This week’s cool kid on campus is Matome ‘Gil’ Ramotlhola, an up-and-coming actor and rapper.
Matome Ramotlhola, also known as ‘Gil Village Boy’, is an up-and-coming actor and rapper.
His stage name is derived from his experience growing up in Ga-Sekgopo, a small village in Limpopo, while his passion for acting was first sparked when he watched Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema, a film about a crook who builds a criminal empire in Johannesburg.
“After discovering the movie [in 2008], I was really interested in acting. Later on I started writing my own plays and performing at church with my church mates,” he said.
The honours student in applied drama and theatre has since laid claim to some rather impressive work experience, such as his role in Hakuna Matata, a production by his alma mater, the University of Limpopo, for which he was awarded best male actor.
He also appeared in the South African television series, The River, alongside actor Jet Novuka. “It was a really significant moment for me,” reflects 22-year-old Ramotlhola.
Although he is now taking a year off to focus on his academics, Ramotlhola said that this had not stopped him from making music.
“I really became interested in rap back in 2008. In 2011, I started writing my own songs and then I started recording in 2013. Artists like Proverb and Slikour really influenced by music career, as I was always listening to them and looking up to them as artists,” he said.
When he was younger, his neighbour would lend him hip-hop DVDs and CDs, which has established his taste in music and prompted his desire to become a rapper.
Ramotlhola is currently working on a project that aims to showcase his journey as a boy moving out of his home village in an attempt to survive, and perhaps even succeed, in the City of Gold. This project will be released as an Electronic Playlist (EP) titled DustVil (short for Dusty Village), on November 1.
“The project speaks back to societal issues, including how women get raped by people who are supposed to protect them, drugs sold to school kids, substance abuse by the youth, depression and the lack of seriousness it is given in the black community, and the high rate of graduate unemployment,” said Ramotlhola.
These sentiments are expressed in the lyrics of one of his new songs Trouble: “No love in the city / More drugs getting sold to the kids / People getting killed over their own money / There’s crime everywhere.”
“As an artist I am more focused on spreading hope and peace through my music. Everything that I write is something that will relate to my audience [youth between the ages of 12 and 25],” he said.
Ramotlhola described himself as a ‘social rapper’ because he is more focused on “making timeless music than hits. I am not concerned about fame but the impact of my music on my community [Ga-Sekgopo] and my country”.
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FEATURED IMAGE: This week’s cool kid on campus, Matome Ramotlhola. Photo: Imaan Moosa