Thapelo Modiela (also known as “SPeeKa”) is a music producer, voice-over artist, and videographer born and raised in Soweto (born in Diepkloof, raised in Protea Glen). Though he produces various genres, it is his Hip-Hop productions that have gained him a lot of attention on the underground Soweto music scene. He began producing in 2005, while in the 11th Grade in High School after his father bought him his first Desktop Computer. After learning a few things in the producing craft, with no formal music training, he and his two best friends started a Kwaito group called “BloodHoundz”. It was during this period that he noticed that being a recording artist wasn’t really his strong point and that his true passion was in making beats.
He directs and edits music videos, some of which can be found on his YouTube channel – which boasts more than 2000 subscribers and counting along with his Cypher series "Sotra Cyphers”, special interviews and behind the scenes footage from some the projects he has released. SPeeKa also presents “Kasi Rap Records”, a music series dedicated to the Hip-Hop sub-genre “Kasi Rap” that airs every Sunday at 1:30 pm on GauTV (DStv channel 265). The series incorporates the YouTube rap cypher series “Sotra Cyphers”, which he shoots and edits himself. SPeeKa’s beats have been featured on the South African Battle Rap TV show “One Mic” which aired on SABC1. Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival? The experience with Hip-Hop Film Festival South Africa has been incredible. This was my first documentary film and a friend suggested that I submit it to some festivals. When I came across HHFF on Film Freeway I knew immediately that this would be the perfect festival to try and be part of considering how big a part Hip-Hop (and more specifically Kasi Rap) plays in my life.
Why are stories from the culture important?
Extremely important. If we don't tell our own stories, we risk the possibility of either remaining in the past forever without anyone knowing about them or having them being told by people who don't really care about them. I am lucky to have found a story worth telling, about a very important period in South African Hip-Hop.
What projects are you working on now? At the moment I am still working on adding more SA Hip-Hop and Kasi Rap content onto my YouTube channel. This content includes my series "Sotra Cyphers" where I invite rappers to spit bars on camera to beats I made. I am also in the process of writing and shooting the 3rd season of the TV Show "Kasi Rap Records" which I also host. I have a few ideas for more documentary films on Kasi Rap and SA Hip-Hop but will hold on to them until I'm confident enough to bring them to life.
Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival is important?
Harlem Hip-Hop Film House and Hip-Hop Film Festival South Africa are important because they add value to the work of filmmakers. A year ago, I was just a guy who put together a film with a few of his homies, today that very film is being internationally recognized. It also made people who didn't bother to watch the film realize just how important and it is and that is all because of the Harlem Hip-Hop Film House and Hip-Hop Film Festival South Africa. For that, I am eternally grateful.