“Over the course of five days, Redbull decked out the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein with nifty music-making gear and then hand-picked some of Mzansi’s most forward-thinking musicians to come and play with it.“
That’s how my article about the Johannesburg leg of Redbull’s Basscamp (for Mahala) started. It was through them that I got to be a part of a hugely-rewarding experience. Having already made acquaintances with some of the participants, and being familiar with the music of others, helped. I was able to gain access into the creative headspaces of some very gifted musicians. I kept my camera rolling most of the time and this is what I’ve managed to compile for now – a ten-minute conversation with Hlasko, OX++, Sol from BFG, and Fever Trails. All the artists offer insightful commentary into the possible directions of electronic music in South Africa. About the title? I really wanted to call this thing Fuck Your Scene, but I figured that it wouldn’t be easy explaining that decision to my parents. The End!
PS. It’s really important that I thank Nick Van Reenen (Fever Trails/Bateleur) without whom the audio for this project would be compromised. Thank you homie, much appreciated! Check out his website.
Naming songs after public figures may seem to be the new wave, but a momentary look into rap music’s past will reveal a subculture-worthy trend for hip-hop culture’s tendency to remix – and hence reconfigure and raise awareness about – people in the public sphere by invoking their names, from Outkast’s ‘Rosa Parks‘, to, most recently, A$ap Ferg’s trap-leaning homage to Shabba Ranks.
This resurgence hasn’t left South Africa behind. After going head-to-head with L-Tido on last year’s ‘Julius Malema‘, Cassper Nyovest has, after multiple delays, unleashed ‘Doc Shebeleza‘, a high-powered musical dap to the South African kwaito music artist. Cassper’s is hungry for more, and makes a convincing argument throughout the song. He’s fighting for something bigger than him. He twitches with hunger pangs as he switches between a gang of flows, at times sounding like a cross between Lection and iFani’s long-lost Tswana twin. He even quotes Doc Shebeleza’s ‘Gets getsa‘ at the very beginning of the song, riffing “tlogela ngwan’o, mo tlogele” (meaning: leave that girl alone). Continue reading
(Left to Right: J.Cob, Shuffle, T-Mech)
Lesotho hip-hop has found a worthy contender for its first critic. Disser Disser, an elusive facebook character of whom I’ve just learnt about this morning, is a straight-talking, no-holds-barred, keyboard-savvy observer who’s taken full advantage of the web’s ubiquity (and relative anonymity) to, for example, respond to rappers’ invitations to their recording sessions with the statement “no,u should learn shit urself…tell me hore na o bina mmino ofeng (first tell me what type of music you sing)”. If cultivated, this brand of rap criticism could very well be the impetus needed to drive Lesotho hip-hop fully into public dialogue.
Facebook states that Disser Disser joined it on December 7, 2013. In little over a month, this character has managed to offend a couple of rappers, most notably Shuffle, who’s hurled incredible expletives in the said character’s direction. Two things are going to happen: either the hip-hop community in Lesotho allows Disser Disser the space to exist, to grow, and to flourish by encouraging the apparent attempt at engagement; or Disser Disser becomes a thorny subject among the very community he’s addressing. Currently, the latter seems to be the case. Either way, Disser Disser is quickly becoming a point of discussion in Lesotho’s hip-hop scene, and shall continue to be for the next three months at least.
*Disser Disser on facebook
*Listen to Shuffle’s diss song to Dunamis’ KOL crew here
Lesotho’s rap scene is undergoing immense growth at the moment. The level of interest from the general public is at the highest it’s ever been, a prospect which has attracted some form of investment from the corporate sector. While emcees have always been releasing music, it’s only been in the past two years that a following has begun to crystallize. A variety of factors can be pointed out. Cellphone giant Vodacom’s Lesotho set-up has the widest reach in the country; their Vodacom Superstars talent competition helped, in many ways, to make rap artists more visible. Rappers now adorn billboards and get paid decent money to perform.
The hip-hop charts hosted by Dallas T on the local radio station Ultimate FM have also had a hand in gauging public interaction, and the national television has also played a role by encouraging musicians to submit their videos for playlisting. For instance, one was guaranteed to see Kommanda Obbs‘ “Ts’epe” video twice on any given day throughout 2012. It will be interesting to observe what happens going forward. Litaleng, a performance venue which became a gathering spot of sorts during hip-hop shows, closed down recently. Are we going to see other initiatives step to the fore to offer a better live experience? Clearly there is an audience. Continue reading
Siya and Raytheon
I remember the first words I spoke to members of The Brother Moves On. It was at Rocking the Daisies in 2011; my then-partner and myself were taking a stroll between the camping and performance areas when we happened upon Siya (vocals) and Raytheon (guitar). We’d been impressed by their Saturday mid-morning performance at the main stage and wondered where their music could be obtained. It was before any of the work available on their bandcamp - The Golden Wake, ETA, and A New Myth - was released. Their myspace page had a few songs.
“Sometime early next year” one of them said. Continue reading
Uberman: Nabil, Arif, & Malik
I got to spend a day recently with some brothers who refer to themselves as Uberman, a fashion-conscious trio based in Pretoria. Besides shooting stills, I got to film some shots which then got edited down into short visual things. This one features music by bassist Herbie Tsoaeli.
Filtered synth pads and muffled percussion set the mood for Perfecto’s dark-humoured narrative about being disliked for touching someone’s girl. He skillfully weaves a tale of worldly desires, adding detailed bits of lust, (dis)trust, and insecurity as he glides along. In Perfecto’s case, size does matter; size goes beyond the confines of lustful tales. Size morphs and becomes time – time spent perfecting his craft. Continue reading