At 21 years old, Kyle Shepherd burst into the South African jazz conscience without prior warning. Following in the footsteps of heavyweights such as Marcus Wyatt, Andile Yenana, and Zim Ngqawana (whom he would collaborate with in future), Shepherd demonstrably proved that he is a presence worthy of reckoning. A couple of years down the line, coupled with culturally-fulfilling work and collaborative social exploits with the likes of filmmaker Dylan Valley (Afrikaaps), as well as Aryan Kaganof and the late Zim Ngqawana on “Exhibition of Vandalism”, we sat down to discuss identity, journeying through sound, culture, and survival in contemporary South African society. Continue reading
When I was coming up in Maseru Lesotho during 2001, I had no idea that ten years down the line I would be writing about an album that for months on end I struggled to even get a hold of a cassette version of. Even at the height of Napster (and the subsequent rise in illegal music downloads), Internet penetration was still fairly sparse. The implications were varied: I could not get anyone I knew elsewhere to upload the album; neither could I download it legally from any on-line store.
Focus then shifts to the artists on Pioneer Unit’s roster. All but one – Manqoba – had a firm following in Cape Town hip-hop before coming on board the label. Through time, Dplanet developed a vibe with artists whom he felt could contribute positively to the overall vision of the label. He tells me of how he and Ben Sharpa’s shared love for electronic music eventually led to them collaborating on various musical projects. Continue reading
I meet with the subject of my interview by the roadside during a particularly subdued lunch hour in Cape Town’s CBD. On the other side of the road is what seems to have been a block of offices, now decrepit and torn down. All that remains of it is rubble – no form, just abstract pieces of concrete which fail to provide the slightest clue of what once used to belong to someone. Continue reading
I cannot recall exactly when it was that I became exposed to the music of Sakumzi Qumana, the Mdantsane, Eastern Cape-born vocalist/producer better known by his on-stage persona, Johnny Cradle. It could have been at a park jam in Gugs following the 2008 xenophobic attacks, or alongside Pravda 23, Eavesdrop, and Fungus the Mutated Lung in Observatory, Cape Town, at a weekly gathering known as TPDK Circuitry.
Their stage act resembles an inside joke; they play tricks on the audience, a wry sense of humour underlying the whole scenario. The guitarist will sommer play a lick off of a well-known song of theirs (‘76’ and ‘People of the light‘ come to mind) before bouncing right back into material from their most recent offering – Pick a Dream. The tightness of this four-man troupe pokes fun in the face of criticism, and casts all doubts of how capable they are of delivering good music aside.
My interview with Ill Skillz was supposed to be a cosy affair, devoid of adjunct implements such as cheap microphones and below-average computer cameras. Due to artistic obligations on their part, a change of plan was in order; we had to do the ‘on-line thing’ Skype all over the Internet. I had known about their trip to lands far away a month prior to the fact; its immediacy was only brought to my attention during the brief exchange of words I had with one-third of the whole: ‘We are leaving tomorrow morning fam‘, declared Uno, the rather petite-sized emcee who can also pass as the group’s official spokesman.