TIA declare: We're here to stay

This Iz Afrika (TIA) probably the biggest Hip-hop group in Botswana at present have expanded their boundaries to Namibia, coming up with a new group named II Phresh.

The group, well known for their hit track, We here have established roots in Namibia through chief executive officer, Ryan Blaze, who is studying at the Namibian Polytechnic in Windhoek.

At the moment, II Phresh have released nine new fresh tracks, which are meant to promote the Namibian group.Blaze said they intend to compile 12 tracks for the promo, which is expected to also reach Botswana revellers.  "The aim is to grow both teams on both sides of the border," he said.

Blaze said their mission when starting TIA was to reach out to all African states. "Our name suggests that we are representing Africa and in the beginning our mission was not only to go local, but to spread our material across African borders and invade the foreign audience and market," he said.

He said that TIA is a combination of three groups - Dream Team and G.A Street from Botswana and the recently formulated II Phresh. TIA now has 11 members, including three new members from II Phresh. "These new members are not Namibian but are all from Zimbabwe," said Blaze. He said, however, they have featured some of Namibia's top artists like J.T, M-Dwayne and M.C Ray. He said they are also currently organising collaboration with Namibia's best Hip-hop Sanlam Awards winner, D-Jay.

II Phresh recorded their promo tracks at a Namibian studio called Infinity Records, one of the country's renowned hip-hop studios. Blaze said their recording contract with the studio is closed, as the promo is complete. "We will continue to work with them in the future but at the same time exploring other studios for improved and better production," he said.

Blaze said the reception of TIA in Namibia has thus far been great. He said that unlike in Botswana, hip-hop in Namibia is highly regarded. Blaze said there are a lot of good artists in Botswana but the problem is the support for the genre by fans. "The vibe for hip-hop grows on a constant in Namibia and you're likely to make it as a hip-hop artist here rather than a Kwaito artist," he said.

Blaze said TIA fans should expect an album soon as discussions to release their second album are ongoing. He said the album would feature both TIA Namibia and TIA Botswana artists. "The recording will be done in Botswana at Heaven Sent Productions, which is currently trying to sign TIA Botswana," he said. In future though, TIA Namibia will work on separate albums as it has been with mix tapes and promo projects.

TIA have established themselves as hip-hop giants as no other hip-hop group in Botswana has achieved. Among their achievements, TIA have collaborated with local clothing brand, Galanga, which endorses TIA both in Namibia and in Botswana.

"The signing of the endorsement deal means we promote the brand both musically, that's on stage or during interviews, as well as socially," he said.

TIA have also been able to establish deep roots in social networking sites such as Facebook. TIA have a page where fans are updated on TIA activities, and keeping everyone on board about their whereabouts.

TIA are among the first groups to distribute their music free via Internet to their fans. TIA promo and mixtape tracks are distributed for free and can be downloaded from reverbnation.com. There are reports that the group might expand to come up with TIA South Africa so fans should be on the lookout.

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