An innate storytelling ability and effortless delivery over organic instrumentals are the hallmarks of Cape Town-based rapper Luukhanyo. The anticipation for his upcoming project is undeniable after listening to his latest single, ‘Hii ROLLER’, so we took a look at the man behind the music to learn more about him and how he got here.

Luukhanyo’s evolving sound takes core inspiration from West Coast hip hop and 2000s R&B, with a conversational lyricism that allows you to connect with him and his music. For Luukanyo, music has always been a passion and a way of connecting with people. From a little kid attempting to bond with school friends through shared musical taste to a maturing artist giving you a window into his life through the stories he tells in raps, connecting with people through music has always been the goal.

Becoming Luukhanyo

Luukhanyo credits his cousin for introducing him to rap and fostering his desire to make music. “He was a big fan of music, specifically West Coast hip hop. He used to wake up every Saturday without fail and just play rap,” he says. Although Luukhanyo could barely speak English at the time, he would mumble along to the songs and discovered a talent for flowing with the rhythms and cadences of the verses he had grown to love. It wasn’t long before this obsession with listening to music grew into a compulsion to make it. 


[According to Luukhanyo, if it wasn’t for Lil Wayne, he probably would have never started rapping. PHOTO: Robert Sam-Kputu]

He describes the evolution of his sound as a reflection of his development as a person. His early work, released under the pseudonym Twizz Alfa, featured him rapping over trap beats and synthetic instrumentals that mirrored what was popular at the time, as well as the sounds of his peers.

This pressure to conform and desire to be accepted was not just evident in the beats he used but also in the delivery of his lyrics. Looking back, he recalls trying to project his voice on songs and having it come out as “loud” or “aggressive”. This aggression was a side effect of growing up in an environment that required him to stand up for himself, he explains. 

The transition from Twizz Alfa to making music as Luukhanyo was a process of introspection, self-acceptance and becoming unapologetically himself. He acknowledges this as a turning point that touched all aspects of his life, from his fashion to music, to how he carries himself as an individual. “I really want to know myself and understand who and where I am — and as I’ve become more myself, the music has gotten better,” he says.

These days, he raps in a conversational tone that mirrors his cool and soft-spoken personality, allowing him to say the things he wants without forcing it. Luukhanyo’s musical career has been a journey of personal growth, from his early flows emulating the smooth and charismatic delivery of his idols, such as Snoop and Dre, to finding his voice and making it his own.

Still got the groove

The process of becoming Luukhanyo didn’t just happen in the studio but also required a change in lifestyle. As it is for many people, the responsibilities of life tend to get in the way of your passions. For Luukhanyo, this came in the form of having to put music on hold and getting a job to make ends meet. 

What he initially intended to be a short working stint that would fund his music career and studio equipment, turned into a three-year hiatus that allowed him to reconnect with his passion — reinvigorating his desire to create music. He decided to follow his heart and is now back in the studio with a new, more mature sound that reflects his growth as an artist and an individual.


[Luukhanyo performing at 14Stories Rooftop Bar on 25 September. PHOTO: Flávio]

The contagious bassline and elite wordplay of ‘Hii ROLLER’, Luukhanyo’s latest funk-infected tune that tackles sad subject matters with such a playful tone, will have you grooving along from the first note. The song is an apt reflection of his current state of mind — simply enjoying the process of experimenting with sound and making the music he likes.

Luukhanyo is art

Luukhanyo acknowledges his songs as timestamps of his life and a means of getting closure. “It’s really just about me and the song — at the end of the day, the song will accept me just the way I am,” he explains.

The honesty in his music is part of what endears Luukhanyo to his listeners. One testament to his artistry is his ability to speak about his experiences, however tragic, but modify the tone to suit the intended mood of a song. “I always create from a point of wherever I am or whatever I feel,” he says. 


[Luukhanyo has been recording music since 2012 and his first release was in 2017 under the pseudonym Twizz Alfa. PHOTO: Robert Sam-Kputu]

As an admitted sound geek, Luukhanyo discovered a love for real instruments and is absorbed in how best to deliver an experience sonically. This focus on the musicality of hip-hop has translated into his live performances. 

Luukhanyo plays around with different versions of songs during his performances by adapting their tone and tempo to fit the energy and acoustics of the space. This artistic versatility ensures that no live audience gets the same experience. This is evident in the performances of his unreleased song ‘Venture’ — a working title — which depending on where you hear him perform it, can be an emotional and hard-hitting story of the realities of where he comes from and what he’s experienced or just a smooth-sounding track to bop your head and groove to while he tells you his truth. 

However, he admits this can be a double-edged sword, especially when performing unreleased music. “It creates a problem in the studio because you perform a song in different ways and fall in love with different versions of it, but then you get back to the studio to finish it, and you’ve got all these different versions, but you know some of them aren’t going to make the cut,” he says.

His intention with the music he is making now is to strip it back, simplify it, and just be himself, “You don’t want the music to get in the way of the message.”

Moving up and on to the next

Luukhanyo credits his current environment and the emerging crop of incredibly talented local musicians he is around with pushing him to up his game. He is presently immersed in the process of collaborating with different artists and producers while working on his debut EP. 


[Luukhanyo released his first demo in 2020 after dropping the name Twizz Alfa. PHOTO: Robert Sam-Kputu]

When pressed for a clue about its release date, he cleverly responds, “First things first, go stream ‘Hii ROLLER’! I have an idea of when I want the project to be released, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I want to allow the music to take control. I’ll let the songs tell me when they’re ready,” he explains.

For now, Luukhanyo’s ‘Hii ROLLER’ will be making its radio debut on Good Hope FM on 19 October. You can also catch him and his band — tentatively called The Hii Rollers — performing at various venues in-and-around Cape Town, with his next appearance at Kila G’s upcoming The Elegant Show with 135 Music on 6 November hosted at Selective Live.

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