Blxckie

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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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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