GRIZZLYBEAR  real name Zwelethu Yoko is a Gugulethu native and a member of hip hop ensemble K.Y.D. Underground in Cape Town. Last month saw the release of his first mixtape aptly titled I’m a Grizzly not a Polar, as a continuation of the crew’s release series which got off from last year when The Hype Team and U.N.A. dropped a mixtape and beat tape, respectively. Early this year Capitol A. put out his own offering and I have it from good authority that we can expect Mhey to drop his next.

Back when he was still in primary school, Bear caught the hip hop bug like so many of folks who weren’t otherwise considered headz got caught in the 90’s west coast vs east coast debacle, which remains the most publicised feud in hip hop, as a result of the beef between Biggie and Pac. Coincidentally, the gang war between the Zulu and Dogg Pound gangs in Gux  seemed to compound the glamour that surrounded the lifestyle that both artists lead at the time.” I must admit, I started out as another young nigga who was attracted that ol’,’west side vs east side shit. I liked that element at first and I thought that’s what it was all about, being a thug gangsta nigga, and so I viewed hip hop as another expression of that lifestyle’, he recalls. But in time he would come to learn that there was more to this culture than streaming of curse words and ill willing of perceived enemies.

Thanks to niggaz that I like to call street teachers, who by the way, can be found in any hood, he learnt that there other more reasonable connotations of the culture. You know those type niggaz in the hood who can’t help but drop knowledge on a nigga at any given moment on any given topic. He was lucky to have one of those in his hood at the time.


He tells me,”There was this one nigga in ma street  who used to play rap music, he was a little older than I was and his music was different than what I was used to listening, and so, he schooled the nigga on some whole other sub genre of rap altogether. I mean that nigga opened me up to some Talib Kweli and Mos Def and them’. He has since passed, R.I.P ma nigga, but yo, the nigga set me on a journey of self discovery way more than being a gangsta ever could’. In 2007 he took the plunge into  emceeing for the first time at the All N.Y’s Sunday jam sessions and subsequently hooked up with cats that would eventually become K.Y.D Underground.

MIXTAPE REVIEW: I’m a Grizzly not a Polar dropped on April the 10th (which coincides with his birthday). It’s packed with a healthy and balanced mix of venom which ranges from street wisdom to his penchant for Gux way of life for which he professes his unwavering love. From the Intro joint  to the melodic serenade ‘Friends wit benefits’, to tha street banga that is’Rapping ma Hood’, and the brutally lyrical fav of mines Underground State of Mind, Bear shows off  prowess on some of the illest beats from U.N.A, L.B, and Capitol A. Other  cuts to look out for are World War and A Love letter to Gux.

Bear is definitely worth a listen if not for his unique style and voice, then for his unconditional love for Gux, his hood.



Tha Layman