Clement Gama

Clement Gama03/04/2019
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8min440

TODAY marks 14 years since rapper ProVerb released his debut album, Book Of Proverb. The project came hard as debuts come, setting the emcee as one of the best lyricist to come out of South Africa. And the world.

Tebogo Tekisho has grown to become more than just a rapper in the industry, now a radio personality, a voice over artist and a television producer. Regardless of the uncanny strides the rapper has made outside of music, he remains one of the fiercest emcees in the country when talking lyricists. Book Of Proverb is the sort of album every kat needs to listen to, for lessons on how to create an authentic Hip Hop album. Because like he said on Microphone Sweet Home

…I drop knowledge, buying my album is like paying school fees, so take notes while I tutor emcees…

Here are five reasons why Book Of Proverb is a classic album:

IT’S REAL

The first box to tick as an emcee, or any participant in the Hip Hop culture, is whether you’re a genuine person or not. ProVerb didn’t come in the game claiming Cape Town or Joburg as his hometown. He is Kimberly’s finest diamond.  I can imagine the sense of pride that people from the city of diamonds had, when they heard Kimberly Rise.

But true to who he is, ProVerb didn’t paint a picture with glitter of the Northern Cape city, he spat about the harsh realities of the place-the high suicide rate and unemployment. But it gave so much hope to the people that, if he can make it outta there, so can they-and that’s some real shit!

IT’S COHESIVE

Back in the day you’d find them lyrical-miracle typa dudes walking about with dictionary in hand, rapping just about anything. This way of rapping often crept into their albums, where they would go on a 20 track tangent. Book Of Proverb was quite solid, taking us into the rapper’s different chapters in his life track-by-track. It could be a long album in today’s project duration, but because of its cohesiveness, you kinda forget that it’s a 15 track album and just let it play.

BEAUTIFUL STORYTELLING

The first verse on My Vers’d Love, where ProVerb paints a vivid picture of his love affair with Hip Hop dating back to his school days, is one of my favourite verses of all time. Even on Where Did She Go, ProVerb takes you through his relationship with a beautiful mysterious girl he first exchanged eye-contact with while performing, to ending up in the sheets with her. His storytelling is gripping as series on Netflix.

HIGH QUALITY OF LYRICISM

Very few kats can easily drop punchlines, metaphors and similes like ProVerb. Some kats have great vocals, and exceptional flow to help better their whole product. ProVerb relies on his skill as an emcee.

Who can touch the Pro’s style? None of

You, barely move me like a school bus with no driver,

Who can bust a flow lava, and who got enough rhymes to be your entire

Crew ghost-writer, the provider,

Grow wiser than a story told by an old timer,

I’m burning up the charts with more fire,

Today’s reading is taken from the Book of Proverb,

It’s chapter One verse one

He raps on Index.

MUSICALITY

Although this is an album for Hip Hop heads, you gotta appreciate its musicality. It has songs that are appreciated by people aren’t devoted followers of this Hip Hop culture. Women, which is an ode to all the women in his life and those across the globe, is a beautiful track that I’ve always felt was slept on. The song is cut of the same cloth as the 2PAC’s Dear Mama and Nas’s Dance.

Songs like Heart Beat and I have A Dream were songs I heard on YFM back in the day, which were instantly appreciated by the station’s various listeners. Sex, Drugs and Alcohol where ProVerb teams up with Tumi and Zubz is a fun joint that puts a spotlight on the dark side of media and entertainment industry which trips a lot of young people.


Clement Gama02/28/2019
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3min340

I shit you not, you can Google Mam’Dorothy Masuku and ‘Masuka’ will pop up. Growing up, I’ve asked myself countless times what Mam’Dorothy’s correct surname is.

We live in times where assumptions of how someone’s name is spelt could land you in trouble. Not all Shabalala’s are slept with a ‘T’, in the same way Khoza can also be slept with an ‘S’. So I’ve always been unsure about the legend’s last name until I learnt that she was actually a Masuku.

In the 1950s, when the vocalist with an elegant voice began her career, a record executive misspelt her surname by adding the first letter of the alphabet at the end of her last name. The Caucasian executive butchered her Ndebele surname on one of her first records. Headlines today, carry the weight of the perilous ‘A’ at the rear of her surname. But this is because the young Masuku was told that Masuka will be her stage name. “She said she had kinda accepted it because in the Jewish language, the word Masuka means being happy, happiness or something like that. So she kinda let it slide,” said singer Tribute Birdie Mboweni speaking in an interview on Kaya FM.

Mboweni is one of the very few young singers that celebrated Masuku while she was still alive, by creating her own modern renditions of music originally done by Mam’Dorothy.

Born in 1935, in Bulawayo Zimbabwe but moved to South Africa as a 12 year-old and in less than 10 years in Mzansi, she was already touring the country as a 19 year-old. She passed away on Saturday the age of 83, surrounded by family. She’s expected to be laid to rest this weekend.


Clement Gama02/06/2019
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6min2740

Explaining his reason for having lyrics in the sleeve of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1973 album Burnin’ Island Records founder Chris Blackwell said in a documentary “This music, which at this point in time was novelty music, I really wanted to get across that this is not just novelty, what these words are saying, are words which have a universal appeal, they are not just Jamaican, they’re not throw away words. This man’s a poet really.”

Burnin’ was the group’s second album under Blackwell’s Island Records and at the time, Reggae wasn’t a popular style of music outside of Jamaica. The way the album was presented, its art and printed lyrics, made the marginalised genre more marketable to the rest of the world. Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer are immortal musical giants, but Marley is a pop icon that wrote most of the trio’s music. By 1974 the group had disbanded, which saw Marley go solo but supported by new band members under the same name.

Bob Marley had a lovable character and made music that effortlessly connected with people. Thanks to the music he left us with, generations keep falling in love with the man from Trenchtown, Kingston Jamaica. As today would’ve been Marley’s 74th birthday, we remember him through his words, be it written in lyrics or those uttered in conversation. Words which epitomize his character; for what’s a man without his word…

“FREE SPEECH CARRIES WITH IT SOME FREEDOM TO LISTEN”

Bob_Marley Statue in Kingston Jamaica

“MY MUSIC WILL GO ON FOREVER. MAYBE IT’S A FOOL WHO SAY THAT, BUT WHEN ME KNOW FACTS ME CAN SAY FACTS. MY MUSIC WILL GO ON FOREVER.”

 

“NO ONE BUT OURSELVES CAN FREE OUR MINDS.”

Bob Marley bringing together Jamaican politicians that had been opposing each other . Photo from Bobmarley.com

“DON’T WORRY, ABOUT A THING, EVERY LITTLE THING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT”

“I HAVE A BMW. BUT ONLY BECAUSE BMW STANDS FOR BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS, AND NOT BECAUSE I NEED AN EXPENSIVE CAR”

The Legend enjoying a game of soccer. From bobmarley.com

“MY MUSIC FIGHTS AGAINST THE SYSTEM THAT TEACHES TO LIVE AND DIE”

 “ONE THING ABOUT MUSIC-WHEN IT HITS YOU, YOU FEEL NO PAIN”

Bob Marley in Ethiopia. From bobmarley.com

“THE GOOD TIMES TODAY, ARE THE SAD THOUGHTS OF TOMORROW”

“HERB IS THE HEALING OF A NATION, ALCOHOL IS THE DESTRUCTION”

 

Bob Marley enjoying a blunt. From Bobmarley.com

“THE BIGGEST COWARD OF A MAN IS TO AWAKEN THE LOVE OF A WOMAN WITHOUT INTENTION OF LOVING HER”

 


Clement Gama01/30/2019
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3min260

IN honour of Black History Month, people in the US will be able to watch African inspired superhero movie Black Panther in cinemas without buying a ticket this February.

The Marvel billion-dollar blockbuster that had Africans in the diaspora and on the continent in a euphoric state of pride a year ago, will be shown for only one week, at 250 AMC theatres in the US. The Oscar-nominated film walked away with a slew of gongs in hand on Sunday night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) which are seen as the curtain-raiser for the more prestigious Oscars.

Also known as African American History month, the observance to celebrate dates back to 1926 in the US when black historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association of Negro Life and History set the second week of February to be Negro History Week. The dates also corresponded with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who are big figures in US black history. But the month-long observations commenced in 1970.

In the following years, other countries that have also joined the US’ 28 day celebration of black history. It was in 1987 when the United Kingdom first commemorated the month as black history, Canada and the Republic of Ireland joined the movement in 1995 and 2014 respectively.

Like anything under the sun, Black History Month has come under criticism from a number of black American who are of the opinion that the month celebrations are defeating the purpose of having a Black History Month. Black people’s history and contribution to the US is still not in the country’s mainstream education-darkies in the US are still limited to narratives of being slaves and colonial subjects. “I don’t want Black History Month. Black history is American history,” Morgan Freeman once said.


Clement Gama01/23/2019
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7min412

GOOGLE an Aries’ traits and you will find that they are; Creative, independent, spontaneous and quite stylish.

Hugh Masekela, who died today a year ago was an Aries, born on April 4th. The jazz legend was an obvious creative, a staunch independent man while his travels showed his spontaneity and had he a penchant for fine apparel.

HIS INDEPENDENCE

Maybe it might be hard to think of him as independent, looking at the rate at which he collaborated with other artists throughout his career. But his independence shone brighter under the cloud of collaboration in the slew of bands he was part of. Masekela, together with Dollar Brand (now known as Abdul Ibrahim), Kippie Moeketsi, Makhaya Ntshoko and Jonny Gertze make-up the first African jazz ensemble, Jazz Epistles, to record an LP in 1959.

They sold out shows in different parts of the country, but he understood that he couldn’t stay in South Africa because of dump-ass apartheid system. With lyrics swelling of anti-government chants, he left the country for London but soon moved from the UK after meeting Harry Belafonte and became a student at New York’s Manhattan School of Music. Despite spending a large part of his time in the US and other parts of the world, Masekela never discarded his South African pride, languages and cultures. He was an independent thinker who understood his role.

HIS STYLE

His style isn’t the culture-defining kinda stuff that a Bob Marley made look seamless in his Adidas tracksuits. But Masekela was savvy enough to dress himself in adequate class and eight times out of 10, you’d see the old man rocking his newsboy cap that he was very fond of with a dashiki to mark his pride and love for Africa. Whatever he wore, he manged to partake in the day’s fashion, remain true to himself and be comfortable on stage.

MONTEREY CA – JUNE 17: Hugh Masekela performs on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 17 1967 in Monterey, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

HIS CREATIVITY

He always had the juice. Not only was he an astute jazz musician who composed some of the greatest music of our time, Masekela also knew how to use that music into other spheres in the art spaces for education, entertainment and activism. Together with comedian Kagiso Lediga, Maskela created late night talk show The Bantu Hour.

Built around the most famous boxing match in history, the Muhammed Ali vs George Foreman fight, Masekela with close friend Stewart Levine, organised a music festival, Zaire 74 in Kinshasa.

He ingeniously managed to fuse different styles of music to create something new- another reason for his longevity. In 1985 he founded the Botswana International School of Music, which still exists today.

HIS SPONTANEITY

Nelson Mandela wrote him a warm birthday letter while the former statesman was still in prison. In response and out of the blue at a party, Hugh went to the piano and began singing what we know today as Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) which became an instant hit.

He travelled and lived in different parts of the world for numerous reasons. His discography paints a picture of how natural he was at creating music. After spending a lot of time in the US and Europe, he came back to Africa and worked with West African band from Ghana, Hedzoleh Soundz to make some Afro-beat inspired tunes.

But around the mid-80s he was based in Botswana where he made music inspired by Southern sounds such as Mbaqanga. He sporadically changed sounds; it’s as though he knew what sound was right for his audience at the time. Because of his spontaneity, his music organically reflected the times.



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