NILZ is a name that will soon be on everyone’s lips as he is rapidly leaving his mark on Joburg’s hip-hop scene.

He has performed at the Black Orchid for the Dance Hall event, at The Car Wash in Yeoville, as well as a Poets Anonymous event.

Now emceeing under the Black Diamond Club, NILZ (23) has been writing poetry and doing what he loves since childhood.

“First and foremost I am a poet,” NILZ says, “all hip-hop is really is poetry with a beat. I don’t see myself as a musician, but as a poet who gets his message across with the help of music.”

His message is one of acceptance and understanding. NILZ believes that American culture has influenced many aspects of our lives here in South Africa, most notably our music scene. He however feels that we should be moving away from any “American” style of hip-hop and create a unique identity.

“We hear 50-Cent and Jay Z rapping about driving Bentleys and drinking Crystal but I don’t do that and nor does anyone I know. Therefore we have to speak about what we can relate to and by association what the people can relate to.

“If I’m up on stage boasting about things that the audience can’t relate to, I’ll lose them, and so will my message.”

Part of that message is to challenge conventional perceptions that we all have. NILZ is a tall and lanky guy who wears glasses. He has been affectionately been called the ‘Hip-Hop Nerd’, a nickname he considers a compliment.

“I’m not trying to be anyone else but myself. I don’t try and aspire to imitate or mimic anyone in the world. If I already have a nickname it means people are remembering me. Hip-hop is culture before it is a genre of music. If I can represent that culture in my own unique way then I have already won.”

It is artists like NILZ who prove that South Africa is heading in the right direction in terms of establishing a unique identity.

“We are riding a wave of optimism at the moment. It’s high time that we start seeing this country as something to be proud of. We no longer need to follow other people’s standards. We are now setting our own.”

NILZ is currently recording with Black Diamond Club and has a new single Big Bang Theory.

Check out the NILZ Facebook page for upcoming gig info and for previews of his tracks.