7ad is a hip-hop/rap musician and a third-year medical student at the University of Pretoria. Thoroughly focused on and passionate about both his studies and music, he has a background in club dance music, which takes form in his current music to give it a unique melodic feel.
What does the name 17ad mean and represent to you?
All the tracks that you hear are mixed, mastered, engineered, and produced by me, 17ad. I live by the slogan of “forever young, forever remembered” so I came up with the name. It is two parts, so the 17 is a youthful number, forever youthful, it is before [stuff] gets serious and life gets in the way. AD is “after death”. It is because I really felt like this was my shot at having a legacy so even if I had to pass on people would still have these songs one day to listen. There will always be a memory of me because I am down for that [stuff], when I pass on I do not want to be forgotten. So yeah, 17ad is just about that chance at a legacy, and I strive for the whole thing of self-sufficiency in creating a legacy. I want to make everything myself. I want to be the reason that this pops off, you know, I do not want any help, if that sounds right. So yeah, just a legacy, and forever young, forever remembered.
How would you describe your music?
I would describe my music as an experience, if that makes sense. The only reason I make music is for myself. I want [music] to bump to, and I like the idea that it is me on the record, or me on the track so it is just me sharing experiences thoughts, feelings, and what I am going through in a way that is still catchy as hell, and gives you a melody that many other people cannot do. It is a melodic experience.
When and how did you get your start in music?
For my 14th birthday my dad bought a PC and I ended up getting FL Studio which is one of the softwares I use to make music, and I just explored music creation and I was really [bad] for the 1st year, like terrible. At around 15-16 I started DJing, so trying to get gigs at underage clubs or under 18 events. And then 16-17 I continued DJing, I DJed with my best friend at the time and we DJed at Tiger Tiger, we DJed at Billionaires – a club in Durban – and at big underage events, and then I kind of got over it because I obviously did not get paid, and I enjoyed the music more than the DJing if that makes sense. So at 18-19 I took a creative break because I was just making [bad] dance music, and I wanted to try find what I am about and then I ended up coming to Pretoria and I kind of developed in that first year at university and I found the music I want to create, the feelings I wanted to share, and so that is why I formed 17ad. It is just about trying to push out quality and share experiences that I go through that I know people will relate to, so it has been quite a few years.
Which 3 of your existing songs would you recommend to a new listener?
“Last Time”, “Feel That Too’ and “Love the Attention”.
Who are your biggest influences musically?
Definitely XXXTENTACION, rest in peace. He was probably one of the main reasons I even started making music for myself. I would say Russ, [he has a] big impact on telling stories, he is a great storyteller. Frank Ocean, and I also draw inspiration from weird things like Otis Redding, I was listening to “Sitting On The Docks’’ and I came up with an idea. It is all about the feeling within the song.
Could you elborate on your experience collaborating with Hendrik Joerges and how it came to be.
Hendrik is the best producer in South Africa, and he has become a close friend of mine. He was a DJ at 2, and I will not lie, I idolised the man when I was DJing so I always wanted to meet him and so I would always support him when he was dropping his new tracks or [when] he had a gig I would go see him. So eventually, I was trying to make music and then I sent him [music] and he would give me criticism, and eventually, one day he posted something on his IG story, like a snippet of “Stressed” or just the template and then I was like “I have a hook” so then I was like “step aside, let the real ones work” and then from there it jump-started us into collaborating so we got together. “Stressed” got done in a day’s time, in under 8 hours, and now it has been picked up by Trap Nation and edm.com and gotten 300 000 streams on Spotify which is a massive achievement for us. To be honest, he is one of the only people I can really work with musically because he kind of understands my direction with my music so it is crazy. And we have just released “What She Said”, and we have so many more projects on the way.
Would you describe Hendrik Joerges, and anyone else, as a mentor or advisor?
Yeah, definitely. The biggest downside about artistry in general is that I often feel very isolated in my room making beats and he is often the getaway to evolving. [Hendrik] is probably one of the only few that I send stuff I am working on to get critique. It is a pretty lonely game, I will not lie. I am by myself, but I believe that it is meant to be that way. So yeah, he is a mentor, and he is the one I go to. And also, a notable mention is my brother. I often phone him to ask him “is the message of the song right”, “am I being authentic”, “am I being who I can be” because he knows me best.
Who else would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Locally, I would be keen to make [music] with obviously, Nasty C, and A Reece. They have 2 different lanes that you could go. There is a girl, her name is, I think, Hanna/therealnigis. I [like] her flow and her vibe. Internationally, I would say Russ, and Octavian, he is a British rapper from Essex.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I would like to see myself as a qualified doctor, and also have this thing going, like a side hustle. I would like to be an artist that is recognised in SA. I am not really down for performing, I just want to release good music.
Do you have any exciting projects or plans we should look out for in the near future?
Yeah, I am trying to produce now at home, and it is kind of hard. I have had to make a homemade studio; recording is not that great but I am going to try releasing weekly songs. I released a song this week, I am going to drop one next week sometime, and eventually, work towards an EP/album when I have enough of a following. Right now, it is just [about] releasing quality music, and getting my name out there, but I am not really trying to prove anything which also helps me stay true to myself. So yeah, a lot more from 17ad this year, and the years to come.