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Caramel & Raygunz 20 Year Reunion: Stepping Into a New Era

The Duo Caramel & Raygunz recently hosted a 20 Year Reunion Show. We take a look at their journey through the entertainment industry, their performance at the reunion event and also what the future holds for them.

If you’ve read any of my earlier show reviews, you may have noticed that I’m a sucker for nostalgia. As much as I love new things I am also still very much in love with the past.
If we’re honest, aren’t we all? Even just a little bit?
Well, this is not only a trip down memory lane but also a little sneak peek into the future.

The duo made up of Patrick Hickey (Caramel) and Raycliff Sampson (Raygunz) together and as individuals have made much more of an impact on the South African Entertainment Industry than they themselves claim credit for. Their past and current influence on the music industry is seldom publicly acknowledged. From scoring many firsts in the SA music industry to production credits on SAMA Award-winning albums, whether separately solo, or as a duo, they are also musicians of a very high caliber.
Let’s just say that your favorite artist is most likely a fan of theirs.

When I happened to scroll through my socials feed and stumbled upon this event, naturally, getting tickets wasn’t even a question. What I loved about the ticket sales was that they also had a packaged deal where you could get the ticket along with a digital copy of their album sent to you. That was a bonus for me since I didn’t manage to get the album when it came out.

When Caramel Started Making a Black Noise

Patrick Hickey started off popping in 1983 when he attended Harold Cressy High School where he met Anthony Figaji who sat behind him in class. They joined with some friends and formed the crew Electro Rock. Electro Rock were hired by Lightbody’s clothing store to breakdance outside their Golden Acre store on Saturday mornings.

Later on, Patrick and Anthony started a new group with some friends from the Heathfield and Retreat area called The Jam Rock Crew. They became one of the top crews of their time excelling at synchronized popping routines. After being a member of a few well known breakdance crews Patrick started rapping and did his first rap show in 1987 at a Harold Cressy talent show.

As his interest in music grew, he formed a group called The Chill Convention who then went on to share a stage with reggae group Sons of Selassie where he met one of their members Michael Hattingh. Hattingh made contact with Hickey and wanted to get involved in rap. He had an idea for a group called “Black Noise” He used a Korg MS-10 synthesiser which had two noise generators labelled “pink noise” and “white noise”
He wanted to create a sound that did not exist and call it “Black Noise”.

Raycliff Sampson aka Raygunz (L) and Patrick Hickey aka Caramel (L)

It fit into Hickey’s vision of blending Hip Hop with African sounds and textures, so they went ahead. Members of “The Chill Convention” joined in and they started making waves armed with Roland TR808 and TR909 drum machines. Michael Hattingh and Patrick Hickey split from Black Noise and became Caramel and Whiteboy. Their single African Flavour won the first Radio Good Hope Demo Competition in 1992 and became the first SA Rap song to get regular rotation for many years on local commercial radio.

Singer Getting Hooked on Hip Hop Culture

The next bit of information about Raygunz is straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth, talking about when he was first exposed to breaking in 1984.
Construction on the Strandfontein Pavilion was finishing, and the council was trying to promote the space.  A guy called Jerry Abrahams and his friend Shaheed Mathews were paid to bring their sound equipment to The Pavilion on a Sunday. They had no program, so they held dance and singing competitions.
Ray started out singing at the spot and later he saw the kids breakdancing.  The very next Friday night, the then TV channel, TV2 showed the “Break Machine” video and he was hooked.

The first crew he joined was Break Boy Explosion.  They warmed up outside Lightbody’s in the town centre in Mitchell’s Plain until the bigger kids would take centre stage. He saw all the greats there, from the legendary Kevin Arnoldus, best known to us heads as Jamo and Ahmad to Ice 7, Miles Miller and Bully.  This carried on until he joined Eastridge Rockers in 1988.
He was introduced to rap when one of the guys brought his brothers Run DMC album to his house and he was hooked.

FLTR Simon White (renowned tattoo artist formerly of Wildfire Tattoos), Raygunz and Jazzmo (POC) – Image: Anthea Bissolati

In 1989 He met Jerome Wilson and the late Eazy D. They started dancing together until the end of 1990 when they met Def D from the Zulu Nation. They then joined the Zulu Nation and became coordinators for 3 years. Their mission was to grow the organisation through positive activities and cultural exchanges. Ray was part of Hip Hop collectives with the late Trixx from Prophets of Da City – POC and Hamma from Brasse Vannie Kaap – BVK until he graduated high school.

The Lead-up to Becoming a Duo

In 1994 Emile YX from Black Noise asked Raygunz to join the group and change the groups profile from a pop entity.  He stayed with the group from 1994 to 2002, becoming a creative force behind the group assisting in the production of 4 studio offerings.

Ray first met Caramel in the Autumn of 94 when the group attempted to create a new sound.

Gavin Jansen (former Black Noise member) and his wife Natasha attende the Caramel & Raygunz 20th Year Reunion Show – Image: Anthea Bissolati

He then started working with Mike (Whiteboy) Hattingh, not knowing that Whiteboy and Caramel were the original founding members of Black Noise.  He recorded Rebirth with Mike and helped secure the group’s European connection through a meeting with the United Nations anniversary creative committee.


They worked with Caramel in 1999 on the second last legitimate studio offering together. Caramel and Ray realised from the start that they worked well together producing Circles of Fire. The album was released the summer of 1999 to great anticipation and fanfare.  They toured the album through Europe and the US until the winter of 2002. Ray signed on for one last studio album with the group under the Integral Music Label in Sweden. The album was called “Rotational Hi”, a well-rounded offering with sparks of wonderful creative inputs by DJ Thee Angelo.  However, he felt the group had lost its soul and decided to make his exit in 2002.

Tyrone Palmer and Brandon Petersen attended the Caramel & Raygunz 20th Year Reunion Show – Image: Anthea Bissolati

Prior to this Caramel and he worked on multiples projects together, producing some fantastic music offerings.  One such project being the “Young Africa” project, performing at an anti-racism conference in 2001.  This performance prompted a request from Harry Belafonte to meet the group.

In 2003 Caramel and Ray decided to attempt a full-length Album.  Two years and some change later they sat with the basic parts for the Caramel and Ray Guns project. The album was released in 2006.  They only ever performed the material four times according to the duo. The reunion on the 27th of April was the first time they performed a full set. They say the album was the result of seeing the pending death of the Hip Hop Culture as they knew it and they fired shots across the bow of various hip-hop groups in the hopes of building competition that could revive the culture. Sadly, they received no retorts.

The album stands as an offering still played on SA radio with Claire Phillips appropriating one of the standards from the album. According to the duo, the Caramel and Rayguns album is a labour of love with beautiful rhyme play, storytelling, a social message, and plain fun; Something Hip Hop has lost.

Claire Phillips and Patrick “Caramel” Hickey produced the album Say My Name which won the South African Music Award (Sama) in 2007 for Best R&B/Soul Album – Iamge: SAMA

The 20 Year Reunion Show

Patrick Hickey in my opinion is a musical genius and a legendary producer. He has written and produced for many artists like Claire Phillips, Jennifer Jones and Black Noise to name but a few. He seems like a fade into the background kind of guy but believe me his productions make him centre stage for sure.

Raycliff Sampson has always been one of my favourite vocalists and I always hoped he would do a solo RnB album. Folks I’m here to tell you there may just be hope yet. He seemed to enjoy being back on stage so I’m hoping the bug has bitten him big time and we get to see some new offerings from him.

The evening of Saturday the 27th of April 2024 was one  for the books. They were not expecting a large crowd and the venue of choice made that obvious. They were hoping for an intimate gathering of “old heads” and that is exactly what they got. The venue is a sweet little café on the corner of Aubrey Street and Briar Road in Salt River. It’s called the Cacti Corner Café and is run by well-known indigenous poet Maam Madamme.

The stage at the intimate venue Cacti Corner Cafe – Image: Anthea Bissolati

The audience was a mix of old school B-boys, rappers, and other artists. To name a few of the hip-hop alumni present, we had Gavin Jansen (former member of Black Noise), the legendary Jazzmo of POC fame as well as B-boys Brandon Petersen and Tyrone Palmer.

Caramel and Raygunz wowed us with their performance. I don’t think anything could have compared to the fun they had putting together the show. That was the theme of the night. Just a bunch of old school heads having some fun.
We also had the absolute honour of a bonus beatbox session from the legendary Jazzmo himself. This is something you don’t get to see that often so it was amazing to see after all these years.

Stepping into a New Era

Patrick explained that this show is the start of a regular program they plan to run. It will be their way of giving back and transferring their skills to the younger generation in the hopes that it will keep the flame of Hip Hop burning for years to come.

Anthea Bissolati & Raycliff Sampson (Raygunz) at the Caramel & Raygunz 20th Year Reunion Show – Image: Anthea Bissolati

If the reunion show was anything to go by, then we can get excited about their future endeavours indeed.

They plan to showcase fresh talent as often as possible, and they also plan to assist in nurturing fresh talent. So, if you are an artist in the market for production and advice or guidance on furthering your music career then contact these guys via

They are looking forward to working with up-and-coming artists and helping them grow.

WATCH Caramel & Raygunz Rare Performance from the Mid-2000’s

What do you think?

Written by Anthea Bissolati

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