Back To The City

DSC_0051-1280x853.jpg
8min4121

In light of how the Coronavirus has gripped most of the globe, it’s more than understandable why people are being bullied by panic, anxiety and a legit sense of unease when they think of the ramifications of this outbreak. But Back To The City festival founder and organiser Osmic Menoe sees the glass half-full, despite being forced to postpone the annual Freedom Day festival to October this year.

Okamalumekoolkat performing on the Redbull stage at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane
Okamalumekoolkat performing on the Redbull stage at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane

“We had already bought [plane] tickets for the international artists, we had paid the security companies. We do our wristbands in China, so that was already paid for. There’s a project we’ve been working on, we’ve printed CDs and vinyl’s in America…there’s a sizable amount of money already that’s been spent, but the beauty about it is that none of it is a loss because all we just had to do was shift things you know, because these are suppliers we’ve always been working with,” Osmic tells Tha Bravado.

“All we had to do, was to say ‘look, just shift delivery to a later date. Security companies we’ve already paid you, instead of rendering the services in April, you now rendering the services in October’ and another blessing in disguise is that, six month later is another festival-it’s another Back to The City for 2021, so it also enabled us to renegotiate certain contracts and certain deals…and a month later [after October] is the Hip Hop Awards. That also assists in terms of renegotiating things. Yes, there’s money that’s been lost but at the same time, shit happens man.”

Ritual Media, which Osmic owns is behind BTTC, the South African Hip Hop Awards and the South African Hip Hop Museum.  Drudgery is probably not the word to describe the work Ritual Media staff will go through, but they’ll be breaking their sweat in the next 12 months, looking at the proximity of their projects.

For over a decade thousands of youth have religiously gathered in Johannesburg’s Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, to celebrate Freedom Day through Hip Hop. In what was supposed to be the 14th installment of the Back to The City International Hip Hop festival in a few weeks, will now take place on October 10th.

“Obviously we looked at the month of September, we thought there’s Heritage day which is the 24th possibly a lot of people will be doing stuff then. We obviously looked at June and we thought to ourselves chances are, the lockdown might either still be in effect or coming to an end. So for us, seven months away from the said date made a little bit more sense, because number one we’re able to spread messages about our new change and number two, we’re able to make sure that we’re in a safe zone.” October 10th also happens to be World Mental Heal Day.

The festival’s purpose is to celebrate Hip-Hop and youth culture through an afternoon/evening of live performances, graffiti and exhibitions with the aim of bringing the youth back to the city, in Joburg. The show features artists representing different corners of South African Hip Hop. This unique youth event is a first of its kind in South Africa. The showcase is always full of activities such as a mini educational Summit, live performances, skateboarding, BMXing, live graffiti art, merchandising and exhibitions, all under the bridge at the corners of Henry Nxumalo and Bree streets.

A skater at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane
CAPTURED ONA BOARD: A skater at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane

This year’s BTTC was understood to be the penultimate after Osmic announced that end of the festival’s run a few years ago. There was incontestable conviction about the festival not ever happening, with fans even being sold end of day ticket packages until a beverage broke the thirst. “Hennessy is now our official naming partner, hence the festival is called Hennessy Back To The City International Hip Hop festival. We’re joined at the hip for the next coming three years. For the fact that we’ve got someone [Hennessy] who believes in culture and whose been in culture for so long. It’s also something very new for them to partner with something that’s very large scale, you it’s an exclusive brand. It just goes to show how much they believe in African Hip Hop”

FB_IMG_15555059534700489.jpg
7min16961

LAST YEAR’S OPPIKOPPI was a crime scene. And like any other misconduct, the black man is the suspect, but this time it’s him and his music that are to blame for ruining the vibes at long-running festival OppiKoppi. Or at least indirectly.

“Stop trying to cater for everyone. Keep [it] at a targeted audience. Don’t fix what isn’t broken…Oppi was and should stay a Rock festival,” said Marina van der Walt on Facebook.

Despondency came over hippies across South Africa last week when it was announced that this year’s installment of the OppiKoppi music festival has been postponed due to the ridiculous high rate of crime in 2018. The festival has fallen victim to a syndicate of pickpockets that have rampaged South African music events over the last two to three years. From Hip Hop festival Back To The City to the annual youth month celebrations at Basha Uhuru where I was personally a victim of pickpocketing- it’s become a headache for most South African event organisers.

Founded in 1994, OppiKoppi started out as an Afrikaans indie/folk Rock festival attended by a few hundreds of Caucasians from different parts of the country, in a small bar. The line-up would be dominated by alternative Afrikaans Rock artists who were in line with the Voëlvry Movement, which was an Afrikaans movement that sang anti-apartheid songs in that language in the late 80s and early 90s. The kinda boere that would chuck away Die Beeld for Vrye Weekblad.

OppiKoppi has substantially grown over the years attracting alternative African artists, who together came with a bigger and a more diverse audience. The site of Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela and Zim Ngqawana sharing the stage with the likes of Karen Zoid and David Kramer did not make long-standing patrons uncomfortable. It’s the introduction of mainstream African acts such as Afro-Pop trio Malaika, HHP and AKA that left a bitter taste on most people.

“Somehow the Voëlvry Movement that started all of this has been forgotten in the static. OppiKoppi is a living creature born through the wail of the electric guitar man. You can’t change the nature of the beast. You want AKA? You want Cassper? You want all that Hip Hop?  Then a new festival must be born that shakes to that rhythm. Why do you want to force the spirit of Rock ‘n Roll to be untrue to itself?” asked Ni-Lou Breytenbach on Facebook, responding to Oppi’s statement of postponement.

Speaking to Tha Bravado, Theresho Selesho who is the CEO of Matchbox Live which organises OppiKoppi, doesn’t think the festival’s growth has also been its Achilles heel. “The Festival has always been about freedom and fostered a safe environment where people can be free to connect, discover new acts, genres and have a great time out in the bushveld, which is a precious experience. We strongly condemn racism, sexism or any other form of discrimination at OppiKoppi. We are very happy with the strides that the festival has made over the years where a diverse audience can all enjoy OppiKoppi.”

But this amalgamation of cultures hasn’t been enjoyed by everyone though. “OppiKoppi has sold out for 20 years running before they took over. Still, the response is ‘genre diversity is something we have always welcomed’ their historical cult-like following is based on a Rock festival, not genre diversity,” said Peet van Wyk.

Over 80 cell phones were reported stolen last year, with items in people’s tents and cars taken, it’s by grace that no sexual assault was reported at the festival. “The crime incidences and stats nearly doubled in the previous year,” Selesho says. “This has in turn taken a lot of freedoms away from our fans and the safety of our audience and their belongings is our main priority.”

Selesho and his team have promised a return of Oppi next year, giving them sufficient time to find ways of guaranteeing people’s safety at the festival. Whether that’ll mean no Hip Hop or even House act, it shall be seen on the 25th chapter of OppiKoppi next year.

Clement Gama01/16/2019
IMG-20181128-WA0009.jpg
5min2220

IN A move that was expected in at least three years, Riky Rick has heeded the call for a big scale event that will take over from Hip Hop festival Back To The City after Ritual Media announced last year that the international festival would come to an end in 2021.

Social media was flooded with news of Riky Rick’s curated music festival next month which is to celebrate music and fashion, as he released a line-up of South African Hip Hop acts who are established and those who aren’t in the mainstream.

“Mainly set to showcase the diversity while fusing the gaps within various Hip Hop sounds and local movements, the Cotton Fest will not only bring together and unite over 80 unique acts divided over two stages, but will celebrate fashion in its various spheres,” read the statement.

The long list of performers and the space for fashion is very much similar to what BTTC did for over a decade now on every Freedom Day. BTTC was founded by Osmic Menoe and Dominique Soma in 2007 and has been an institution of the Hip Hop culture in its entirety. With B-Boys, Graffiti artists, fashion designers, skaters and ballers-everyone involved in the culture was catered for.

But a lot of dissatisfaction from fans with BTTC was with how Osmic and his team never brought an international act which was current and popular among with the youth, i.e a GoldLink or Mick Jenkins. In an interview in 2014, when they had brought old school rapper Jeru The Damaja to the country, Osmic the founder of Ritual Media said the reason for bringing old school kats was a way of giving the old heads in attendance something to enjoy as well, as the line-up is dominated by new generation of emcees.

Osmic speaking at Ben Sharpa’s memorial service. By Sip The Snapper

It’s to be seen whether the Cotton Fest has observed that plea from the people to not bring has-been artists to South Africa. There will be a surprise act on the day; whether that act is an international performer or not, it will be seen on February second.

The inaugural BTTC was held on the corner of Bree and Henry Nxumalo Streets under the bridge, attracting 3500 people and has grown over the years to numbers above 20 000 and is hosted at Mary Fitzgerald Square.

The Cotton Fest will be hosted at The Station near Nelson Mandela Bridge and the one-priced tickets will be limited to only 5000 attendees. Just like BTTC, one can foresee Cotton Fest growing in numbers and heading to Mary Fitzgerald Square in a few years, which will complete the transition of the guard in Newtown and Hip Hop.

 


About us

We’ll Not Change The World Ourselves. But We’ll Spark The Minds That Do.
Read More

CONTACT US




Newsletter





I'm not a robot
View our Privacy Policy