16th May2016

Bumping Up Local Music

by admin

SABC Local MusicThe digital age has taken over and the fact that you’re reading this on a blog instead of a newspaper is proves this to be fact. In the midst of the metamorphosis of the different forms of communication that people have become accustomed to, there are mediums of communication that may never lose their flair and radio is one of them. The manner in which audiences and fans engage with their latest and favourite music still seems to bring a community of fans together. The power of the audience has been intensified through the sharing of good tunes, and the rating and changing of music charts through social media.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation, the biggest national producer of entertainment- from television to radio- took the bold decision this past Thursday, 12 May 2016 to change the radio and local music industry. Radio stations are known for their variety in content that cuts across the board, from allowing South Africans to jam to the latest tracks topping European-American charts, to ensuring that they also dap to their local is lekker hit makers and before the end of the week. All this took an unexpected turn in favour of home grown sounds. The SABC has decided that all 18 radio stations will be required to play 90% local music, with the genres kwaito, gospel, reggae and jazz taking the forefront.

This decision is not something which was out of reach. Rather, the decision has been regarded as something that has been a long time coming and, thus, has been welcomed with open arms by a wide range of die hard patriotic local music and radio fanatics. Platinum recording and award winning hip-hop artist Cassper Nyovest among many others, was one of the first local artists to convey his excitement on the patriotic move on social media, in a Facebook post, with a caption reading: “As of tomorrow there will 90 % local music playing on radio!!! It’s now an official law!!! What a time!!! To be alive!!!…”  Nyovest’s views on bumping up local music up were clearly outlined in an interview with local news station eNCA where he shared his sentiments on how it was more than just a reflection of the progress of local music, but also discussed its contributions and expected effects on the music industry. Positive feedback dominated social media after the news broke out with radio fans sharing their new radio experiences.

Cassper Nyovest

Although positive feedback from fans were trending, like anything some views were expressed regarding the possible detrimental effects, ranging from  failure to generate variety in the content or in some  instances, whether this move is sustainable and these concerns were met by Tiyani  Maluleke’s response, the marketing general  manager of the South African Music Rights Organization (Samro)  in a comment released assuring audiences that the local music industry has enough quality offerings to bring to the table.

There are plenty of advantages that come from playing international acts as much as they have been on local radio before. However, the SABC’s move to bump the local music quota up to a steep 90% and proudly placing locally produced music in the forefront might ensure that it is savored on a whole new level. This might possibly secure longevity, not only for artists in the industry, but also for the industry itself. This decision might be just what South Africa’s attempts in transformation needs.

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!

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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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14th Apr2014

Back to The City 2014- The biggest Hip Hop festival in Africa

by admin

Genesis Manney looks at the upcoming Back to The City festival that will be taking place in Johannesburg.

gm1It cannot be denied that Hip Hop is one of the fastest growing genres in music. With Veterans such as Amu, Skwatta Camp and Ben Sharper to name a few, it is no wonder that South African fans of Hip Hop needed a platform that focused exclusively on Hip Hop culture. We (South African Hip Hop fans) were never exposed to any large platforms incorporating underground and commercial Hip Hop alike but finally, there was a solution- BACK TO THE CITY!

Back to The City is currently one of the most popular Hip Hop festivals across Africa and is one of the most talked about events on any South African Hip Hop head’s calendar. The event is held on the 27th of April every year and is now officially hosted at Mary-Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg due to the large numbers of crowds that have attended in the past. As many as 17 000 Hip Hop supporters were present at last year’s gathering and it is speculated that numbers will increase this year.

The masters and gurus of this event include a team of Hip Hop enthusiasts who have managed to take the music industry by storm. The Ritual Media Group consists mainly of: Osmic, Lerato, Rashid Kay, Dynamic  and TTP who are in charge of the event while a steadfast and hardworking team help to get the job done in the background.

The Event begins with a Hip Hop summit at The African Museum (opposite the Mary Fitzgerald Square) where the current situation of Hip Hop is discussed and debated upon. The workshop encourages inter-connectivity and collective problem solving. This is then followed by the main event, the concert.

Back to The City showcases some of Mzansi’s hottest contemporary talent as well as veterans who have contributed to the South African Hip Hop industry in the past. Other happenings at the event include:

  • The Annual Sprite Uncontainable challenge, which sets up an audition platform for Hip Hop heads that would like to take part in the competition this year. This competition includes rappers, dancers and graffiti artists who will battle it out to become winners in their respective categories.
  • Red Bull will also be hosting the 10k challenge for MCs and producers alike who will compete for a cash prize of R10 000 as well as the chance to perform at Back To The City on the very same day.
  • A beatboxing battle will also be held on the main stage.
  • Stalls are also set up where food, music and clothing will be on sale to the public.

Back to the City also brings Hip Hop Heads an international act that is announced closer to the time.  So far, the line up for 2014 includes the likes of Reason, Blaklez and Ginger Breadman to name a few.

Tickets are on sale at The Ritual stores (Corner Bree and Henry Nxumalo) Newtown.

Tickets Range from R80.00 – R180.00.

For more info follow @ritualstores.

You can also visit the festival website: www.backtothecityfestival.com

gm2

Get your tickets soon –Gigi LaMayne

 

24th Mar2014

Our definition of beauty

by admin

Emily Kangwa looks at the debate around beauty and skin colour

ek1There has been some controversy around musician Pharrell Williams’s new ‘G I R L’ album cover. His cover only has two light skinned Latina women and a Caucasian woman on it with him. Based on this, a common question that emerged linked to why there were no black women on his cover.

But can we be upset at Pharrell for representing what we see as beauty in today’s society on his album cover?

My answer is no we cannot! I say this because in today’s society it seems that defining beauty is no longer about someone’s face, smile, eyes or personality.  It has become about someone’s pigment, which only has the function of giving someone colour and not beauty. Many Girls are putting pictures up on social media and captioning it ‘yellow bone’ and/or ‘light skinned’ as if these words mean ‘beautiful’ or ‘pretty’.

We even have beautiful women bleaching and lightening their skin because they believe that a person is only beautiful when their skin is light. It has been engraved in their minds that light skin represents beauty.

We live in a society that no longer sees beauty, that no longer appreciates genuine beauty. Instead society looks at the colour of someone’s skin because that’s what we are told defines someone’s beauty, we see it in movies, music videos and magazines.

Being light skinned is something that has been glamorized. It no longer matters if a person is beautiful and has an incredible personality. What matters is how light their skin is. It has become something everyone desires which is absolutely absurd because giving flesh that much credit is ridiculous. Why are we giving beauty one distinct representation and image? Beauty comes in different forms, shapes and colours. We cannot put beauty in a box of just one definition and one skin tone, but we do.

If we want things to change we need to look beyond someone’s skin tone. We need to relook at our ideas of beauty. We need to believe that beauty is beyond the shade of someone’s flesh. Dark skin should not be associated with being ugly and light skin should not automatically be associated with being beautiful.

Because of this we cannot fault Pharrell Williams choice of women on his album cover because that is what society tends to consider as beautiful. When our thinking towards what beauty means changes and we begin to look beyond skin colour then maybe we could have a leg to stand on when we argue Pharrell’s choice of women on his album cover. Remember the colour of someone’s skin cannot define their beauty, beauty goes beyond that.

 

10th Mar2014

No local play, no legends

by admin

Genesis Manney looks at issues around airtime given to local and international music in South African Media.

Kwesta

Kwesta

“Play local or Die” has to be of the most controversial statements made by supporters of South African Music. While some may argue that local music remains not up to standard with other fellow international artists;  the ordinary South African looking for a music platform for local music, considers the controversial open letter by Kwesta. Questions about the place of South African, and more specifically, hip hop music being playlisted on our local government  radio stations were raised.

In a detailed and displeased outcry to the SABC, Metro FM Music award winning artist, Kwesta DAKAR, explained his dissatisfaction with youth radio station, 5FM.  He explains that there seemed to be marginalization of hip-hop music on the national youth radio station. One could agree to an extent that the issue resides within the amount of airplay local artists get as compared to their international counterparts. The last documented collective uproar was in 2010 in the midst of the world cup, when local artists protested against the imbalanced airtime given to international artists in comparison to them. The small hitch was covered up throughout the duration of the world cup, however, this was not carried out post- world cup.

Although, a radio station that seems to be paving the way for local artists alike has to be Radio 2000. Radio 2000 aims to playlist 70/30 percent of music in favour to local artists

Elsewhere, countries such as Zimbabwe have ruled out the slightest threat of international music dominating its national radio airwaves. A quota system has developed which orders the playlisting of 75% of local content on every distributive level. With such a clear attempt being made to promote local music, would South Africa still be facing the phenomenon of, “the broke artist” if it had the same systems in place?

Blondie Makhena

Blondie Makhena

In the last five years alone the City Press claims that South African Artists Pitch Black Afro, Blondie Makhena and Stitch were reportedly “broke” at some point.

While we can try to justify the conditions in which our artists need to sustain, live and grow within our environment, by making it seem as though they are responsible for their own downfalls, let us not ignore the significance of broadcasters’ roles. Many of these radio stations are not obligated to play any amount of local music, as their mission statements do not state this. Maybe it’s time to re-dress and re-frame this issue.

With finding somebody to blame, a situation will not find itself improving. Artists such as Kwesta had taken a very brave step in speaking up, even if that meant speaking alone. There is no point trying to compete with international musos if our own countrymen have failed to provide us with the resources and exposure that they could have provided us with in the first instance. It is also especially saddening that even private broadcasters seem to ignore the pleas of SA artists to start embracing local talent. While it is said that consumers are often influenced by trends, are public broadcasters not creating these trends and then feeding them back to listeners?  If this is the case, then these trendsetters are capable of creating a frenzy for local music too.

gm3It is therefore not one’s mission to try and slander a particular artist on why they did not “make it big enough”; especially regarding the repression of local music on public broadcasters. At this point, only government can rectify the situation in terms of quotas; especially on national radio stations. This problem needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency before there is a total concentration of international music countrywide. Furthermore this needs to be done before South Africa misses a shot at producing another Miriam Makeba or Hugh Masekela. If this is missed it will not be because of a lack of talent, but rather a lack of support from those with the capacity to either grow or snub ones talent.-Gigi LaMayne.

 

 

 

09th Sep2013

Selena Gomez: Cultural appreciation or selfish appropriation?

by admin

Sharney Nel looks at cultural appreciation/appropriation in music.

selena-gomez-mtv-movie-awards-650-430Watching the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) some time back got me thinking about cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation. Selena Gomez’s music career has finally earned a respectable standing after winning Best Pop Video at the MTV VAMs  for her hit single “Come & get it”. The video shows Gomez singing and dancing in a flower field and the song opens with an Indian male voice singing in Punjabi, as confirmed by a Times of India article.  The article also highlights various other traditional Indian influences such as the tabla music in the background of the song and the “Indian classical dance moves”. It is obvious to anyone who is familiar with Indian culture that this music video appropriates that culture. Personally, however, when I first saw the music video I did not recognise the strong Indian influence. While I knew the concept of “the exotic other” was once again being assumed by an American artist, I actually appreciated the fact that Gomez was finally expressing her sensuality and independence.

I however started contemplating the matter after coming across an article on E! Online, which stated that aspects of the video as well as live performances of the song were controversial as it offended members of the Hindu community. The offense is mainly taken due to Gomez wearing a bindi, a traditional Hindu forehead decoration, whilst dancing sensually and therefore consequently undermining the religious meaning thereof. Various comments under the article by people of Hindu religion or Indian culture nonetheless indicate that the bindi worn by Gomez is not a traditional Hindu bindi but merely a decorative one and that those who are offended are exaggerating the matter. Others have also expressed their appreciation for the fact that Gomez’s video showcases Indian culture and places it on an international scale. This is one of the positive arguments usually adopted by individuals who are in support of cultural appropriation. It seems a fair stance to take and there is no real harm in Gomez’s performing of the song or in her appropriation of Indian culture.

The most powerful response to Gomez’s video and VMA performance is however made by Anisha Ahuja on the media platform “Feminspire”. Ahuja explains that Gomez’s appropriation of Indian culture reinforces the commodification of South Asian cultures by Western agents and her wearing of the bindi is an insult to dark skinned Indian-American women. She poses the serious question: “How unfortunate is it that my parents had to literally force me to wear beautiful parts of my culture because I was afraid of being ostracized, but Selena Gomez can take aspects of the clothing I grew up with and make money off of them?” Ahuja’s argument is justified by Gomez’s own response in an interview where she states that the song is her way of “exuding confidence” and that it has a “middle eastern feel” which is very “vibey”. This illustrates that the young artist shows no regard for the culture she appropriates as her viewpoints are misconstrued and she provides no motivation for usurping Indian culture during her interview about the hit song.

As a musician of predominantly traditional African and classical music, I agree strongly with aspects of Ahuja’s piece, especially the fact that Gomez cannot be taken seriously as an artist if she does not realise the meaning in what she communicates to her audience. However, as a pop singer and someone who is given a platform to create, appropriate or deconstruct any culture for artistic purpose, one cannot really blame Gomez for her actions. Pop singers are usually not meant to be taken seriously particularly if they are likely to achieve success out of “meaningless” music. One can also not hold the artist responsible if the world which gives her that success does not care about the deeper meanings in the music she shares. This is evident in Gomez’s case as the responses to the controversy in support of Gomez far exceed the negative impact of her cultural appropriation. The only way pop music and cultural appreciation can be forced into being an art form of greater internal connotation is if the world demands it to be that way. If audiences are happy and entertained by seemingly meaningless music and tactics then there is little that artists can do to change the situation, especially if their own selfish intentions are supported by the masses in that regard.

 

 

12th Aug2013

Apps – Holy Grail of music marketing and promotion strategies?

by admin

Daniel Mpala looks at new marketing strategies in music.

download (1)The music industry is one that is dynamic and always on the cutting edge of technological developments. As times change so does the way in which music is sold and marketed.  In an age where an artist’s quantity of first week sales has become more than just a measure of success, musicians have been coming up with very innovative and unique strategies to market their music. Gone are the days when artists simply showed up to a gig performed and then attempted to sell a few copies of their mixtapes from the boots of their cars. In an industry where everyday a new player comes in with new ideas and concepts, music videos also do not just cut it anymore. Artists now need aggressive marketing and promotional strategies if they are serious about making money off their art.

images (10)By far the most complex and innovative music marketing strategy was Jay-Z’s release of his 12th studio album via the Magna Carta Holy Grail app as a free download to Samsung customers 72 hours before the physical album was due to be released. This literally defied convention in an industry where the norm is to have a marketing plan that entails some press and publicity, radio promotions, video promotions, e-blast implementation, shows/tours, online promotions, press releases amongst other strategies. However despite the app sparking some privacy concerns ,the app (and album) went on to be certified platinum on the same day it was physically released. The album itself achieved 528 000 sales in its first week of sales and broke the record on Spotify with 14 million streams. This is an unprecedented fit in the music industry. The $5 million marketing move saw Jay-Z  get $5 from Samsung in return for each of the one million copies of the album downloaded via the app. Some may argue that marketing stunts of this nature have been done and carried out before, but the scale at which Jay-Z did this still remains awe inspiring.

What lessons can be learnt from this though? Seeing as this marketing strategy is really not applicable to every artist out there, more so to upcoming artists, since one would already have to be really famous to make use of this?

–        Most people are always on their phone and releasing music via apps like this is a very innovative and practical way to listen to music that have not been fully utilized.

–        Artists can make use of the digital experience:  there is just so much people can try while using apps to release albums, the possibilities are endless from interactive material to lyric sheets.

–        Ease of distribution and access by using such platforms given that a lot of people use them.

images (7)The biggest lesson out of this is artists have to keep up with technology. This does not necessarily mean releasing an “album app”, but exploring other such avenues. All artists can and should come up with apps that give their fans information about their release dates, enable them to watch videos, interviews, tour dates and pretty much anything that could help promote them. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will become a game changer. But if the public reaction to this is anything to go by, this could be the next biggest trend in music marketing and promotion.

 

25th Mar2013

What are we listening to?

by admin

Daniel Mpala asks if modern music is devoid of meaning.

With the average adult listening to around 4 hours of music a day, (works out to be 13 years of your life), when was the last time you really paid attention to the lyrics on that favourite track you are always listening to? Do we even care anymore to even scrutinize and unpack the lyrical content of the music we spend a substantially larger part of our lives listening to?

bands a make her danceJust the other day I was walking home listening to Bands A Make Her Dance by Juicy J, 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne. For some reason I had never quite listened attentively to the lyrics. Like most people I only started listening to the song because it was popular and seemed to be “the” song. Upon listening to it however, I was utterly shocked beyond disbelief as to how a song about strippers, prostitutes and sex,  became so popular to the extent that not only was it ranked the 3rd top single of 2012 but was also  according to Complex magazine one of the 25 best songs for 2012 . How does such an explicit song become so popular given it is bereft of any positive and intelligible meaning? Is it for lack of anything better to listen to? Media is said to reflect society, does this song reflect the society we live in? Or simply has music evolved and in doing so lost all meaning?

I am often chided by my older siblings about my musical preference. I think most of you relate to at some point having your older siblings or parents lecture you on music; what good music is and is supposed to be. Probably in those conversations certain names would have come up , names like Michael Jackson, The Beatles, James Brown ,Marvin Gaye, Prince, Phil Collins  Elvis Pressley, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and The Bee Gees to name but a few. Although this music is ancient and is from many many eons ago it was more importantly than anything full of meaning. Music then told stories and taught lessons. It was pure and made from the heart.

Back to the present, where “rappers” like Lil B and Soulja Boy can amass millions of viewers on Youtube (these two are snubbed by hip-hop purists for their awful lyrics and failure to rhyme). The following that these two artists garner makes you ask yourself whether the people who follow these artists do indeed derive any sort of meaning from it.  There is speculation that the root of the problem as far as meaning is concerned lies not only with artists but with record labels as well. They supposedly hurry artists to come up with content and in the process contribute to the lacklustre songs that are then released to the public.

listenspeakHowever there’s a whole new class of artist that is emerging that is set on changing this and bringing meaning back to music as it is. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Lupe Fiasco, J.Cole and Wale with their innovative unprecedented use of the English language are changing the way people listen and appreciate music. The stories they are telling through their music have gotten people talking about the complex meaning and the brilliant wordplay embedded in their songs. They have gone short of starting a semantic revolution in the industry. This new class of artists have chosen to leave what had become the norm, to rap and sing about having cars, wealth and women and are instead writing music about everyday life issues that the ordinary person on the street faces. This is not just limited to hip hop, with other artists from different genres also now making content rich music; The Weeknd and Frank Ocean are just but a few examples.

Music like most things is dynamic. It is as prone to and is shaped by the same cultural, political and even economic changes that we face in society. It may be unfair to compare present day music to say that of the 70s,80s and maybe early 90s music because of the different economic, social and political climates. But regardless of that, music is supposed to bear meaning. Shakespeare famously wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it.” This can only be if we move back to music with lyrical content and meaning.

 

 

 

 

30th Oct2012

Music speaks as an alternative

by admin

As many would have seen on campus, there is a diverse and dynamic group of emerging hip hop artists who come together in numbers to rap and participate in a platform of dialogue. As emerging hip hop artists, they share a common life of all being students at Wits University. On an occasional basis, mostly around mid-afternoon, students walk past their performance with interest and disbelief of how such talent lives and breathes on the surface of the University. The students participating in the unstructured event are from different races, gender, cultures, traditions and professions. When observing the participating students from the audience, one sees a guitarist, rappers, a diverse crowd and most of all one sees democracy. One could identify this young talented group of students as a subculture that subverts today’s cultural industry that is commercialised.

The intriguing story behind this subculture traces back to the past forms of oppression that the youth and minorities in South Africa suffered from. Racial inequalities, sexuality, gender differences and socio-economic factors kept these students from coming together previously and doing what they love. During the struggles of the past, the youth was stripped from their heritage, their traditions and their passions. In the presence of the emerging hip hop students, one looks beyond the social constructs and identity of the students but instead one sees the naked expression and truthful nature of the students.

Not knowing when to expect the next event or not knowing how long it will last for creates the very interest of its audience. After speaking to many of the students joining in the crowd, they felt that the unstructured event brought liberation and power into the hands of the students, especially those who are not represented by the mass of students. The event contributes to provoking social change at the university, such that it is not predetermined and selective. Bystanders come with interest and stand for a while and then leave with fulfillment and happiness. To them it is not about the genre, the setting or the performance. It is about the message, the content and the platform.

As stated by D’Cook (1985), “Hip hop continues to be a direct response to an older generation’s rejection of the values and needs of young people. Initially all of hip hop’s major facets were forms of self-expression. The driving force behind all these activities was people’s desire to be seen and heard”.

Through their acts, they portray a powerful form of how their music has constructed and shaped their identity. Their psychological emancipation is derived from their conscious ability to transform the socialization of contemporary society into an act of defiance in a counterpublic space. One cannot help but look forward to the next event that is unknown to us all.

Dewandre Lawrence is a third year student in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

 

 

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