The #IAMNEXT hip-hop competition called for Russian Bear Premium Vodka fans to submit fiery and attention-grabbing one-liners about reaching the next level, captured in 150 characters. Finalists were selected, and an online video series featuring the top three wordsmiths performing their lyrics was released on Russian Bear’s social channels. The fans then spoke through their votes and crowned Sicelo “JRetta” Ngozwana, an aspiring rapper from Port Elizabeth, as the #IAMNEXT king. His likeness and lyrics will be immortalised on his very own personal Russian Bear bottle, an idea inspired by the Limited Edition Russian Bear x Riky Rick bottle design.
We got in touch with the #IAMNEXT king about all things that lead him to his throne.
I realised music was something I really wanted to do and pursue, when it became my main escape from reality. When I find myself lost in the process of writing a song, it’s the only time I feel alive and free. I wrote a couple of songs then recorded them and after releasing them, people were satisfied and urged me to pursue music as a career. As it turns out, I listened. I finally found something I’m passionate about, that I enjoy doing and as it turns out, I’m actually really great at.
I believe that every single living creature on this planet, human beings in particular – have a purpose. God gives you a gift, and you are responsible for it. I understood that my purpose on this Earth is to be a storyteller and whether that is through mediums such as music or writing books or making films, it’s all up to me. God gave me this gift and as soon as I discovered what it was, and that I could really be great I made the decision to follow God’s plan and chase this dream.
Top 5, Dead or alive
The one thing that all my influences have in common, is that they’re fearless. Fearlessness brings about freedom. The freedom to be yourself, and the freedom to express yourself. The likes of Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, J. Cole, Anderson.Paak, Ab-Soul, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, AKA and so on. People who are always breaking boundaries with their music. Finding new sounds and taking risks. My top 5, dead or alive, in no particular order:
When inspiration runs dry, I usually take a break from it all, and try to experience the world. I listen to a lot of my favourite music, read books, watch movies, spend some time with friends or family and usually by the time I get back to the studio my appetite is back. In all honesty, I get most of my inspiration from people. Their stories, energies, and the connections formed. So being around positive people with good hearts and sharp minds usually does the trick. So essentially I am inspired by people and the world they inhabit.
The message I would like to spread to the masses using my music or a couple of messages rather, is a positive uplifting one and most importantly, an honest one. I do that by using my story. My experiences, the connections I have made, the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons learned. I am a dreamer and through my music, I want to inspire and motivate other dreamers and those who are afraid of taking the risk of pursuing their dreams. I want to bring hope, spread love, happiness and positive energy. Everything the world lacks. I just want people to relate and connect to something real. And nothing is more real than the truth.
Russian Bear #IAmNext competition
I came across the Russian Bear #IamNEXT competition through a close friend of mine, Reatile Ntsane. He came across the competition on Facebook and shared the link of the post to me. I entered the link, and spent time reading and trying to understand exactly what the campaign was about and what was required of me. After reading and understanding, I sat down and wrote a 16 bar verse for the campaign. I submitted the lyrics and well the rest is history.
The competition’s impact on your career
How I believe winning the #IamNEXT competition will assist me in my music career begins with the simple understanding that all experiences whether good or bad are accompanied by important lessons. From the moment I wrote the verse that earned me this win to the two days I spent with the Russian Bear crew (7Films) in Port Elizabeth, checking locations, shooting as early as 05:00, going home very late and also constantly being involved in the whole process; I have learned that I am capable of so much more than I think I am. It helped me understand my capabilities and also that if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything. Also, winning the competition helped get me more exposure and what it also did for me was encourage me, motivate me to go further, to keep working hard and to keep dreaming.
Favourite flavour and mix?
Russian Bear Passion Fruit, and I love mixing it with ice cold 100% orange juice.
Words to live by?
“Be the miracle.”