24th Apr2017

Freedom in All of its Colours

by admin

Black Culture in the UK

Hi everyone,

This week our talented team have written articles that, coincidentally, address all of the complexities within contemporary black culture. Sandiswa Sondzaba shares her excitement over the fashion industry’s recent embracing of past and contemporary black subcultures. Kendrick Lamar has proven to be one of this generation’s most talented artists. Azola Jokweni discusses why he believes that Kendrick Lamar is the greatest rapper of his generation. Molebogeng Mokoka explains why our condemnation of Khanyi Mbau over her decision to lighten her skin complexion is highly problematic. Finally, Jabulile Mbatha critiques King Mswati III’s desire to ban divorce in Swaziland. Our talented writers have illustrated the complex issues that currently come with black culture- in all of its various forms. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading these thought-provoking articles.

Have a wonderful week of freedom,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

24th Apr2017

All Hail Kendrick

by admin

DAMN

Born and raised in Compton, California, Kendrick Lamar has made more than just a mark in the rap music scene. His is a long-lasting legacy. After releasing his debut studio album Section 80, his music started gaining more exposure, giving him a broader fan base worldwide. I can best describe his music as thought provoking and more poetic, compared to the other clichéd ‘girls and money’ rappers. To hail him King, is another debate every rap fan has an opinion on. My definition for King is simple; it consists of the acronym ‘RAP’ which Rhythm and Poetry.

Poetry is art, a platform of expression, a voice for the voiceless, an artist’s view of the socio-economic issues, politics and issues influencing the self. Listening to Kendrick’s music, you realise that his music touches on those very basic elements of poetry. In this era we live in, not many artists can be dubbed as influential and motivational when a lot of them talk about having sex with different girls and how much money they spend in night clubs; repeating the same thing over and over again. It seems like rhyming and coming up with a cool hook qualifies you to be a rapper without deeper consideration about your lyrics, the meaning behind your lyrics, the message conveyed and the influence it has on the audience. In my opinion, only a select few can bring realism into their craft. From a rap fan’s perspective, Kendrick Lamar achieves that realism; that makes Kendrick stand alone, and without much competition to deal with. This is not to say he is either a god or some deity of rap. However, with no one matching his calibre, he can be dubbed the king of rap.

One might look at it from a different perspective. We cannot deny that over the years, the hip hop industry has evolved and become broader; we are no longer stuck on that old boom bap sound. We are now in what one can call this new movement the ‘trap era’. We have seen artists fuse the hip hop sound with other music genres, creating new unique sounds coming from the likes of Future, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert to name a few. Most importantly, and the reception from the audience to this new sound has been positive. For someone to stay with that poetic element in his music, and still be able to reach the people, that’s something else.

Looking at how Kendrick uses poetic devices in his music, and for you to get the message you first have to decode or analyse his verses, that has made people more active and participatory instead of just listening to the same thing from different people with no need to apply your mind. With some controversy over his lyrics now and then, people don’t just listen to his music to lip sync, but to understand the message and motive of the song. We’ve seen his music touch on trending issues like racism, politics, feminism and self-love, and the responses that have followed from his audience. That is what an artist is supposed to do: keep the people talking and engaging in societal issues. All hail King Kendrick.

24th Apr2017

Fashionable Diversity

by admin

All-Black

2017 has been a significant year for diversity in the fashion industry. In February, we had Marc Jacobs debut a collection that was explicitly inspired by hip-hop http://observer.com/2017/02/this-season-marc-jacobs-was-inspired-by-the-history-of-hip-hop/). Jacobs explained that his collection was inspired by the four-part documentary Hip-Hop Evolution which covers the hip-hop industry from the 70s to the 90s and features luminaries like Grandmaster Flash. In his show notes, Jacobs explains that, the “collection is my representation of the well-studied dressing up of casual sportswear. It is an acknowledgement and gesture of my respect for the polish and consideration applied to fashion from a generation that will forever be the foundation of youth culture street style”.

Gucci has seemingly followed in Jacobs’ lead through their pre-fall campaign that features an all-black model cast. The campaign is a tribute to Northern Soul which is different to the sci-fi vibe of the house’s Autumn/Winter 2017 show. The images were inspired by last year’s Made You Look exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery. The exhibition was highly influential, exploring black masculinity and Dandyism (a counterculture that has also inspired the visuals in Solange Knowles’ Losing You music video). The campaign was further inspired by Malick Sidibe, the iconic 1960s photographer renowned for his black and white studio portraits, and Northern Soul. Northern Soul was a 1960s movement inspired by black American soul music that made clubs like the Wigan Casino famous. The campaign features both dancers and models, showing the splits and backdrops associated with the subculture’s dance style.

Titled ‘Soul Scene’, the Glen Luchford-shot campaign features only people of colour. This is significant considering that the industry has increasingly come under fire for the lack of diversity on runways and advertising campaigns. Runways, particularly, have been criticised for the lack of diverse castings. The most recent incident revolved around the agent James Scully, who took to Instagram to criticise the whitewashed Parisian catwalks and the mistreatment of models at a Balenciaga casting.

Although these are only two campaigns, they demonstrate that fashion is moving in the right direction. Coupled with the historic appointment of Edward Enninful as the new editor of British Vogue, the fashion industry is beginning to embrace diversity. Although some may say that these are just examples of how the fashion industry is embracing tokenism, I would like to argue that this is not the case. We are currently witnessing a black man take the helm at one of the industry’s most influential publications. As written in my previous article, Enninful is serious about increasing diversity within the industry. People like Enninful understand that the diversity-problem is serious as diverse representations are what will make the fashion industry’s influence more sustainable. I believe this we have not seen the last of these campaigns celebrating diversity.

Gucci Campaign

10th Apr2017

Disruption Ahead

by admin

Pins

Hi everyone,

I trust that you have all had a restful break. This week our talented group of writers have given us great pieces to read and (perhaps) mull over. Last week proved to be a crazy one for South Africa; with that in mind, Stephanie Schaffrath’s challenges us to appreciate the small blessings we are afforded in our daily lives. Lilitha Mankuntsu reflects on the recent SA Fashion Week (now in its 20th year) and she hopes that SAFW is onto bigger and better things. Charissa Govender gives us a sneak peak into the IPL and the exciting cricket the current season promises us. Zinhle Maeko (in disagreement with Tsholanang Rapoo’s view) argues that Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma’s feud is not exempt from feminist critique.  Naledi Khumalo writes a piece that aims to motivate womxn facing significant challenges. Thabisile Miya reflects on the feelings of vulnerability that accompanied her visit to a gender neutral bathroom. Finally, Veli Mnisi critiques mainstream hip-hop’s hyper-masculine whilst finding solace in artists such as Frank Ocean and Gyre who are quietly dismantling hip-hop’s homophobia and misogyny.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter break.

Enjoy,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

10th Apr2017

Seeing the Remy Ma/Nicki Minaj Feud through a Feminist Gaze

by admin

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On February 26 Remy Ma released the diss track, Sh-Ether,  which was targeted at Nicki Minaj. The seven minute song is based on the rhythm of  Ether, Nas’s diss track about Jay-Z . With the release of Sh-Ether, Remy officially announced the beef between herself and Nicki Minaj. Long before Remy and Nicki positioned themselves as each other’s rivals, there was  Lil Kim vs Foxy Brown, Queen Latifah vs Foxy Brown and Trina vs Khia. Fortunately for us, these battles existed before the days of Instagram and Twitter. When a beef has reminents of internalised misogyny, slut shaming, and body shaming, someone has to say something. This is particularly the case given that the participants have a combined Instagram following of 81.1 million .

The first shot Remy threw at Nicki (in Sh-Ether) was about her alleged plastic surgeries and her body. In my opinion, this was Remy Ma’s first wrong move. Not only is body shaming simply not cool; it also perpetuates the idea that women should only be valued based on their physical appearance. Remy then slut shames Nicki by listing all the men Nicki had allegedly slept with, who include Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Trey Songz. This is a weak attempt at devaluing Nicki and promotes stigma against women who do not conform to normative ideas around female sexual behaviour. Nicki is no saint either; she also threw in lines regarding Remy’s body and alleged plastic surgery in No Frauds, her response to Sh-Ether which features Lil Wayne and Drake . No Frauds is just as problematic with Nicki referring to Remy as “Sheneneh” (a character from the 90s sitcom Martin). This term has been used as a slur to ridicule dark-skinned women in the African American community.

Competition is healthy and women certainly do not have to all get along under the name of feminism. My question is when two black females with so much influence involve themselves in such a vicious battle; should it then be viewed as any other beef? Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma have not positioned themselves as either role models for black women or the ambassadors of black feminism. However, that does not mean their work and actions are exempt from feminist critique.

20th Mar2017

Chicken or Beef: Nicki and Remy

by admin

Does my womanhood take away my right not to like you?

Remy Ma Nicki Minaj

Following the flurry of commentary around this beef and how Remy was wrong for ‘slut shaming’ Nicki Minaj and vice versa, I am left with one question: Does the fact that I am a feminist strip me of my right not to like you because you are also a black woman? Yes, we are all women and yes, we need to uplift each other and reconstruct the patriarchy thrusted upon us. However, some things should be taken at face value. Nicki and Remy, have got nothing to do with me and my struggles as a black woman.

Remy’s personal and professional views on Nicki Minaj have nothing to do with women in general. The idea that all feminists, or all women for that matter, ought to get along is one that I find highly ironic considering that all of us know people, men and women, we don’t like. We might share the same values but if I don’t like your behaviour and I feel like you need to get checked, why not? This is hip hop; tracks and whatever is said on them ought to be viewed in that context. The patriarchy that we are trying to prevent is the patriarchy that you are perpetuating by not allowing these women to openly challenge, and destroy their direct line of competition. The release of ShEther, is a play on one of the most famous beefs in hip hop- between the New York giants, Nas and Jay-Z who later settled their difference after many fights, war of words, and the release of Ether by Nas. It is with this in mind, I feel people should listen to Nicki and Remy, the battle between two New York giants, going at it. In my opinion, their gender has no bearing in their lyricism. It is fun and it is what hip hop is all about.

I know some might be thinking that if this is a pure hip hop battle, why post it on social media, and why the release of intimate information by both parties.  Well in response to that I say that all is fair in Love and Hip Hop. It is a battle and it is not going to be pretty, something must get beaten, besides their make-up. Dirt was dug and mud was slung from both sides, some more than others, but that is the nature of the game. Only the best will survive: it is eat or be eaten, killed or be Nicki’d. For every punch that was thrown in ShEther, there was a comeback in No Frauds. Where Remy referred to Nicki’s surgery, Nicki did the same. When Remy came for Nicki’s brother, Nicki came for Remy’s children. It was blow for blow, grimy and ruthless on both sides and this brings me to my point; Remy does not like Nicki, Nicki doesn’t care, and the audience is entertained.

This is all that there is to it. To assume that empowering females in all spaces relinquishes my right not to like you is not only patriarchal but it’s a bit naive. As feminists, we are not in the position to judge every situation based on gender under the assumption that all females who believe in a free, equal and non-sexist world need to love and support each other at all times. It is in cases like these where I think that we should truly consider what feminism means not only as a movement but for all women; Black, White, Asian, Indian, Mexican, Latin, and all other shades of womanhood. If these two rappers weren’t female, would there be so much fuss about what was said and how they said it, and would we even be discussing how objectified and disrespected the females in their lives must be feeling. Equality and justice are not the same things and as feminists we need to ask ourselves as to whether we are fighting for equality or Justice? These are all important questions that we need to address however, in a hip hop battle, I find it more helpful to ask: Who won? Who came out on top? In this case, who was the better rapper?

 

13th Mar2017

Why Every Young Kid in South Africa Needs to Listen to Okmalumkoolkat’s ‘Mlazi Milano’

by admin

Okmalumkoolkat

Okmalumkoolkat is one of South Africa’s talented artists who is not only a rapper but is also a dancer, fashion influencer and all round creative genius. One look at his Braam-kid-ville aesthetic will give you a sense of what I mean. There is a futuristic element about him and that is present within his sound that has influenced a lot of South African hip-hop artists. Mlazi Milano is a 17-track album featuring the likes of award winning Ricky rick and member of Boyz N Bucks; Mashayabuqe Ka Mamba; Mr. Digital Maskandi; the highly acclaimed the Brother Moves On; as well as young and upcoming musos like Shomadjozi, Reba Red and Amadando . The reason why every young kid needs to listen to this album is because it is pro-South African, it both celebrates and aims to promote our multilingual, diverse and culturally rich nature in a manner that speaks to the youth. The album addresses issues like isintu- the African way of doing things like praising the gods or serving a higher being- which lies beyond the confines of the western conceptualization of religion. In this album Okmalumkoolkat addresses the trend of South African youth looking down upon their cultures, religion and traditions. He smoothly does this by rapping mainly in Isizulu as well as collaborating with Mashayabuqe who has successfully merged maskandi music with trap music and Shomadjozi who raps fluently in Xitsonga. This demonstrates that one does not need to be a pure imitator of mainstream American hip-hop culture. It is obvious that hip hop is at its most successful period in the country. Because it is part of the mainstream, most artists have become monotonous producing music of a lesser quality with everyone adhering to the winning formula. It’s time South African hip hop becomes more inclusive and celebratory of South Africa’s diverse cultures. In our social media-driven age, it is refreshing to see artists who are genuinely making music for a certain cause and act as an inspiration to the youth. One needs to listen to this album to get a sense of what I am talking about.

21st Sep2015

Mix-and-Match!

by admin

This week’s edition of exPress imPress is short-and-sweet and our writers touch on assorted topics.

In Impressing – Entertainment and Lifestyle: Nqubeko Nzimande writes about the ongoing feud between two local hip-hop sensations, AKA and Cassper Nyovest. Furthermore, in Impressions – My Diary: Ahmed Kajee shares his concerns about the deterioration of Fordsburg, and more specifically, Fordsburg Square; Mpimanyeto Mashimbye explains how time waits for no man and why it is important to take control of the limited time that we do have in order to establish ourselves and find our place in this world; and finally, Sandiswa Sondzaba shares a touching poem that she wrote about the Syrian refugee crisis, and in particular, Aylan Kurdi – the Syrian child whose lifeless body was found washed up ashore as a result of his family’s attempt to escape the warzone that is Syria.

Flag-Pins-Syria-South-Africa

We hope you enjoy this edition!

See you soon,

Jess

21st Sep2015

Hip-hop is a Contact Sport

by admin

Nqubeko Nzimande writes about ever-popular hip-hop culture in South Africa and the on-going feud between two local recording artists, AKA and Cassper Nyovest, which is all in the name of the game!

hip

Perhaps what has fuelled the feud among hip-hop artists is the idea that ‘two bulls cannot rule one kraal.’ With all hip-hop artists’ refusal to submit and accept the fact of life – that we cannot all be captains; some of us have to be the crew – different forms of displaying dominance is always the order of the day within the hip-hop sphere. This is how these artists attempt to stay ahead of their rivals in the game. Quite often ‘diss tracks’ are used as instruments of battling and sadly, in some instances, physical violence is also used as a final resort of displaying dominance in the game. However, this is not a new phenonmen; these quarrels can be traced back to the days of Nas and Biggie Smalls, Ja Rule and 50 Cent, and more recently, Meek Mill and Drake.

In South Africa, hip-hop has hustled its way up to being the country’s most popular genre in the music scene. Basically, it is the coolest genre of music (in my opinion at least), with most radio stations playing hip-hop songs more often thn not. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that South African hip-hop artists have been nominated for and won awards in the Black Entertainment Television Awards (BET Awards) and MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs), which indicates that SA hip-hop is slowly but surely climbing the international music ladder.

As expected, SA hip-hop artists are no exception to the norm; they are playing it rough. Recently making headlines are the two prominent artists: AKA and Cassper Nyovest. The two hip-hop sensations have been embroiled in a controversial feud for quite some time now; their rivalry centring around who is better than the other. Their scale of measuring who is better is through who has the most amount of hit songs, lyrics and punch lines as well as awards won, money, cars and houses.

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According to Cassper Nyovest, his beef with AKA reached a new level when AKA’s friend pointed a gun at him. This incident occurred around March of this year. Four months later, media reports went viral about AKA slapping Cassper Nyovest in a night club, and AKA was reported to have admitted it too.

AKA also recently released a track titled: Composure, where he disses Cassper Nyovest; to which Nyovest replied with a track titled Back to Back – which hip-hop followers considered to be of weak content. Nonetheless, Nyovest has released yet another freestyle track titled: Ashes to Ashes, where he states that he will deal with local beef when he comes back from Europe; since he is on tour abroad.

Regardless of this local, and arguably petty, feud, hip-hop is doing well in South Africa and this should be applauded. So, those who hold otherwise views regarding South African hip-hop should, as AKA put it in Composure: “Hold it now, hold it now, hold it now. This ain’t your moment we own it now.”

04th May2015

One Thing About Music

by admin

Jeffrey Motlhamme sheds light over the recent violent riots that have been taking place in Baltimore; further illustrating how Hip Hop and influential rap artists contribute to the promotion of positivity and peaceful during such times.

As Bob Marley sang: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” But, sometimes when it hits you; you feel the power behind the message instead. When looking at the state of Mu 1society today, things are just not the same. Music should bring people together despite their differences. Any genre of music can communicate messages to society, but because of the violence currently being experienced in Baltimore, I am going to place my focus on rap music. Rap music in the United States is dominant and very influential; but it all comes down to how rappers use this influence. My previous article on Hip Hop, black violence and racism expressed the idea that rappers should use their platforms to communicate and raise awareness about important issues in society. Well, my brothers and sisters of Hip Hop, things are looking good.

Following the death of Freddie Gray, who was in police custody when he suddenly passed, the people of Baltimore, and predominantly young black men,mu 2 began rioting in an attempt to determine what exactly caused Gray’s death. This kind of behaviour is not really surprising considering more and more incidents involving police brutality in the United States are emerging. However, our brothers in the Hip Hop industry really showed some love and urged citizens to take care of Baltimore instead of continuing to destroy it. Lupe Fiasco dedicated his, “It just might be okay,” video to Baltimore as a way of inspiring the people to stop rioting. Fiasco, one of the most socially-conscious rappers, inspired the people of Baltimore to be hopeful in this music video, from his 2006 album, titled: “Food and Liquor”. Wale also personally met with Baltimore students and urged them to stay together despite the violent events that were taking place.

mu 3What these socially-conscious rappers did is a clear example of how rap artists should use their fame to positively affect society. Music has an enormous influence on the lives of people and it can also shape how people perceive or understand certain issues in society. For example, this can be seen in the way people try to imitate and become gangsters because rappers are informing them of how gangsters behave. It can also be seen in the way people dress and speak. In short, music is power exercised in a very simplistic fashion; but it has a greater effect. This is the very same reason as to why when it hits you, you feel no pain.

The rap artists who dedicated music to and visited Baltimore greatly impacted the citizens and encouraged them to act peacefully. This is something that needs to be promoted not only in Baltimore; but also in other communities and countries caught up in the middle of violence. These acts of positive and peaceful promotion should open up possibilities to shape social discourses and also inspire other rappers to start touching on important issues. Music should help free people who are stuck in a tangled web of hatred and violence. Thanks to influential figures, such as Wale and Fiasco, I am hopeful for the end, or at least decline of, violent events taking place in Baltimore. I also hope that there will be change for the citizens of Baltimore and that justice will be served. My brothers and sisters of Hip Hop, I leave you with Lupe Fiasco’s message: “Revolution is hope for the hopeless”.

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