last year, I have decided against an end of the year list - I think there are
enough of them as it is - and prepared a small musical mixdown instead. I am
not promoting myself as a slick DJ who only speaks with his hands. I mainly
speak with my mouth, but I do hope you enjoy. These songs have certainly meant
a lot to me during this calendar year.
1.The Evil Empire Of by Public Enemy (USA)
by Youssoupha (France / DRC)
3.Bars by Gracias (Finland)
4.Heroes by 4DLS (Ben Sharpa & Pure Solid) (SA)
5.Redescends Sur Terre by Pitcho (Belgium / DRC)
6.Psalms by Genesis Elijah (UK)
7.Power Cut by Synik Ft. Metaphysics, Jnr Brown, M.C. Chita
8.All Black Everything by Big Frizzle (UK)
9.Makaa Maka by M.Anifest (Ghana)
10.Do It Like by Klashnekoff (UK)
11.Intergalactic Crew by Hipe Ft. Various Artists (SA)
12.Children Of VLAby The Megaphone State (Finland)
13.Message by Akala (UK)
14.Tystas Ner (Rmh Remix) byStress Ft. Sebbe Staxx, Malcolm B,
Nimo, Promoe, Moms, Adam Tensta & Aleks (Sweden)
From the Cape
Town township of Gugulethu comes Driemanskap. The name suggests three, but the
group has grown to four emcees since Redondo, one of the original three came
back from the Pollsmoore prison, and his replacement Dla Da Last Born remained
in the line-up. Redondo’s case has now been completely dismissed and he’s a
free man, but before the justice system came to this conclusion he had spent a few
years in tough prison conditions and altogether the case was hanging over him
for a about a decade. That alone would be another story; a book or feature length
film on how being in a wrong place at the wrong time can be life changing and
how easily innocent young people are thrown into the depths of the gaol if they
come from the township environment.
important as that story is, it is for someone else to write.
the new millennium Cape Town Hip-Hop activist and fine artist Mustafa Maluka
had sponsored The Battle of Gugulethu mixtape
which featured local guys Driemanskap and Ill-literate-skill (now known as
Ill Skillz). Soon after, the Cape Town Hip-Hop aficionados learned about songs
such as Itsho
Into and Pitsa Zamadoda and
of course the energetic – and that is an understatement – performances in many park
jams, clubs and other events. Before being signed to the local indie
label Pioneer Unit there was still volume two of the Battle of Gugs series and the inclusion
of the song Intwe’nje
on South African Hype magazine’s mixtape. Making the Pioneer Unit deal official
was also preceded by testing the chemistries on Planetary
Assault compilation, but things really started to happen in early 2009
when – and pardon me for using big words – the scene changing Igqabhukil’ Inyongowas released.
I remember this time well. I was
in Cape Town and following these events very carefully. The excitement around
the album had, like it so often in music does, two distinct aspects: it was
liked a lot – really, a lot – but by limited group of people. In order for the
masses to find this album, some visibility in local and national media were
urgently needed and that is a lot easier to say than to do. Such are the idiosyncrasies
of both the local and the national media ecosystems.
Besides being a fan of Hip-Hop I
have always been interested in radio to such extent that I have basically spent
all my time in academia studying and teaching it. Around the time of this
album, I remember teaching music programming for radio students in the local
university. In radio language that means how the music is selected and how
often and in what order it is being played and I was feeling upbeat since I
felt that the first single/video from this album – Camagu –
was just the kind of track that had all the aesthetics covered for it to cross over
yet remain credible in South Africa. I thought it was inevitable especially
after the success of artists such as Prokid and Zuluboy; never even mind about Zola who under a banner of a different genre – Kwaito –
celebrated similar styles with huge success. This seemingly inevitable
breakthrough was however only too evitable. Metro FM, which is the youth-orientated
station of the public broadcaster SABC responded to the Pioneer Unit /
Driemanskap radio promo submission with a sort of kind, but confusing no thank you.
“The general feedback from the committee was that the music is satisfactory, however not unavoidably with the METRO
FM music format”. The station starts its
letter. “We however regret to inform you that after intense listening and careful consideration the songs submitted could
not be placed on our playlist. We thank
you for your interest in the station andlook forward to more submissions
from yourselves in the future.”
In Hip-Hop they say Nuff Said.
That was enough to lower the
expectations even to the optimists, but what surprised me more than the fact
that songs such as aforementioned Camagu was completely overlooked, was that
the raw sounding street anthem – one of my definite favourites, but a song I
didn’t see to have a lot of air-play potential S’phum’eGugswasn’t. That video was actually included in one of the South Africa’s
most viewed programmes Live! and from there, the tide turned.
Now the new album is on its way
and yesterday the first video was premiered on national TV. The song Izulu Lelam can be freely downloaded as MP3 and the
video is now also online. The main obstacle of being completely ignored has
been crushed and we will see how the rest of the album is received by the media
and by the people. And that is the question – as a fan I am biased, but making
great music has never been a challenge for these four.
Akala stays relevant in every way artist only can. Here's a new video - it's the second one from his Knowledge is Power vol. 1 release which came out earlier this year and after that there's an interview where he - once again - proves that he's in the know.
My holiday is ending tomorrow, but it's been a great summer. Different one - I give you that - with a young baby in the house, and today I have been trying to explain to myself that just because my holiday is over doesn't mean that the whole summer is done. I certainly hope it isn't.