GABORONE, Botswana, January 2020/ — Mpho Kalayamotho known professionally as VS Cufflinks is a Motswana rapper, producer and songwriter, who rose to fame in the new millennium (2008) courtesy of his national anthem, “O Icheke.” The lyrics to O Icheke (“Check Yourself” in Setswana) follow the hapless husband’s tragicomic pursuit of his teenaged target until his wife is told, “You’re sharing him with Shirley.”
A year later, inspired by the song, the Government of Botswana adopted “O Icheke -Break the Chain” as the name for its new national campaign to address multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships (MCP) with a multifaceted strategy and strong national leadership. The song was seen as key to achieving Botswana’s long-term goal of zero new HIV infections by 2016.
Fast-forward to 2020, the O Icheke hit maker is back with a bang thanks to a song dubbed ‘Ego’ featuring singer and producer Tshepo Lesole, and the rapper has taken social media by storm with a campaign dubbed #EgoChallenge with the mission of addressing the rampant drug abuse in Botswana and the rest of the world.
Quizzed about the inspiration behind his brand new jam, Ego, VS said, “I’m one person who believes in the law of morals. I was just driving around one day running around with my missions, and right then I knew I had to do something. Suddenly I heard a melody, this little voice coming from deep within, and I constructed the chorus. The first person who came to my mind right there was Tshepo Lesole and he agreed to jump on with a beat and hook. And this is about five years ago. As they say the rest is history. Whenever I do a song, I want to talk to the heart and soul of my people.”
VS added that the devastating usage of hard drugs in Botswana is also another reason why he curated the song in the hope it will change someone for the better.
“We are in a different era, we are raising children and they are exposed to drugs in schools, and the idea of the song is to try and help fix our society. I can’t heal the whole world but I trust that if I’m able to reach 10 people, they would reach another 10 people. It’s more of a self-awareness mission to change people’s lives for the better.”
VS was not shy to express that he knows a few people that have been victims of drugs, some closer to him.
“Drugs are not only a Botswana problem but rather a global eyesore, and the idea of the song was to try and effect a global campaign against drugs. It’s usually unnecessary to limit yourself and after the O Icheke phenomenon I’ve always known nothing is impossible. I wanted to make a song that the whole world can sing to and effect meaningful change in the process. A lot of our brothers and sisters, artists, musicians are all affected by drugs hence why I also have this initiative called #ManUp, created for men who suffer from abuse and usually find it hard to share their stories,” added VS.
VS noted that he wants to look back tomorrow and hear voices from the youth saying, “This guy spoke to us, to our brothers and our sisters. He healed 10 people, he changed lives and so forth. Music is a tool that can reach and impact more people around the world than anything else.”
VS noted that after a 10 year hiatus, he’s now prepared to come back because there is a need to do so and feel the gap.
“I have a couple of songs stored which need to be released. Yes, I’m coming back and will release an album called VS Cufflinks Code 81 soon. I’m gonna release a few singles before dropping the album. It will have a variety of songs with varying styles. The #EgoChallenge is catching fire on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. People are sending me videos just singing along. The plan is for it to reach the world. I encourage more people to send me their own videos, link up with me on email@example.com or simply drop me a DM on Instagram.”