I first came across Robin Thirdfloor in 2016 when I was booking acts for Outland, an ambitious music festival that was fun for the one time that it happened. I was looking for young hip-hop acts who were doing cool things but hadn’t really been on festival lineups. Sthembelo Dlamini, our hip-hop plug at Durban is Yours, recommended a few acts but 2 in particular stood out, ByLwansta and Robin Thirdfloor. Both these cats have since carved unique paths for themselves in the industry and have achieved impressive feats, both locally and internationally, which says something for Sthem’s ear for talent.
This is about Robin, but you should definitely google ByLwansta if you’re not familiar yet.
At the time, Robin was promoting his Sounds Empty Pockets Make EP, a homage to old school hip-hop that was all about being young and broke, which is always relatable. On the EP, he told the story of a young rap dude with a fake gold chain who just wanted to be like Biggie and Pac and to do his mama proud.
I’m pretty sure his mama is proud by now, and if she’s not, she should be. I mean, off that EP the young rapper went from Umlazi to SXSW, which I’d consider to be a pretty big deal. Coming off of that career high, Robin dropped his ‘Bhotela’ EP, exclusively to Deezer thanks to locking down an ambassadorship with the streaming platform.
Bhotela is vastly different to S.E.P.M and Robin seems like a vastly different person from the kid he was in 2015. There’s more confidence in everything he does now and Robin seems more certain of the path he’s walking. While S.E.P.M was an ode to old school hip-hop from the States, Bhotela is an ode to Umlazi and draws from kwaito and hip-hop to deliver something more distinct.
Every time I chat to the young rapper and entrepreneur (he has a side hustle called Somdanger Concepts), he always has new questions about the industry and how to navigate it. He’s constantly calculating his next move and putting in the time and effort to make sure that everything he does is just right. From visual aesthetics to sponsorship proposals, Robin makes sure that everything is on wax which is why I don’t doubt that 2018 will be the year his pockets start jingling.