Emile YX? Biography
Emile YX? (Emile Jansen) was born in Grassy Park, Cape Town. He is the son of a primary school teacher Mom and soccer coach Dad. Emile is thus a proponent of experiential education and is also a qualified teacher. He is often considered to be one of the Pioneers of South African Hip Hop and is a founder member of the legendary South African Hip Hop Group, Black Noise. He is best known for developmental work and community outreach projects through Heal the Hood Project.
I started b-boying (breaking) for Pop Glide Crew in 1982 & am thus seen as a pioneer of South African Hip Hop. In 1984 we won our first competition at Route 66, Town Centre, Mitchells Plain. From 1993 I started spreading B-boying throughout South Africa by teaching and creating events. I was a member of the Black Noise Crew 1997 when we won 3rd place at the World Champs at Battle Of The Year in Germany. I also managed the South African All-star team that won 4th place at Battle Of The Year in 2000. From 1997 – 2008 I helped Heal The Hood Project fundraise to send more than 250 of our best dancers to international events like Battle Of The Year in Germany, R16 in Korea, Red Bull BC One in Brazil & India, Trinity International Hip Hop Festival in the USA and IBE in The Netherlands. From 2011 – 2013 I judges a reality dance show on ETV called “Step up Or Step Out”
In 1988 I founded the Black Noise Hip Hop Group with other members of the group. I have recorded and released 13 albums with Black Noise including Pumpin’ Loose Da Juice (1992), Rebirth Of Mind & Hip Hop Culture (1992), Black Facts (1994), Rebirth CD (1995), Questions (1996), Hip Hop Won’t Stop (1998), Circles Of Fire (2000), Rotational High (2002), Jam Sessions (2004), Getcha On The Floor (2006), Best Of Black Noise (2008), Stone Garden Soldiers (2010) and Black Noise Matters (2019). I also recorded and released 13 solo Emile YX? Albums:- Who Am I? (2003), Conquering Lions (2006), Roar – Live it Loud (2008), Conscious Rhymes For Unconscious Times (2010), Afrikaaps soundtrack (2011), Born & Bred of the Cape Flats (2012), Mixed Mense (2013), Take Our Power Back (2015), Demockery (2016), From B-boys To Being Men (2016), Songs & Stories For My Son (2017), Songs & Stories for my Daughter (2018), Afrocation (2018) and Kaapse Katte (2019). I’m also featured on 9 compilation albums like Monster Hits (1992), Do For Self Compilation (1994), A Moment In Cape Town (2001), Battle Of The Year Compilations (2000, 2001 & 2013), Afro-lution Compilation (2004), Baobab Tree Compilation (2005), Mother City Compilation (2007), Anti-World Cup (2010), Internationally Known 2 (2012) and Fees Must Fall (2015). I also helped to release 7 Heal the Hood compilation albums and helped 6 local artists release their solo albums. Artists like Plain Madnizz, Isaac Mutant, Lionz Of Zion, Ancient Men, Jamyaka Poston, Conquering Lionz and Resistencia.
In 1990 I created Black Noise News (BNN), which was the foundation for creating South Africa’s first Hip Hop Magazine Da Juice in 1993. It was originally called The Message. I have since written and contributed to 24 books: What is Hip Hop?, My Hip Hop is African & Proud, Conscious Rhymes For Unconscious Times, Heal The Hood B-boying Grade 1 Manual, (Rhymes, Articles, Poetry, Short Stories and Sketches) R.A.P.S.S. version 1-3, Land i Forandring, Barn och unga i sodra Afrika, Bushman Creation Story, The Story Of The Wind, Fire The Dancer, Princess Vlei, The Big Water-snake, The Lioness, Sally the Salmon, Why Turtles Cry, Saartjie Baartman, Girl That Made The Milky Way, Reflections on Knowledge Learning & Social Movements, The Hip Hop Cook Book & Reconnect the String. I recently co-edited Neva Again with UCLA Professor H. Samy Alim & South African Professors Adam Haupt & Quentin Williams. I am currently working on 3 more books called Making A Black Noise 1 & 2, Hip Hop Education: We Live This and I have co-written a chapter for the book, The 5th Element, edited by H. Samy Alim, Jeff Chang, and Casey Wong on the University of California Press (2021)
My involvement with politics in the 1980s demanded that our Hip Hop culture in Cape Town would operationalize our community activism. As soon as we were writing rhymes about the situations in our community, we had to take action. In 1991 Black Noise started with Rap To The Rescue, then Library Holiday Programmes tours to motivate and teach kids to read, followed by teaching them the elements of Hip Hop Culture (What is Hip Hop? Library tour, followed by the book). In 1998 I created Heal the Hood Project, which won Best Hip Hop Organization in 2010. As a qualified school teacher, I brought education into South African Hip Hop. I helped raise funds for more than 250 artists to travel to international events. I have taught many others how to teach in order to spread the dance. Heal The Hood Project is currently in 15 schools. I created a syllabus that is being taught to 1500 youth in the Western Cape.
In 1991, as a member of Black Noise and a schoolteacher, I assisted Peninsula Feeding Scheme to raise funds to feed school children in Cape Town, an event in conjunction with Rap To The Rescue. I also assisted the local Hip Hop community in hosting events like the Power Jam in Mitchells Plain. In 1993, as a member of Black Noise, we created the Do For Self Concerts to help schools and the Hip Hop Community, which were hosted in Grassy Park, Retreat and Mitchells Plain. In 1995 I hosted the South African version of the Universal Hip Hop Nation Anniversary. I also created events like African Hip Hop Indaba, Battle of the Year South Africa, Shut Up Just Dance, African Battle Cry, Cape Flats Uprising, Learn To Surf Day, Up The Rock, Cape Flats Film Festival, Positive Poster Week, Cape Flats Performing Arts Conference, Our Hip Hop Festival, Reconnect the String, Black Noise Anniversary and Freestyle Session South Africa.
I have been involved in various documentaries like Cape Of Hip Hop, Cape Town Vibes, The Creators, What Are We Doing Here?, From B-boys To Being Men, Bomb It (2 of my songs feature), Afrikaaps, Emile YX? B-boy Basics, Coline & Robbie (wrote C.A.R.A Song for doccie), Dressing The Princess, Break Like You and One Table Two Elephants.
I have written and performed in award winning plays like Afrikaaps, which is a play about the black history of the language that was created in Cape Town and co-opted by the Afrikaner community as a key part of their white supremacist, nationalist project The language’s origins expose the mixed heritage of the community that created it. Ons Bou, Mixing It Up, Break & Stompie.
Teaching & Speaking
I have also been invited to teach & speak at University of California, Stanford, Harvard, University of San Francisco, Duke, NYC, Washington University, Sacramento State University, Teachers College, Trinity University, Gothenberg University, University of Cape Town University of the Western Cape & Stellenbosch University.
I was recently inducted into the South African Hip Hop Museums Hall Of Fame. I also received an Honorary Award & Ubuntu Activism Award from the South African Hip Hop Awards. Other awards were The Mayor’s Award for Black Noise song about Greening The City. I also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Iconic Urban Dance Awards for my solo contributions to Hip Hop Dance & Culture, as well as Black Noise winning a Lifetime Achievement Award. Other awards include the LeadSA Award, ETV South African Heroes Award, Mandela Monday Award, Arts & Culture Award for contributions to Literature, and the Moshito Music Conference Award for my contributions to Hip Hop Culture in South Africa. With dance I have been blessed to tour & perform in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, England, Italy, USA, Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe.
Sharing Stages with Notable Artists & People
I have also been able to share stages with President Nelson Mandela, Dr Alan Boesak, President Jacob Zuma, The Queen Of Sweden, Robbie Jansen, Tony Schilder, Hilton Schilder, Prophets of Da City, Manu Dibungo, Salif Keita, Baba Maal, Lemmy Special, Brenda Fassie, Shabba Ranks, Dr Alban, Duran Duran, 2Unlimited, Snoop Doggy Dog, Pharrell, Joe, Shaggy, Mario, Arrested Development, HHP, Kurt Darren, Steve Hoffmeyer, Black Thought of the Roots, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Kyle Shepherd, Jitsvinger, Blaq Pearl, Bliksemstraal, Moenier Monox Adams, Lukmaan & Emo Adams, Shane Cooper, Vicky Sampson, Jennifer Jones, Zane Adams, The Boyz, K’naan, YoungstaCPT, Dr Victor, Freshly Ground, The Rasta Rebels, Sons of Selassie, Marc Alex, Walk This Way, Smoking Brass, The Usual, Syndicate Sisters, AK 47, Sisters In Command, Jam B and many more.