KABELO TSOAKO is convinced he’s neighbours hate him. Nothing screams conviction like two EPs, unambiguously titled My Neighbours Hate Me.
“I make a lot of noise wherever I live. I can imagine how my neighbours feel,” Tsoako tells me. I can’t imagine the annoyance one would have to live through, having a music producer right next door constantly making music, often in ungodly times.
But I doubt the same “loathing” neighbours imagine that, their noisemaking makhi is one of the country’s most slept on musicians.
Being slept on is,when not a lot of people have heard your material but once they do, they’ll admit that you’re dope. Being underrated on the other hand, is when your material is out there and everybody sees you, but no one considers you dope enough to be in the top five or whatever, said a friend of mine differentiating the two.
Young, gifted artists who put in the work, are rarely celebrated which can trigger mental issues in some creatives. But it’s fruitful for one’s mental state, to learn to define self, outside of their art. “I’m probably depressed three or four times a week [laughs]…but you gotta soldier on bro. I also think this mental health thing affects every artist differently.I know I make nicer music when I’m down and it’s all about trusting the process,” the producer also known as KaeB tells me.
With material that can sit well on most urban radio stations around the world, KaeB has consistently released music, under the radar for a couple of years now. The young man from Tembisa is currently pushing his single, Crown featuring Parley Wang also from the 1632. Crown is on KaeB’s six track EP My Neighbours Hate Me II that came out earlier this year.
He’s been making music since high school days, but ever since his #Cozyfridays where he dropped a track, at the end of each working week, he’s shown growth in his music and consistency.
“…I used these releases to challenge myself to make a song in a week, come up with an artwork and drop it on Friday sort of like a drill. This helped me understand how to rollout a release. The record label/agency transition happened when I had to release a compilation tape for all the #CozyFridays and I kinda just setup my own label/agency,” says KaeB.
The Stay Cozy Group is his brainchild, but he has an external management agency for bookings and his day to day management.
Slept one as the fella is, KaeB is beginning to reap the rewards of his sweat and consistency. His bouncy track Right Now with ECHLN and EMAMKAY has been receiving warm reception from those who’ve been fortunate to hear the re-released song which he first posted on his Soundcloud in Feb this year . While just over a year ago, a track he produced C&L by Melo B Jones, was on the Kaya FM playlist-still is.
“People do like what I’m putting out; I run into people who always have positive feedback about the music. I also think being more visible on social media this year helped a lot and that’s how I connected with ECHLN to redo Right Now and put it out.”
To date he’s released three projects since his first release, the Ruh Tape in 2012. His sound has grown with the pace of pubic hair in adolescence and with the graceful evolution of a caterpillar to a butterfly. When I first came across his music, he was a Hip Hop head who cut samples that would give Boom Bap rappers wet dreams. That was in 2012. In 2016 he produced a song that warranted him airplay on Joe Kay’s show on Soulection. It was a remix of Justine Bieber’s All That Matters. They also play his music on electro music label based in Singapore, Dakerthanwax.
The evolution of his sound is a result of his maturity as a listener of music, who constantly forces himself out of any box.
The Beat Makers Market took place last month in Joburg, which KaeB didn’t attend or participate in. He never competes in beat making/producer competitions. “[Laughs] I peeped the ‘line-up’ and it was not my type of music. I’ve outgrown that style of music. I wouldn’t even enter such an event I’ll probably lose to someone who is currently making that type of style,” says KaeB.
Melodies and harmonies are a mainstay in all his music. Listening to the first My Neighbours Hate Me EP, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that dope lyrical rappers or any other artist could richly benefit from working with a producer like KaeB. Such collaborations would also dispel notions around beat making competitions which seem to be focus on just Boom-Bab beat makers.
On the same note, you will find that artist who get on these rich soulful, futuristic bouncy beats, do not do the music justice. The feeling of the song is often prioritised over its lyrical content. A balance is needed.
On his music making, KaeB says “The process varies with the mood but I always start with my drums and then I’ll add the melodies and harmonies. I’ve also made it a habit to add a hook, mostly me singing as an idea that I can build on later on.”
Hearing beautiful music come together is a joy. That’s the reason I don’t think KaeB’s neighbours hate him. In fact, the EPs probably should’ve been called I Think My Neighbours Hate Me, because quite frankly, no one from next door has complained to his face about the noise he makes.
· Apart from him, KaeB says these are some of the producers to keep an eye on in the near future. Sheeesh. Skinniez, Tsukudu, Ctea, Tweezy, Trust B1, Benny, Wichi1080 , Enkei, Sptmbr Yngstr, Daev Martian , ECHLN, Hi-Lux, Gina Jeanz, Ben Rasco, Broken Transient, Muzi, Vthevowel and Zuks.
“ONE thing about music when it hits you, you feel no pain,” sang the immortal Bob Marley. To perhaps add to that, if an artist’s live performance doesn’t hit you, you may find yourself eternally scared by that experience.
I’ve not been fortunate enough to witness folk singer Adelle Nqeto live, but I’ve already been hit by her recorded compositions. God willingly in just a few hours from now, she’ll break that ice. Her music is so calming, that the imagery of her breaking anything is absurd.
The singer from Pretoria performs in Tembisa’s 4ROOM Creative Village this evening, as part of her national tour which has seen her travel more than three provinces. In each province, she consciously plays at small, intimate spaces which accommodate her music leaving onlookers with that fuzzy feeling inside. “This will be our second time playing in Tembisa, and we’re looking forward to it. Our bass player couldn’t join us last time around, so it’ll be great to play again as a trio. We had such as warm reception last time- we knew we wanted to come back,” Nqeto tells me.
In September she returned to the country after playing Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. It wasn’t her first time gigging in Europe, “but it was my first time with my band though,” she says.
“…we’ve had great responses most places we play. I suppose there’s something novel about us when we play in Europe, being from the African continent, and we’ve had especially great responses over there.”
Some of the things she dabbles in while travelling, is try out different foods. “I also like to know the history of the place, as well as the art, so I do read up about that too, or check out museums and galleries.”
Apropos the band she keeps mentioning? It’s two fellas, drummer James Robb and Dylan du Toit who plays bass. She’s an ardent soloist who understands that being alone, is as valuable to her art as collaborating. “I’d like to be as versatile as possible, depending on the show. I still do play solo, but I especially love to have James and Dylan around, so the three of us have become the core for now,” Nqeto puts it to me.
Her vocal control is unassuming; it has an innocent fierceness to it. She’s the fine epitome that big things do come in small packages. But she’s had no formal voice training at any institutions, but with simplicity says she’s just been singing all her life and “learned a lot along the way. I’ve had few vocal lessons-to hone in on technique, but mostly, I’ve learnt a lot through experience.”
First time I heard her voice, I thought Soundcloud had made a mistake with her name, I expected the vocalist singing on her debut album Lights, to be a Caucasian female. I’m just another statistic, as other people too were gobsmacked by her race. “There are some interesting assumptions about my race, which are always great conversation starters,” she says.
There aren’t any songs sang in vernac in her album, but says she can and does write in isiXhosa. “I have reworked a song I wrote in French into isiXhosa that I’ve played for a French project I join every now and then, and have written some songs in isiXhosa that haven’t yet seen the light of day.”
She has a cocktail of musical influences, from Miriam Makeba, Ella Fitzgerald, Mango Groove, Ray Charles-all of whom she grew up listening to, added with the alternative music of Radiohead, Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens.
Last year she released her heart-warming and soul reviving album, Lights. The ditties in there have a sense of one who has overcome demons and realised the light inside themselves and those around them. A bit like those sisters that have just taken up Yoga, using Namaste as their only pleasantry.
“The songs on Lights were written over a few years, with some difficult periods of course. I wasn’t going through a difficult time when I wrote Lights [the song], specifically, I was looking back at the bitter-sweet end of a relationship.”
They are headed to studio for a follow up to that album, which could be expected early next year she says.
TIME and time again we hear the story of the struggling artist, but what’s never talked about is their purpose of going through that struggle.
What’s this dream which makes one put on blinkers and focus on this lifelong mission? For playwright Menzi Mkhwane, the answer is building a sustainable theatre company.
“No one has built a black audience for theatre. I mean a black paying audience. I could list so many external problems such as, comedy for instance gets more support more so than theatre and so does poetry. But internally. I will say I have only began concentrating my efforts into offering consistent entertainment which is plotted on a calendar stretching all the way to November next year. I have a five year plan of how we plan to take over Durban with theatre so in a nut shell people will warm up to me,” Mkhwane confidently tells me.
An actor of eight years now, Mkhwane has seen enough in the industry to stir up his passion and desire to create something bigger than himself, from the bottom up. He was part of musical theatre Twist which travelled to Holland and Belgium late 2010 and early 2011. He made his debut with his poppa, celebrated actor Bheki Mkhwane in the production Belly of The Beast.
While in 2016 he won the Best Newcomer award at the Naledi Awards– this was for his portrayal of Sponono in the play A Voice I. Currently, he’s working with young artists who have great potential simultaneously sharpening his skill as a director and an all round playwright.
“People know more about Tira than they do about Menzi Mkhawane’s Master Classes. And I get it. This is why I am closing that gap,” Menzi Mkhwane
Last month he was overseeing a one woman comedy play Babazile, written by Aphiwe Namba starring Penny Ngayo, at the Bat Centre. Babazile tells the story of a lady who sits behind her stall in the market talking to customers about a number of things from Ben 10s and takes you right up to the pulpit of corrupt pastors. Namba asked for Mkhwane to direct the play, to which he jumped at the opportunity of directing his fourth project. “Aphiwe has something that everyone who thinks and desires to be writers has – the natural and tremendous natural flair of writing. Aphiwe can go away for a week and come back with a solid script.”
The play struggled to put bums on seats, as a measly five people attended on opening night. “These are friends including one of my friends Jayshree who is one of the main presenters at East Coast Radio. People received the show pretty well considering that this is my first comedy ever. It was hilarious and doing it with an actress who is only 22 years old and still in training stretched it even further,” Mkhwane says.
“I understand that what I am building which is a life time sustainable theatre company from the ground up is not a short term goal. So in essence it will take a long time, a couple of more shows down the line before I build a solid audience. I’ve been in the industry of theatre and performing for almost ten years now. Not a long time but not short either. In that time I have ‘studied the game’. And from what I have gathered there is no one building an audience of young black people under concentrated efforts in a company setting. I might be the first to do it in this way in the whole country.”
His foresight and ultimate vision allow for the artist’s optimism to freely roam his psyche, despite encounters on his journey. “Do I want to quit when struggles hit me? Without a doubt. But my reaction to those adversities has matured. I’m building a company…building a house that will revive theatre in Durban which is dying a slow death. No one else is a role model. I’m modelling the role for myself. So I never get surprised when extreme challenges new to other people hit me hard.”
Working with young people who don’t have a strong pull to get enough audiences could also contribute to the reason for the paucity of theatre goers in Durban. But Mkhawane believes in the young talent so much, he doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. He believes casinos are the perfect place for Babazile, he’s earmarked Izulu Theatre inside the Isibaya Casino as a platform to try.
“It’s hard to weigh the reaction of a city that hasn’t been offered consistent black theatre around the clock from all types of genres in theatre. The fact is no one is doing that. People know more about Tira than they do about Menzi Mkhawane’s Master Classes. And I get it. This is why I am closing that gap. I’m smart enough. Infact intelligent enough. Experienced enough. Influential enough. Young enough in terms of energy to drive. And just in the right head space to offer Durban audiences better theatre from black producers. So the answer is broad. They haven’t been given great quality and nothing has been communicated to them enticingly enough for them. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and through my growing influence on social media I’m offering all of that in growing degrees of perfected execution. We still make mistakes and learn.”
Currently Mkhwane is co-director together with award winning director and writer, Samson Mlambo on a play Shoe Man that opens in two weeks at Bat Centre. It stars Anele Nene, who depicts all the characters in the story.
WHAT started out as a simple live performance sessions on the internet just over a year ago, has now become a staple on South African television. Last night saw the television debut of JR’s Feel Good Live Sessions on MTV Base.
Feel Live Good Sessions is a live performance platform founded by artist JR. The first episode was released last year in April, with JR himself as the first performer on the stage. He started the sessions to create a bridge between the studio and the stage.
Busiswa was the featured artist on the TV debut last night. The Fell Good Live Sessions have broadcast over 20 artists on their YouTube channel, including Reason, Samthing Soweto, Shekhinah and A-Reece among the long list of performers.
JR received a lot of love from industry persons on the big move. “Congrats Papito,” said Refiloe Ramogase, who is the GM and Director at Sony Music Entertainment. Even narcissistic beast AKA showed JR love in a Tweet saying “Congratulation @JRafrika on the debut of #FeelGoodLiveSessions on TV…I know you and your team work extremely hard to make this a reality. Proud of you bro.”
While some people thought the move could’ve been better at the public broadcaster. “I have a feeling #FeelGoodLiveSessions was gonna do well on @SABC_2,”said one Cyegolicious. Poor girl probably just wants Afro Café canned.
The show will be broadcast every Thursday evening on MTV Base.
There’s nothing worse than planning an outfit in your head and realizing that the key component of your outfit looks like you just came from digging graves.
Call them what you will, whether it’s iBathu, Kicks, iSpova or whether it’s the classic Takkies. We all love our shoes and let’s admit it, keeping them clean isn’t the easiest thing to do.
It’s a matter of how time consuming the effort of washing them is. But with the new age aesthetic that come with shoes there’s techniques and products that comes with keeping your kicks fresh.
Enter Drop Shoe, the future of premium footwear hygiene. Founded in 2017 by Lethabo Komane in Tembisa, after having washed his older brother’s sneakers over the years and developing a clientele with his brother’s friends Komane saw a gap in an already existing market. Thus Drop Shoes was born and has since grown from strength to strength with only under 2 years in existence.
With limited resources, his passion for business and together with his homies Smash, Banele and Tebza footwear hygiene in Tembisa found a home in Drop Shoe. The guys have really changed the narrative of self employment in the township by not only employing guys from their community but also having young interns during school holidays to teach entrepreneurship to teens.
Drop Shoe has since grown from just a sneaker cleaning outlet to a premium clientele service provider at an affordable price. With the most beautiful and friendly service that makes you feel at home and at ease with leaving your kicks. They also offer shoe repair, backpack and cap washing. With their impeccable work ethic and professionalism Drop Shoe‘s growth potential is exponential. So show your support to the homies and enter them at parties with fresh clean kicks.