Gabriel Rasenyai and his many monikers Quaint, The Faceless Artist, Savvy Savage, Mr Spirit Strength passed on Wednesday 9 May, and was buried Saturday 19th May. The news which came in the morning of Ascension Day holiday was met with disbelief and shock throughout the Hip Hop, Arts and Tech community.
The rare winter rain that fell across the south of the country a week ago is analogous to memorials. To write about Quaint in the past tense is in a way an erasure of his spirit in the present, relegating him to an afterthought, a memory. Having been in the rap game since 2001, he appeared on a couple mixtapes including The Sample 1 & The Sample 2 back in 2005. Undisputedly an underground MC, he drew much from the master lyricism of South African emcees ‘Robo The Technician’ and ‘Hymphatic Thabs’, and his ultimate love for poetry. His deep lyrics and killer freestyles birthed a necessary movement in Botswana, Warzone, which he co-founded. His essence reigned in most creative circles, which he gave his time and talents to. “Quaint was a sensei; a master at battles and encouragement,” said a fellow artists. Quaint’s moniker was also popular in South Africa’s battle scene, having won a couple of battles at Scramble4Money. His songs
“…I am wearing Jesus’ cloak, and within it, I am healing the children…”
The question ‘what is the measure of a man?’ comes up a lot when someone passes. There are two trajectories that follow a death. Firstly there is the gravity of loss that supersedes all subjectivity and objectivity of the person’s life, leading us to sanitise their personality and what they meant to people. A season veteran in his own right, Quaint enjoyed the respect of his peers but was not one to bask in his glory as one who knows him got a sense that he was always preparing and cultivating Botswana’s Hip Hop scene and sowing seeds for a future that was much more palatable for full time artists, as well as the general public and stately in comparison to other nations. In this endeavour he sacrificed money, time and his own well-being.
For artists time is a cruel master, it gives us a short period to effect a change but more often than not doesn’t let us see the fruits of our labour. The emotional labour that comes with creativity creates a dent on the creator’s ability to see the greater picture. In the case of highly gifted ones such as Quaint, their emotional spectrum is heavily polarized between two extremes, swinging like a pendulum in hyper-speed. The effect is that they are a highly perforated sponge open to all the energies and this makes them erratic, volatile and sometimes desensitised from effect of their actions in the long term.
A scroll through his Facebook which is where most of our thoughts will be immortalized, reveals a man who was both stern in his reprimand of contemporary culture, a husband, doting father to two children, meticulous in interrogating his surroundings even when he seemed far ahead of others in conversation. As we celebrate his light, we must take stock of the darkness in order to give an honest picture of one’s life. It is said life happens in the grey areas; the contradictions, the vices and bad habits and how they are dealt with is where the true story and measure of a man lies. For the family we save these unpleasantries.
In this painful time for family, friends and the Hip Hop Community who are in disbelief, we leave you with a light moment from Quaint.
Messages From The Hip Hop Community
“Rest In Peace my brother. I will always cherish our debates and talks about the Life and The Game. BW Hiphop has lost one of the Kings man. Sleep Well kin.” – Chub Heightz
“This is just heartbreaking! BW HipHop’s battle scene lost a leader and organiser of note! Condolences to his family and close friends” – Zeus
“Rest in peace my brother Spirit Strength the Savvy Savage Gabriel Quaint Rasenyai. I remember me and Letlhogonolo Tlhowe calling you at the border before we went to battle in Joburg because we knew you had been there done that and we were only continuing a legacy you created. I am forever indebted to you for changing my life and being a true friend. We will keep your memory alive. R.I.P my brother” – Blain
“Rest in Power to Quaint the Faceless artist I’m still in shock, condolences to his family BW hip hop will always honour you” – Apollo D
In a statement released a day after the news broke, The Warzone and Arts Alumni made a pledge to support the artist’s family in this difficult time as Gabriel was “an active member in the growth of the league since long before its inception to the final weeks of his life.” The organisation has asked anyone wishing to make contribution to the family to kindly do so to the account below with the reference “FACELESS.”