MOST people get into thrifting because they honestly can’t afford the day’s fashion, so they take some vintage garments and tweak them here and there to get that drip. It’s a similar formula that Ntokozo Dladla used for his Queen Moraka T-shirts, but instead of using vintage attire he opted for a vintage character.
“Most of my friends had the vintage Rap Tour T-shirts and I really wanted one of my own but things on the financial side of my life were and are still all types of shaky,” Dladla tells me. So out of his need to fit in while simultaneously standing out, he came up with the idea to make his own T-shirt which would be more affordable than purchasing one.
“…I thought about making it about South African musicians, but there are already other street wear lines that have done this. It hit whilst I was thinking about gangster rap, that most of the rappers that told us stories of shoot outs, robberies, gang culture, etc. never even participated in such and all they were presenting to us as listeners was a character!!”
To Dladla, who’s also known as Danger, there’s no difference between Dr. Dre and Queen Moroka because they’re both fictional characters that he connected to while growing up in the streets of Vosloorus.
But like most darkies who grew up in the 90s traditionally watching Generations at 20:00 on Simunye We Are 1, you’d ask yourself why he chose to use Sophie Lichaba’s (formerly known as Ndaba) character, he could’ve gone for a Karabo Moroka, Julia Motene or Ntsiki Lukhele.
“I won’t lie, I found Karabo Moroka’s character too easy. Like she is definitely a crowd favourite and that comes with automatic success but even though Queen holds the same level of legendary stature, I feel like at the end of the original Generations run she became comic relief and her character could go weeks without showing up and it wouldn’t even effect the storyline. So I chose Queen because I have a warm place in my heart for the under dogs. Plus her whole vibe was about being glamorous which goes well with certain themes I want to play around with especially with clothing.”
The T’s have received good reception from people, with the likes of comedian Okay Wasabi and performer Fella Gucci spotted rocking one. They’re a limited edition. “My problem with most T-shirt brands is that they get one design that works and they just abuse it until we see Small Street put the final nail in the coffin, and I don’t want that I want to always have new ideas and let the old stay in the past,” the illustrator says.
The T’s are not under any fashion line, but him as a graphic designer. He sees the work as an addition to his portfolio work and merchandise. “My mentality now, is if I don’t have clients I’ll be my own client.”
PREVIOUSLY the local wine industry had its focus on the export market, but has in recent times recognised the local market as a significant player. The attitude towards wine and its consumption has drastically changed in South Africa in the last decade, especially among urban black people.
My supposition is backed by Dr. Carla Weightman’s 2018 research which focused on the perceptions of local consumers towards wine. The PhD graduate (in wine biotechnology) focused on two specific wine-consuming groups, urban black and white wine drinkers. In years gone by, the latter made up the majority of wine consumers in the urban jungles of the country, but thina abantu have become the leading consumers-accounting for 80% according to Weightman’s research.
But nothing demonstrates the urban black’s newfound relationship with the beautifully aging drink, like a 22 year-old African owning a brand of wine, purely from passion. He’s 26 years-old now, but Prince Moeng was that 22 year-old when he found Moeng Wines in 2015. “My first encounter was at corporate events and it was love at first sip. I started having wine with all my meals and trying different varietals with it. Then I would do food pairings. It got to a point where I tried a different bottle of wine every day. That is how I grew my love for wine and eventually had the idea of owning my own wine brand. That is when I started researching about the wine industry and the making of wine. I can’t say I grew up drinking wine as my parents were strict and them being pastors didn’t make my decision any easy,” says Moeng.
Four years in business now, the Moeng Wines is a self-distributed brand which has found its place at selected restaurants around Gauteng, while increasing its market presence through events and collaborations with corporates. “This means that people that want our wine can visit our website and order directly from there and the wine will be delivered. We also hand pick restaurants and wine bars that meet our standards to distribute our products,” shares Moeng.
Moeng didn’t want to disclose Moeng Wines’ demographics but his hosting of Wine Masterclasses at Mambisa’s monthly entrepreneurs gathering Startup Grind Tembisa, indicates that his brand grows in tandem with urban black people’s appreciation for wines.
The business was found in Mahikeng but is now based in Centurion. “Some of the challenges about running a winery include distribution, particularly with the high competition in the country. Being based in Gauteng also has its own challenges, with some of the key resources being based in Cape Town.”
Despite the adversities of business, Moeng has had the Deputy Minister of Small Business Department as a guest at their annual gala dinner and Moeng Wines has enjoyed the perks of product placement in the film She Is King.
He runs the brand with a small group of six but like any entrepreneur, he envisions expansion for his business. “We aim at being the premium wine of choice across the continent. We also look into introducing more young wine makers into the industry.”
Backpackers don’t get it confused, coz niggas is icy, it ain’t got nothing to do with the music.
Typically, if one were to be quizzed on which emcee dropped that line in a song, the most probable answer would be Lloyd Banks, The Game or a Fabolous, because of their fondness of ice-cold diamonds over their fingers and around their necks hanging like chandeliers. But that’s a line spat by J. Dilla in his track Make Em Envy.
Such is the deliberate and genuine contradiction of this genius producer, who will forever be known as a master sampler who gave our generation unimaginable sounds of Hip Hop, Soul and Jazz. The mention of his name will instantly have you thinking of classic albums such as Like Water For Chocolate by Common, Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and Slum Village’s Fantastic vol.2. Because of the purity and good moral standing of the music he made, people were quick to assume that if he wasn’t behind his MPC chopping beats, he was on the street alongside the Black Panther party preaching Black Nationalism and saluting every black man as his brother. But that wasn’t the case with the man whose real name was James Yancey.
“People put him in a category of what they think he’s like, but they don’t realise he was about his links. Dilla was always telling Madlib ‘man you gotta get your chain, I know a place that’ll do it…” said Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf in documentary.
We often forget that before artists come into their own, they are normal beings that live in an environment that influences how they see and engage with the world. Dilla grew up in the cold streets of Detroit, Michigan around regular niggas you’d find in the hood, who are normally seen as vanity slaves for their appreciation of the finer things in life.
Dilla met T3 and Baatin in high school and they formed what would be known as Slum Village. After releasing their debut album, Fantastic Vol.1 in 1997, the group was hailed as the new Tribe Called Quest – the torch bearers of conscious Hip Hop and all things soulful and Pan African. The comparison bothered Dilla, because Slum’s lyrics weren’t anything adjacent to the stuff Tribe rapped about.
“It was kinda fucked up because people put us in that category. I mean, you gotta listen to the lyrics of the shit. Niggas was talking about getting head from bitches. It was like a nigga from Native Tongues never woulda said that shit. I don’t know how to say it. It’s kinda fucked up because the audience we were trying to give to were actually people we hung around. Me, myself, I hung around regular ass Detroit cats. Not that backpack shit that people kept putting out there like that. I mean, I ain’t never carried no goddamn backpack. But like I said, I understand to a certain point. I guess that’s how the beats came off on some smooth type of shit,” Dilla once said in an interview.
The quote highlights Dilla’s realness to himself and who he is. Being compared to Tribe and the likes of De La Soul, he could’ve easily switched up and ditched the Detroit fella he grew up as, but he never did that. Instead, he chose to vent out his ignant nigga shit through his alter ego, Nigga Man. “…definitely an alter ego, he called him Nigga Man. He’ll start talking about the Range, the Dilla ‘A’ with the fifth wheel on the back…” said August Greene’s Karriem Riggins in the Still Shinning documentary. Dilla’s hood element came out when he stepped in the booth and when he wasn’t creating beats.
It is known that he’s by far the best producer of our time, but his persona is often shelved away as something that wasn’t truly J.Dillaesque. So as you bump your head to some of his most charming beats on this Dilla Month, just get to know the man behind the beat.
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”
“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.”
“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”
“MY MUSIC FIGHTS AGAINST THE SYSTEM THAT TEACHES TO LIVE AND DIE”
“ONE THING ABOUT MUSIC-WHEN IT HITS YOU, YOU FEEL NO PAIN”
“THE GOOD TIMES TODAY, ARE THE SAD THOUGHTS OF TOMORROW”
“HERB IS THE HEALING OF A NATION, ALCOHOL IS THE DESTRUCTION”
“THE BIGGEST COWARD OF A MAN IS TO AWAKEN THE LOVE OF A WOMAN WITHOUT INTENTION OF LOVING HER”
KABELO TSOAKO is convinced his 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 output, 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 nor 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 artists 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.