bigger picture.

– What is your vision for a new Zambia?

[Laughs] This sounds Presidential! A New Zambia for me would be one with Young  and Wise Energy that will bring Zambia to the fore of Global advancement.

– Will you ever run for office? 

I don’t see myself running for any political office but I would really Love to be in a position that would help me change alot of people’s lives for the better. 

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