Ben Sharpa charts specific enclaves as South African underground hip-hop figurehead-cum-electronic music practitioner. As producer, he is responsible for the dark, anti-pop leanings which marred both the Groundworx and Audio Visual’s output in conflicting shades of detuned classical music samples, clipped audio sketches, and down-tempo drum patterns. As emcee, he is always willing to speak truth to authority – a truth draped in layers of densely-populated metaphorical undertones, referencing anything/anyone from Asanda Baninzi to the late Hueman. He possesses the wit of an elder, chosen to go forth on behalf of all human beings to gather nuggets of wisdom from creatures of yonder; in his own words, he has seen “players pray with priests/ pimps in shiny, polished suits/ politicians, poor people, pack rats and prostitutes/“.
UB40 is “the biggest reggae band of all-time and the fourth most successful group in the history of the British charts.” Made ubiquitous through cover versions such as Neil Diamond’s “Red, red wine” Sonny & Cher’s “I got you babe”, the band is as much a wonder as it is a source of irritation to many. Unlike, say, Aswad or Steel Pulse, one could never take them seriously as ‘tuff-gong’ or ‘rude-boy’ youths. Their flirtations with pop saw them oftentimes at odds with reggae’s much-urgent, rude sound. Yes, they were from inner-city Birmingham. Yes, their lyrics may have been informed by Thatcher’s tight-fisted policies which led to the demise of British industry. But sometimes, the variables alone aren’t ‘spread out’ enough; the coordinates do not intersect at the right points. So the band oftentimes found itself ostracised by hardcore reggae music lovers worldwide for not being the real deal.
On the way to Hlotse, capital town of Leribe (one of Lesotho’s ten districts), one passes a place aptly-titled Crossong – a T-junction that can take one to either of three places: Northward-bound (Hlotse, Butha Buthe, Mokhotlong), Southward-bound (TY, Maseru, Mafeteng), or Westward into the heartland of Maputsoe. Infamous for its youth’s rough living, muggings, and the border post into Ficksburg, Maputsoe has of late had its image bolstered by the likes of Papa Zee and Kommanda Obbs – rap artists who, with varying degrees of success, have managed to captivate audiences thanks in part to Lesedi FM‘s wide reach. Continue reading
Ask any jazz head of their favourite jazz musician and the name Charles Mingus is very unlikely to pop up. Sure, names such as Parker, Davis, and Ellington will appear as recurring features on everyone’s list, but one will be lucky to have ‘The Angry Man of Jazz‘ featuring. Yet Mingus had a chance to play with the best of them during his lifetime; Parker, Armstrong, Ellington, Davis…these are but some of the greats with whom Charles Mingus was on an equal footing.