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Farewell Mr Fat

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Farewell Mr Fat

by Nurene Jassiem
05 Dec 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

"This was a ride that was worth the ticket." Those were the words of the late Ashley Titus, better known to the world at Mr Fat.


Taken from his page on MySpace.com, where he often shared some of his thoughts with his fans and friends, the quote seemed only apt for a man whose life was as rich in experience as his.

As the nation mourns the death of the 36-year-old rap artist, who died last week Wednesday, People's Post takes a look back and remembers the much loved Mr Fat.

Born and bred in Bonteheuwel on the Cape Flats in 1971, Ashley rose to fame with Cape Town based hip hop group, Brasse Vannie Kaap, alongside Ready D.

But it was long before that, as a teenager, that Ashley's path as an MC and rap artist began to form.

Born into a pre-Apartheid era, it was only natural that at this time he, like many others, tried to find a voice amid the madness.

His thoughts, poetically expressed on his MySpace page, say, "Being young and born with a will to seek, it seemed that somehow I was gonna walk in the path of being a freedom fighter.

"Hip hop had this voice that my people were looking for that said, say what you want to say. Faces of identity looked like me and this gave me enough reason to be part of it.

"Elements of this art form were MC, B-boy, DJ, writing and knowledge of self. A journey took me to the element MC, and this is the beginning of my story."

Ashley founded what he describes as "a rebel hip hop group", calling themselves the Yo-boys. But his real love for the mic came later when he joined a group called JAM-B, which stood for Just Another Miracle from Bonteheuwel. By looking back at his roots and drawing influence from life on the Cape Flats, Ashley found that his lyrics were filled with more meaning and substance and the people began to take note.

JAM-B were twice crowned as Best Rap Group in the Western Cape.

A successful solo career career followed, seeing him perform with the likes of Papa Wemba, Prophets of da City, Jimmy Dludlu and Koos Kombuis to name but a few, as well as participate in events such as the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) and the Rapping for Democracy National Tour. The tour was aimed at going to various learning institutions and to teach the masses how to vote - an objective that was crucial in the build-up to South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

During this time, Ashley became friends with Ready D, who he teamed up with in 1996 to form Brasse Vannie Kaap (BVK).

While at the time most hip hop artists performed mostly in English, Ashley and BVK brought about a shift by introducing Afrikaans into the hip hop culture.

Aside from the musical appeal, which stretched far and wide, BVK also become well-known for their community involvement and for focusing on issues on the Cape Flats.

Much of this focus saw them working with the youth, including being involved in extensive workshops in the juvenile section at various prisons around the Cape.

Earlier this year BVK released their fourth album and, according to sources, Ashley had started working on his solo album - a task he was unfortunately unable to finish.

Mr Fat's last performance was with Red Fox events agency at the Whale Festival in Hermanus in September.

According to Red Fox's newsletter, Mr Fat was already sick, but braved the stage with the help of a cane. Ashley touched the lives of many worldwide.

There is a Facebook group dedicated to him, as a place where fans and friends can express their sentiments and say their goodbyes.

One such friend and fan, Cindy de Villiers, wrote this of Ashley:

My bra, jy's miskien nie hier nie, But your light shines for us all, Your life was a great gift, a hero standing tall.You were a servant and a leader, Hip Hop lover, fighter, friend...  Let us all remember, this November, tomorrow and forever, That true greatness never ends. Let his life's passion be an inspiration, Strive to use our lives, and let our lights shine. Influence in a good way, till the end of our time, today, this minute - don't wait till tomorrow. Rest in peace bra Fat, you made a difference.

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