Entertainment

Clement Gama04/01/2022
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“We never die, we multiply,” Riky Rick once said and there seems no better way to honour the man and his words, by the announcement that over 130 artists have committed themselves to performing at this year’s Cotton Fest.

Organisers of the festival announced through a statement the confirmed line-up yesterday for this year’s Cotton Fest which was postponed to April 23&24 following the untimely death of musician Rikhado ‘Riky Rick’ Makhado in February.

Taking place in central Johannesburg on one weekend, the festival will merge both well-known and young emerging South African artists over three stages. Some of the name on the line-up include 031 Choppa, Shane Esgle, 2Shoes, Priddy Ugly, 25K, A- Reece, Benny Chill, Stogie T, Big Zulu and Blxckie among the long list. The festival is set to be a very emotional and spirited one, with most artists most likely seeing this as their farewell to Riky.

The Man And His People :Riky Rick performing at Capsule festival. Photo by Sip The Snapper

It will also be a celebration of Riky’s life and his ideals. He was loved by the OGs in the game while new kids on the block were also fond of him because he showed his support and appreciation to new artists with their novel sounds.

“The high energy, entertainment-filled weekend will include various other lifestyle elements to keep all cotton eaters entertained,” read the statement. Some of the cool things cotton eaters can enjoy on site will be, a games area, a food court, a live skating competition, Cotton Fest X Puma customization station, a retail fashion “tuckshop” featuring Cotton Fest merch and other limited edition clothing items will be available for sale. Also there will be a half-court and live art to engage with on site.

In some way, Riky’s passing has accelerated Cotton Fest to being the number one Hip Hop festival in the land. We’re coming from more than a decade of Back to The City Hip Hop festival which takes place annually on April 27, Freedom day at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg. It’s still unknown whether there will be a BTTC this year, but should it happen you can imagine Hip Hop fans scratching their heads as to which of these gigs to attend. But a confirmed line-up of more than 130 acts makes the decision a pretty easy one.

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I couldn’t help but ponder on Perfect Hlongwane’s description of black joy, as Eskom’s blackout hit right in the middle of Malcom Jiyane and Nonku Phiri’s performance at the Joburg Theatre.

“There is laughter and there is festivity in the very pits of hell, because that is the only way to escape the searing licks of these flames, even if only briefly and in bursts whose volatility already gives an indication that they may not last,” the Culture Review‘s Associate Editor, Hlongwane said in describing the theme at last week’s Kulture Blues Festival.

The Uprize Ensemble which was performing on stage together, were the night’s last act. It was also the first time Jiyane played his much-admired album, Umdali. It was symbolic that the last song they performed before he lights were cut was, Sizwile. Nonku was just getting into performing her solo work went the theatre got blacked out. While a handful of people decided to leave as the organisers were re-connecting the sound to the generator, the rest of us were patient enough and watched the rest of the performance.

Phiri and Jiyane on stag together are a joy to watch. While Jiyane is the mad scientist dripping of sweat on keys, Phiri stationed under the blue lights she sorely asked for, was like a spiritual guide on her voice changer with her sound effects.

uPHIRI: Nonku performing at the Kulture Blues Festival at Joburg Theatre. Photo supplied
uPHIRI: Nonku performing at the Kulture Blues Festival at Joburg Theatre. Photo by Zivnai Matangi

They were supported by Lungile Kunene drums and The Brother Moves On’s Ayanda Zalekile on bass. The latter’s singing took everyone aback, even Nonku turned back pleasantly surprised, with a smile she asked “And then wena?”. You could see it, feel it and definitely hear the joy that Eskom tried to steal as we sat in the audience enjoying the talent on stage.

Before their performance was Gabi Motuba and Tumi Mogorosi alongside. Gabi looked elegant in her green dress and her natural hair in fine splendour. Her voice exudes the tranquillity one would experience in a view of Mpumalanga’s Three Rondavels on a quiet morning. Every South African deserves to at least experience her voice live. While Mogorosi doesn’t fight with the drums, but somehow caresses them with intent. Bokani Dyer on piano, Daliwonga Tsangela on cello, Dalisu Ndlazi on bass complimented each other and that too, was black joy in action.

THA ENSAMBLE (from L to R): Daliwonga Tsangela, Bokani Dyre,
THA ENSAMBLE (from L to R): Daliwonga Tsangela, Bokani Dyre, Dalisu Ndlazi, Gabi Motuba and Tumi Mogorosi. Photo by Zivanai Matangi

The day’s first performer was East London’s Luyolo Lenga, an eccentric artist with strong vocals. He opened his performance playing the Uhadi traditional instrument and then later played from his acoustic guitar. One would’ve liked to hear more of him playing Uhadi.

A common thread of the night was the artist’s complaints of the sound, which seemed to lie with the sound engineer of the day. While comedian Roni Modimola’s jokes left the handful audience cringing at times.

THA OPENING ACT: Luvuyo Lenga
THA OPENING ACT: Luvuyo Lenga. Photo by Zivanai Matangi

“It was a beautiful day. On and off the stage. Black love permeated the Joburg Theatre and when loadshedding hit us during Malcolm Jiyane/ Uprize Ensemble’s set, the spirits remained high and the musicians continued playing with high esteem, much to the adulation of the audience. It was a special night man,” says satisfied producer of the festival, Kulani Nkuna.

Clement Gama03/10/2022
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The Kulture Blues Festival returns for the second consecutive year, but instead of Tshwane, The Joburg Theatre will be the venue for this unique event by Culture Review magazine. This year’s instalment is themed Black Joy.

“Because Black resistance is also Black joy. Yes, there is laughter and there is festivity in the very pits of hell, because that is the only way to escape the searing licks of these flames, even if only briefly and in bursts whose volatility already gives an indication that they may not last; unless they recur repeatedly and without repentance,” says Culture Review Associate Editor, Perfect Hlongwane.

The festival’s name was inspired by a Putumayo compilation album titled African Blues. “That album was essentially the blues but in an African context and in our African languages. The Kulture part was taken from the name of our platform Culture Review and an attempt to pay homage to our particular type of sound,” even producer Kulani Nkuna says.

While last year’s edition took place in a space of two days at the State Theatre, this year will be a one-day affair. But this isn’t a downgrade of the talent nor quality, if anything, Nkuna and his team have put together a uniquely strong line-up.

Malcom Jiyane. Photo Supplied
Man Of Music: Malcom Jiyane

Malcolm Jiyane/ Uprize Ensemble, Tumi Mogorosi & Gabi Motuba, and Luyolo Lenga. The performance will take place on Saturday afternoon.

It will be the first time that Jiyane performs his globally acclaimed album, Umdali alongside the Uprize Ensemble which will feature vocalist, Nonku Phiri. Ever since inception, the Uprize Ensemble have never performed together live on stage. “Ever since I ever worked with Nonku Phiri on the Spaza project I fell in love with her voice her work and her gift of ART instantly,” Jiyane says of their upcoming performance at the Joburg Theatre.

Both Gabi Motuba and Tumi Mogorosi have consistently exuded a particular kind of intellectual rigour, in their approach to the music of our people, that has been truly impressive to follow. Their presence, therefore, at this year’s edition of the Kulture Blues Festival promises, not only a sonic feast for the devotees who will be in attendance, but really, an artistic experience supreme. They will be rendering offerings from their sonically astute collaboration album Sanctum/Sanctorium, exploring themes around the sacredness of family and Black communion. The band will take to the stage with the talents of Bokani Dyer on piano, Daliwonga Tsangela on cello, Dalisu Ndlazi on bass, Gabi Motuba on vocals and Tumi Mogorosi on drums.

Tumi Mogorosi (L) and Gabi Motuba. Photo supplied
Tumi Mogorosi (L) and Gabi Motuba. Photo supplied

Rounding off the gifts that the festival will offer is the enigmatic Luyolo Lenga, a transcendent artist whose presently-lowkey status really defies belief. To listen to his 16-track album Sabela, released in 2020, is to encounter an artist whose deep reverence for his Xhosa culture and African spirituality is drenched in exuberance and humility. His is a fusion style of music that pays homage to the isiXhosa language, accessing ancestral sounds from ancient bow and percussion instruments. He will perform from 2019’s Siphiwo Sam and Sabela projects.

The host on the day will be renowned comedian, Roni Modimola who many would know as Sidepocket from his skit on the iconic Pure Monate Show.

The show is made possible by support from the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy Programme.

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Awards and elections have this in common; not everyone who contests walks away victorious. But leading up to any elections or award season, one can make forecasts looking at the landscape.

That the ANC was going to lose its grip on a number of metros in the November 1 Local Government elections was predictable as Priddy Ugly’s Soil album being nominated in a slew of categories at this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards (SAHHA). Yet only the former became a reality as Priddy was surprisingly recognized in just one category in the nominations announced this week.

“Too many good albums were submitted and didn’t make the cut. If we’re looking for five albums, it becomes a numbers game and others will automatically fall short,” said Creative Director of the SAHHA Rashid Kay. He was responding to the absence of the Soil in the album of the year category. 25K’s Pheli Makaveli, Logan by Emtee, Costa Titch’s Made in Africa, B4Now by Blxckie and Big Zulu’s Ichwane Lenyoka are the shortlisted albums of the year.

The 10-track Soil is a good body of work that Priddy Ugly released in July, together with some absorbing visuals to help narrate his story. That this album wasn’t nominated is unfathomable- more so because local Hip Hop has been starved of a consistent album in the commercial space, where temporally hot singles and Amapiano are the order of the day.

“In a case of a tie, we then look at factual numbers from Radio Monitor for airplay, and Capasso for streams and digital sales. It’s not only Priddy Ugly’s album that didn’t make the cut, like Kwesta’s album, Yanga Chief’s album, Zakwe and Duncan’s album, and other dope dope albums that fell short with numbers,” said Rashid.

Creative Director of the SAHHA Rashid Kay. Photo by Rashid Kay
Creative Director of the SAHHA Rashid Kay. Photo by Rashid Kay

Priddy’s solitary nomination came in the form of Lyricist of The Year alongside LandmarQue, PdotO, YoungstaCPT and A-Reece. Similar to Priddy, none of LandmarQue’s EPs were nominated in the Mixtape of The Year category, yet he got the nod for his pen game. “You must realise that every category has a different criteria. With Lyricist of the Year, numbers don’t count but it’s strictly about lyricism, your pen game has to be on point,” Rashid said.

That these awards have been hosted consistently in the last decade is commendable. In celebrating its 10 anniversary, they’ve introduced the Artist of The Decade category where 16 Hip Hop acts were selected, which include AKA, Gigi Lamayne, Cassper Nyovest and K.O among others. “We’re looking for consistency, impact, and achievements within the past 10 years. You don’t necessarily have to have been in the game for 10 years but who fits that criteria in the past decade.”

Another new category is Best International Act where Drake and Ye were nominated together with the UK’s Little Simz, Sarkodie from Ghana and Botswana’s William Last KRM. It doesn’t make sense as to why you’d want to nominate artists from the Western world when they already have such global dominance. It would’ve been refreshing to shine the spotlight on Hip Hop on the continent to help grow the camaraderie among African Hip Hop heads if they limited the nominees to African acts. “If we wanted an African award, we were gonna call it “Best African Act,” was Rashid’s response.

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Tha actual Awards

Amapiano’s unquestionable domination has prompted questions about the strength of SA Hip Hop. “The “SA Hip Hop is Dead” narrative usually comes from people who are not part of the culture and don’t know the difference between Rap and Hip Hop,” said Rashid.  “Hip Hop has never relied on a song or an individual to be “alive”. The SAHHAs have been around for 10 years and they are not here to prove any point.”

This year’s awards are themed The Manifesto, as to coincide with the country’s current political climate. The awards will be streamed live on the third next month and be televised the following day on SABC 1.

You can view the list of all nominees here

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The presence of a loving father greatly increases a child’s chance of success, confidence, resilience, physical and mental well-being. According to community-based organization Shiloh Synergy,  South Africa has one of the highest rates of fatherlessness in the world. In 2017 Statistics SA General Household Survey indicated that a shocking 61.8% of children under the age of 18 live without their fathers. We need to better understand the impact of this disheartening social plight and its legacy on family life in contemporary society, which unfortunately impacts greatly on a boy child. These Are Not My Shoes is a theatre play written and directed by Mxolisi Masilela that addresses this social issue.

A shot from These Are Not My Shoes play. Photo by Nolwazi Mbli Mahlangu
A shot from These Are Not My Shoes play. Photo by Nolwazi Mbali Mahlangu

The play was staged at the Moses Molelekwa Arts Centre’s TX Theatre in Tembisa. It was delivered in a musical melodrama theatrical performance that captured all the essence of theatre production. The play explores and confronts the narrative of fatherhood and fatherlessness. It tells a story of a father’s love and the pleasant environment he had created for his wife and two sons. An environment that was created to mold their development and how they view the world. He persistently introduced discipline, in the form of routines concerned with his sons’ moral standing while grappling with his own demons. It is these unknown challenging points that changed him and led him to leave his family. His sudden departure did not only tear the family apart but left his sons confused, vulnerable, and overwhelmed. This mostly affected and challenged their ability to live a physically and emotionally fulfilling life. The hurdles also threatened the boys’ ability to live a competent life as youth causing irrefutable moral repercussions for the whole family.

The story is based on the Masilela’s real-life experience. He used theatre to highlight and interrogate this subject of parental love and abandonment as well as the traditional role of the African black man. The question is not posed in a disobedient manner, but it is used as means of drawing attention to the issue. It is also a way to engage and learn from each other about the prevailing cultural beliefs and systems of ideals and ideas of what it means to be a father.

EYE TO EYE: A scene from These Are Not My Shoes. Photo by Nolwazi Mbali Mahlangu

The play is used as means of moving forward- through looking back into the past and naming the current reality. A reminder to men to review and evaluate their lives so as to end the cycle of absent fathers. For them to became good examples of fathers or father figures that resist the set traditional role of authority and control and rather subscribe to more nurturing and non-violent forms of care.

The production directed by Masilela himself and managed by Kamogelo Raphadu had many aspects and detailed costumes, props, and technical parts such as sound and lighting managed by Sizwe Ndabana. The set design of the shanty house set the scene, bringing back memories and experiences of growing up in a township. Another aspect of the production that stood out is the stellar performance of the cast of actors consisting of Itumeleng Moeketse, Mongezi Mabunda, Thabang Chauke, and Tshwarelo Selolo. Their acting on the open,  displayed innocent and vigorous freedom, as well as a proud showcase of their craft. They delivered their lines characterized by multilingual dialogue, significant actions, and gestures that contributed to the play’s meaning. The actors were accompanied by dynamic vocals of music arrangement by Muzi Shili, Thulani Hlophe, Velile Mkhabela, and Hlabelela ensemble. Their music rooted in emotion had a powerful hand in bringing the story to life.

ALL THE PROPS: These Are Not My Shoes stage. Photo by Nolwazi Mbali Mahlangu

These Are Not My Shoes delivered a successful emotional and inspirational theatrical show. The staged drama and captivating performance with all the elements and complexities of theatre-making unpacked the issues and referenced realistically unimaginable raw and ragged scenes that highlight the trauma, frustration, anger, and anguish playing out in our communities.


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