Arts & Leisure

Conquering the demon within- the rise and fall of a rap star

…Jiji-F talks about stardom, fake life, drug addiction, depression and ‘coming-out’

Chris Theko

Their music captures the hearts of thousands of people, but behind the creative brilliance of some of the most popular hit-makers is a dark cloud of a dirty life of drug and substance abuse and addiction.

The drugs are mostly engaged as a way of keeping up with the standard of stardom and maintaining a life of glitz and glamour, fame and fortune as displayed in the social media and TV.

Rapper Moji Mokotso, has a horse of the same colour to ride home as well.

The 25-year-old rapper and songwriter who goes by the stage moniker Jiji F, told Newsday Arts in a tell-all interview this week that he got involved in drug abuse while also trying to keep up with celebrity status life and in the process slipped into depression, a feat from which he counts himself as lucky to have escaped.

“Due to my high at the time, being one of the most sought-after artists in terms of getting bookings and being on top of my game, there were things I did not think I should be seen doing, while there are those seen as cool an in line with my life status as a star,” he reminisces.

Though he would appear as if life was on an upward scale for him during those times, Jiji-F said all he was doing was to protect his image because he felt that he had to appear as someone who was making it and that was his first mistake.

“For, instance, I moved out of my parents’ house and had to get a rented house. When this happened, I stayed at Khubetsoana Lecoop and rented a stand-alone house because I was not about to rent a room in in line of flats (malaeneng), after all I was Jiji-F” he said.

Having been one of the initiators of the local hip hop music scene, he paved a way with a lot of first times for a Lesotho artist, making performance appearances on popular South African etv soapie called Rhythm City and hip hop tv show called Shiz Niz and becoming party to an Amstel advert short in one of the South African highlife suburban neighbourhoods, Sandton city. 

South Africa being the economic hub of the sub-region, is seen by most showbiz players as the highlight of their careers because of a vastly rich and broad market. It is for this reason that whenever they are able to break into that scene, most local acts feel at the zenith of their career lives.

“I was so vested in living this life of a musician according to what I was seeing on tv, I was living a celebrity life standard where everything is about image and keeping up appearances at clubs.

“That is where I got it all wrong but that was the mindset for almost all artists but I was big because of the big stages I was performing at.

“Due to the music and all the other things including the fame, I got depressed. My trigger to that depression was that here you are, famous and all but no bank account to back it up. I had set a standard for myself that was too hard to maintain,” he said. 

His rise came about soon after he gone solo, leaving BoogyBoys which was made up of Laurel, Junior SY and K.I (now known as Abuti Thato) who left the group earlier. 

His first solo project was a mix tape titled ‘International Beats’, which was closely followed by his most successful mix tape titled ‘Imso JijiF’ and later a studio album Maloti Green Capital (MGC).

The ‘Animale’ hit-maker said he constantly found himself living beyond his means while trying to keep appearance of living a lavish life of a star personality, which was, unfortunately, not commensurate with his bank balance.

“I used to believe that when I get to the big name clubs, I can’t be seen drinking nothing but an expensive bottle because man I am Jiji F, and I cannot be seen otherwise,” said the rapper. 

Jiji F said the depression came after he had tried to numb the frustration with drugs which had only made things worse, because with drugs came addiction, and with addiction came dependency which meant he had to continually be intoxicated in order to go on with life.

“I went to see my mother one day very high, however, when I got to my home, my mother was not around, so I ate and slept. When I woke up I was feeling much better. This is when realized that I was actually always high on something, and noticed that my substance abuse was getting out of control,” he said, adding that it was at that moment when he decided to take charge of his life and quit the pretending.

This was when he had decided to make an exit from the musical scene to fix himself up. He then set-off to go for drug addiction rehabilitation which was not to be since there was no such facility operating in the country.

“I then left Le-Coop Khubetsoana because I realized it was what contributed to my always being high. What was so helpful to me was the acceptance of my reality and the change of environment” he said with pride.

He said moving from a place where there were a lot of temptations helped him to recuperate and recover on his own, but mostly also accepting his reality and facing his fears and living beyond people’s expectations or worrying “what people would say”.   

The artist has since moved to his own site in Sekamaneng where he has spent the past three years building his own house with his own hands and some help from his family. He said that the project of building his own house has been eye opening and refreshing to his mental and financial stability.

“Coming here was really helpful and also letting go of the ego, letting go of what I thought I knew and what I thought my standards were and dropping all the ‘I can’t do this or be seen like this’ attitude” he said.

Before moving into the house some time last year, Jiji F was staying in a shack erected on the same plot some three years on.  

“The change in attitude was simply from my new year’s resolution because I came to my site on the 1st January 2018 after spending the December building the shack,” he said.

The December of 2017 was the last time he had been involved with any substance abuse, and attributes the progress to the support he got from his family and friends, since he beat drug addiction without going to rehab but with self-introspection and prioritizing what was important in his life.

“My word of counsel to the current and up-and-coming flocks of artists is to not live by other people’s standards and let fame get to their heads and live real. The life you see on tv and social media as life of stars is not real and drugs are not a way of life of a rapper” he warned.

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