PRO KID was only 37. Ben Sharpa just 41. Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a mere 34. Mizcheif was 38. Sean Price was 43 .
All these are names of great rappers who’ve inspired generations of emcees. But the other miserable common thread among these names, is that they all died at a young age because of the lifestyles they lived. The gallons of alcohol drank, unhealthy food consumed, smoke that fills the lungs and countless blunts that are puffed and passed, plus shit sniffed up the nose are huge factors in most rappers’ early deaths.
Pro Kid who died just last week is said to have demised from a serve seizure following a night out with friends. Since his passing, a lot has been said about what actually happened to the genius rapper whose real name was Linda Mkhize. In an interview with Drum magazine, Pro’s cousin said the rapper had no history of seizures. There are suggestions that the rapper had begun taking drugs lately, to help him deal with career and life frustrations.
In my interview with the SABC’s Media Monitor this past Sunday, I mentioned that the only thing we can do now is speculate to what really happened because no one went to Pro to ask how he was. There was a requiring theme on social media in the past week from celebrities, saying they failed Pro. Failed him in what exactly?
This indicates something wrong had been happening in his life recently, but people turned a blind eye.
I last saw the rapper in June at Basha Uhuru where he delivered a good performance. But what was startling was how young he looked- before that, I had seen him around Tembisa where he visited often years ago. Then, he looked his age. But at Basha the kat didn’t necessarily look bad, but he suspiciously looked like a 22 year-old.
As much as people might think, talking about what really happened to him is tarnishing his legacy, I believe the family has a responsibility to share the post-mortem results so that it can also help the next generation of artists. It’s their prerogative I know, but being open about such helps guide artists who are already in the game and those who have ambitions of gracing stages with their talent.
Imagine what a post-mortem would do for a person like Emtee, who a just a few weeks ago fell on stage high on codeine. It would really be a reality check for the young kat and others like him.
Sharpa had been living with diabetes for a long while, but died due to complications with the disease. I can’t help ask myself if ‘the complications’ could’ve been avoided had he lived a better lifestyle.
Till this day, I laud Kwaito artist Zombo who went on live television to tell the nation that he was living with HIV AIDS. He died in 2008 at the age of 27. But that bone-chilling frankness has helped so many young men to think twice about dipping in the forbidden fruit without protection. Yea, he was ridiculed but at least now people know what not to do. If you can flaunt your success, then allow us to be privy to your downfall too. After all, you’re also a human being.
Wu Tang Clan animated rapper ODB died just two days before turning 35. His cause of death was due to an overdose on coke. An autopsy found a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription drug tramadol. The overdose was ruled accidental and witnesses say Ol’ Dirty Bastard complained of chest pain on the day he died- watching documentaries about the Wu, you get a perfect sense from those close to him that it wasn’t accidental. It’s this ‘sweeping things under the carpet’ mentality that causes the problem to escalate in the entertainment industry.
In an interview on Metro FM with DJ Fresh on his breakfast show last year, comedian John Vlismas spoke about this epidemic problem in the media and creative space. “We have been hardwired to think that we are working hard in media, we don’t really. Going down a mine is working hard. Being a domestic and working for people who are ungrateful is very hard. We think we work hard, therefore we should play hard and we have been raised in a society where this is permissive.” Vlismas himself, had issues with drug addiction before changing his lifestyle because of near-death experiences.
A member of hip-hop groups Boot Camp Clik and Random Axe, he was half of the duo Heltah Skeltah, performing under the name Ruckus, Sean Price’s death also shocked the world in 2015. A statement from his team, just said he died in his sleep-not giving anything else. He was 43 and still had so much to offer.
The last time I saw Sharpa perform was the last time I saw Mizchief, they were in Tembisa for the 21Mic Salute Hip Hop event in 2013- although Mizchief never performed. I vividly remember how Mizchief resurfaced from a hiatus, months before his passing. The Fashionable hit-maker was reported to have died of illness in 2014. The more ambiguous the reasons for an artists’ passing from those close to them, the more the legacy is tarnished by rumours.
Fela Kuti’s brother, Professor Olikoye (Ransome) Kuti, a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health in Nigeria, admitted in a press conference that Fela died of AIDS in 1997. Great as the musician was, his lifestyle choices weren’t the best. People ought to know who their heroes really are, because no one is perfect. If anything, people can now relate more to Fela.
Canadian rapper Bender who came to South Africa in 2016 to rip apart Stogie T (Tumi, of The Volume) in a rap battle, also died in March this year from a disease linked to his lifestyle. He died from sleep apnoea- a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during one’s sleep. There are various causes for this, one of them being excessive weight or obesity.
The lifestyles we live will be our downfall. It’s very important for artists to surround themselves with people who genuinely care about their well-being because as much fun and cool excessive drinking and drug intake may be, one has to always think about their health. Added to that, is that most of these artists are survived by young families who are left stranded and in debt. That people have to donate stuff to the Mkhize family is sad and quite condescending for an artist of Pro’s calibre, because we’ve seen too many artists die as paupers. How long will this go on?
*Names not mentioned include: Brenda Fassie, Whitney Houston, TK, Jimi Hendrix, Brown Dash and plenty more!
THE sight of a woman spinning a BMW 325i can be quite intimidating for a number of grown ass men. But thank goodness that hasn’t prevented Angel Beautyspot from burning the tyres of a Gusheshe in clouds of smoke, all in the name of fun.
“People would say ng’thanda izinto and some would think I’m into this game because I want attention from guys…and some look at me with those eyes that say ‘she thinks she’s better’,” says Angela Beautyspot.
Having grown up in the township myself, I’ve witnessed spinning by thungs at funerals or in celebration after a big score. Hence there’s a stigma attached to the sport, which is coupled with huge misunderstanding of what it really entails. “Whenever you mention an event, old people will just say ‘no, please leave the kids behind because they’ll get hurt’. And that’s not the case…things have changed. Spinning is an amazing sport, not a game for thugs, I just hope spinning can be recognised and people be open minded about it,” 30 year-old Angel Beautyspot says. She will be one of the spinners tomorrow at Wheelz ‘n Smoke’s event that celebrates women in car spinning, fittingly dubbed SPINderella.
The Kwa Mahlanga lady was introduced to the sport by uncles and friends four years ago, but only started participating this year.
The event is organised the Wheelz ‘n Smoke Company, which hosts weekly car spinning sessions on Thursdays on the South of Joburg. SPINderella takes place during a time when Women’s issues are under the spotlight, as it is Women’s Month and females such as Angela Beautyspot get scrutinized and looked at funny for their pure desire of wanting to spin cars.
“National Women’s Day draws attention to significant issues South African women still face, such as inequality in society, the workplace, politics, as well as in sports. The SPINderella programme is one of the many ways in which we aim to eradicate this issue of inequality, by representing women who still aren’t recognised in the motorsport space,” says Wheelz ‘n Smoke co-founder Ayanda Mbele.
One of Wheelz ‘n Smoke’s crowd favourites is Stacey Lee May who has been doing this for a number of years now. “Women such as Stacey Lee May, Tina Rossouw and Felicia Van Staden are pushing boundaries in spinning and making their mark. Therefore as leaders in the spinning industry, we want to celebrate these women who have contributed to the growth of female spinning and encourage more girls and women to take part in this growing extreme sport,” adds Mbele.
The event has the backing of Motorsports South Africa (MSA), the governing body of four-wheel motorsport; who also have a social responsibility commitment to improve the future of women in motorsport. Together with its sponsors and supporters, Wheelz ‘n Smoke hopes to raise awareness on the importance of women in motorsport and create a sports culture that facilitates and values their full participation.
The SPINderella event is set to take place tomorrow at the Wheelz ‘n Smoke Arena, from 12 pm till late.
Characters, the plot, the director and the cast are determents to a play’s presentation. Honesty from all these elements is what grips the audience.
The rectitude manner in which all these elements approached KHWEZI…Say (my) her name, helped introduce the real Fezekile Kuzwayo to the audience.
On Tuesday night I went out to go watch Napo Masheane’s much anticipated and talked about play which she wrote and directed, at the State Theatre in Pretoria. The decision was not regrettable.
You know when you’ve built trust with an artist’s virtuosity and their brand, whenever they present work to the world, you’re often inclined to receive the work well. Masheane has built that strong bond over the years with her audience. Her current work honours that relationship. Roping in Azah as musical director was a genius move, as the protégée of Dr Philip Tabane’s band Molombo, captured the story of Kuzwayo. It was distinctively African sounds, with strong jazz elements that gave the play a solid foundation for the narration to be told in the most gripping manner.
“…So I was called in after I had been exposed to the story through Kim and so forth,” said Azah. The music director ironically lived in the same area as Kuzwayo’s best friend Kim at some point, and knew her personally.
“The first song that was composed was Baba and I called her [Masheane] I sang it for her while she was driving and I was so excited. That for me was one of the amazing processes. There was another song, The Chant of The Burning, it was at rehearsals…I went out to the toilet and just as I was stepping out, then the song came and I had to run to him [Bhekumuzi Malhlangu, the pianist] to tell him to press the keys…”
Luyanda Sidiya’s choreography was gentle to the eye but moving enough to make you ponder on the message that’s being portrayed. The actors served their purpose and their singing was particularly highly emotional and good throughout. Actress Thokozile Ndimande who played various characters, including Leila who was Kuzwayo’s bodyguard, was one of the stand outs. Including Theresa Mojela and Madge Kola. JT Medupe played Jacob Zuma and was decent, but the character would’ve been stronger had his Zulu been steeped in that thick KZN accent. His lacking in speaking the language, kinda killed off that staunch Zulu-man aura and arrogance that Zuma has and showed during his court appearance.
Tuesday saw the whole cast and Masheane sit for a Q and A session with audience members to talk about the play for the first time since the it opened on the 25th of July.
“I judged her, I don’t wana lie, when the whole trial happened. I read the book, with regular pauses just to take-in what’s going on…when she [Masheane] told me I’ll be playing Kim, then Kim for me became the sister that you always cry to,” said Ntambo Rapatla. Rapatla got to meet the real life Kim, who came from the United Kingdom to watch the play.
“Playing this role gave me a chance to be exposed to what was going on. It also gave me a glimpse into Fekezile’s turmoil during that time. Ummm…and just thinking about many things that had gone through her head, the many things she felt, the betrayals constantly by people she loved and cared for- people who just didn’t believe her,” said Nompumelelo Mayiyane, who played the leading role of Kuzwayo. She played the character with aplomb, and not once did she switch off.
It was notable and quite refreshing how the play was narrated by her, throughout. From her upbringing in exile, to that eventful night where she was taken advantage of by former President Jacob Zuma. Audience members left the Arena Theatre with full comprehension of what Kuzwayo went through, especially times away from the public eye.
Sitting there, watching the play I was perplexed that I was witnessing a depiction of what really happened. That someone who was violated, was the one in hiding and being persecuted by the whole nation. “…No one has ever heard her voice. With other conversations I’ve had with her [Kuzwayo] spiritually,I thought it will be nice for the world to hear her, not hear me or any of us. All of us are just part of her story,” said Masheane.
Rape is a very sensitive issue and I was anxious to see how that scene between Zuma and Kuzwayo was going to be depicted in the play because with an audience largely made up of females, it’s inevitable that someone had experienced this ordeal. But the actual rape was creatively, wisely and beautifully portrayed using a striking red fabric. Mayiyane’s (Kuzwayo) wail after that scene when Medupe (Zuma) left the bedroom was one of the most heart-wrenching pieces of acting I’ve witnessed. Right there and then, I felt the weep of all those who’ve been raped.
A random count of the gender ratio on the night, was about 65% to 35% with women taking up the large number. I was rather disappointed that not a lot of men were present, as I believe men need to see the effect rape has on its victims- not to suggest that men don’t get raped by females or other men.
“As a young man, this work was quite important for me to support a woman in telling her story and for once keep quiet. It was important to be part of this process and be led by a woman, a strong woman like Ma Napo, so that Fezekile’s story could be told. I don’t know if you noticed, in the beginning the women are the ones carrying her coffin and at the end, the men are carrying it and for me, that’s what I learnt. It means it’s our responsibility because we are the problem. The rapist is the problem, as soon as the rapist stops raping, the problem is gone,” said actor Cassius Davids, who played multiple characters in the play.
ON a day the country celebrates Women’s Day, we wake up to the sad news of Pro Kid’s passing.
Linda ‘Pro Kid’ Mkhize died on Wednesday night from a severe seizure attack while at a friend’s plac. The paramedics are said to have attempted to revive the 37 year-old, but it had been too late.
Just last week, tributes were pouring in for another rap giant Ben Sharpa…now Pro Kid’s spirit is on the receiving end of these tributes.
Often juxtaposed to each other largely because of their monikers, Proverb wrote a touching message on his social media accounts. “Praying the news is not true, but if it is then my brother I wish you a safe passage into heaven. You were indeed a pioneer, a legend and once an incredible emcee. For the record I never considered you a ProKid but rather a ProKing!”
Maggz, who worked a lot with Pro in their early years in the game tweeted “A dark day-lost a brother, a friend, and a kindred spirit today, brutally heart-breaking. R.I.P Prokid.” One of the dopest songs the two laced was Celebrate which featured Sgebi. The two brought out the best in each other whenever they were on the same track.
While Stogie T summed up Pro’s travels in his career saying “From Le Club to Slaghuis to YFM to Soweto to Loxion Kulture to Backpack Rap to Gallo to IV League to TS Records to Dankie San to Rap Battles to the Charts to Superstardom to one of the best ever to do it. I am leaving a lot out. Horrible news.”
Whether a PR exercise or a genuine sympathetic message, but Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa also sent his condolences. “We’re deeply saddened by the tragic passing of lyrical genius, pioneering Hip Hop artist Linda Mkhize (ProKid). ProKid took rapping in African languages to great heights and he will go down as one of the greatest and most influential Hip Hop Artists of his generation.”
Pro leaves behind timeless music he released in his career that spanned for nearly 20 years. He released five albums; Heads & Tales, DNA, Dankie San, Snakes & Ladders and Continua. There are a number of rappers from ekasi, but Pro stands above the rest because he was able to make music, not just barrage listeners with comical punchlines with each line. A stellar artist who paved the way for this skrru skruu generation. He was second to none, whether spitting in his native language or dropping bars in his English, on beats by Dome. The last performance I got to see of the rapper was just weeks ago at Basha Uhuru.
The game changing rapper is survived by his parents, wife, three year-old daughter and his brothers. Details about his memorial service and funeral will be announced in the coming days as the family comes to terms with the sad news.
PEOPLE are erratic. A high school teacher that told Moribego Madubanya that she wouldn’t be able to crack it in the media industry, has now become one of her fans.
“She posted on my Facebook page saying that she’s proud of me when I got nominated at the radio awards. I felt like commenting, saying ‘but you remember what you told me…’ but I didn’t, I just said thank you. That for me means I can do anything if I put my mind to and that I should never ever listen to someone tell me that I can’t do anything,” says Madubanya.
Popularly known as Ribi…Madubanya is growing her name as one the country’s dedicated young female radio content producers. In just months of her joining Alex FM, Madubanya was nominated in the National Community Radio Week Awards in two categories, The Best Talk Show and Best documentary show. “That was a huge deal for me. It meant I was on the right track. A few months after that, I got nominated at the Liberty awards, for Best content producer,” she says.
Having arrived in Gauteng in 2014 to pursue her media interests, the 23 year-old did her three year course at Boston Media House where she got her Diploma. “At the same time, I was working for a local newspaper, Greater Alex. After I graduated I decided to do radio.”
She says she’ll never stop writing, as it is her first love- she still writes on her blog every Thursday. But she jumped at the opportunity to join Alex FM when, while working for a business magazine that didn’t stretch her creatively. “At the business magazine I felt like, I wasn’t allowed to be as creative as I want to be. I wanted something more challenging. So I came to Alex FM…I actually had been trying to come to Alex FM for a couple of times,” she says, bursting into laughter.
Thanks to an article she wrote on Greater Alex, which was read on air by 702 broadcaster John Robbie, when 702 had a partnership with the community radio station that saw Robbie co-host his show with the Alex FM breakfast show. “He read my article on Alex FM and 702 simultaneously, that’s when Alex FM management started taking me serious.”
With no radio experience to her name, Madubanya was thrown into the deep when management put her in the drive time show to produce that coveted slot. “There was no producer for that show and management said ‘here’s a vacancy let’s see what you can do’ and in less than a year I had three award nominations.”
Management was impressed by the young lady from Botlokwa in Limpopo. Now that she’s solidified her name as content producer, she’s getting familiar with being in front of the mic and camera. “I do go on air, once in a while as a stand-in. It’s something I’m definitely looking into, for the future…I’ll be more on air and in front of the camera as time goes,” she says.
She has also worked as a line producer for musical film, Go Getta. “I want to be a media mogul. I come from Botlokwa and not a many people from there are in the media industry.”
Madubanya recalls a time when she was in high school, during the holidays when she had a recorder with her and wanted to interview some of the kids in the village on the device but was barred from doing so by her late grandmother. “I feel like when you’re from the village, you’re kinda forced to shrink yourself and not be a big dreamer. She said I can’t use the recorder there because people will think I’m trying to be better than them. ”
Reluctantly, she tucked the recorder away. “I felt like I had to be apologetic about my dreams. I feel that’s wrong.” With the work she’s doing now, she’s laying the foundation for other kids where she comes from and also reaffirming their dreams.
As the country celebrates women’s month, Madubanya believes women are still being seen as sexual objects-she gets asked questions like ‘who did you sleep with’ whenever award nominations come her way. “In every industry, there’s still patriarchy.”