Braamfontein

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8min4950

Dance music’s purity of purpose is something to be admired. There is no confusion about its reason for being, no ostentation. It exist to get bodies rhythmically moving to its high tempo and hypnotic groove as it mesmerizes the psyche into ecstasy and synchronizes  our heart beats to its energetic bop. Which feels like freedom to the soul.

Muzi’s music also feels like freedom. Freedom from the negativity that clouds one’s perspective of the future, living in the Southern tip of Africa in the early 21st century. My first encounter with this urban Zulu’s music was after he electrified the crowd at the South African leg of the culture-vulturing Afro Punk festival in the new year of 2019 in Joburg.

I promptly went through his second album AFROViSiON after that related experience and then the album became a mainstay in my playlist to life.

AFROViSiON was implicitly an album about his struggles, laced with dance grooves which primarily employed catchy percussive progressions on attention grabbing synthetic chords and pads. What made the project unique was Muzi’s vocal texture, content and Zulufied model C cadence, which appealed to both the snotnose-Braamfontien arty coconut and the dusty Carvela-wearing mahlalela in Tembisa.

Crossover appeal is highly valued in the music industry, but usually limited to racial lines. In my not-so humble opinion, music that crosses over economic class is of a higher value, which is what Muzi’s music does so beautifully.

In his third offering, titled Zeno, Muzi maintains his masterful skills as a dance producer but in his lyrics one gets the distinct impression that the struggle is over.

Zeno tracklist. Photo by MUZI
Zeno tracklist. Photo by MUZI

In the Amapiano influenced pseudo love song Sondela, he drops a braggadocios mack on a shorty, making it clear that he is not intimidated by her social status or looks

Bangitshela ukuthi ungumpetha sondela ntombi

They tell me you are the shit girl!

I don’t give a fuck, come closer so we can get together.

A very loose translation…

Big boy now with the big dreams,

I see you in it, that’s a big dream…

Vans all day, I bet you know that.

I’m gonna be big, I bet you know that…

I Love how this dude exudes confidence through his music without coming across as arrogant or fake-humble. On Ngeke with Zithulele of BCUC, he attempts an acapella Zulu folk song, where urban ninjas are warned to rather step into the fighting circle to prove themselves as men. Instead of prancing around like peacocks thinking that they are better than the rest of the homies in a rural homestead, because that kind of behaviour could possibly lead to their families having to dress in black attire for a year mourning the death of their beloved son. That joint fills me up with a nostalgic yearning for my initiation ceremony where bitchass niggerisms were not tolerated, and heavy doses of toxic masculinity were indoctrinated into the impressionable minds of young men.

My favourite cut in the project has to be the more sombre Sunshine in which he relates his feelings about some sort of traumatic event that occurred in his life.

…Hoping all my blessing don’t go away,

I’m hoping the sun shines on me…

Ngisaba noku bheka isibuko, strangers in my room,

They didn’t take my life,

But it feels like I died that night,

Pushing away those I love,

Angazi kwenze njani,

but it feels like I died that night…

I strongly suspect that the ninja was a victim of crime as it is so often the case in South Africa. The feelings that arise from such an event are undoubtedly serious and persistent but what does not kill you should only make you stronger. Life in the concrete jungle follows the same as of nature. Only the strong survive.

In Untitled 45 and Nguni Landing any misgivings about Muzi’s ability to produce house music in the purest form without vocals, but just ‘head-banging-while-your-tongue-is sticking-out’ beats on dope melodies. In the easily accessible Mncane he features Samthing Soweto with no vocal input from Muzi. I feel if he can get the video out for this joint it will raise the album’s buzz to new levels.

This is an excellent album, listen to it if you consider yourself a music lover, if not. Then why bother reading this shit anyway?

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8min7110

In the spirit of the great Dapper Dan, young designer Mbulelo ‘Random’ Methula captures energy from his surroundings and manages to articulate it in clothing. While Dapper Dan’s garments were inspired by Harlem’s swagger and elegance, Methula’s clothes are palpable of Braamfontein’s hip and unconventionality.

In the 1980s Dapper Dan would make counterfeit garments of high-end brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton- no child, I’m not talking about the kinda stuff you’d spot in the Joburg CBD next to those infamous GANG tracksuits. Dapper made the already elegant brands, more sophisticated with the merging of the brands with his personal designs, which were worn by superstar athletes like Mike Tyson, drug kingpins and famous artists.

Better Than The Original
Dapper Dan gear worn by Bobby Brown and rapper Rakim. Photo by Better Than The Original

Methula, who is known as Random on the streets is stitching his name into the annals of fashion history, with his brand Random Clothing. “I’ve always enjoyed styling and customizing things. The Air Mbadada just happened to be one of the ideas I was serious enough to fully execute,” says Methula.

Imbadada are the traditional sandals made from tyres, synonymous with Zulu men. Their comfortability have grown the sandals’ popularity among various people, from all walks of life. Methula removed the sole of the Mbadada and replaced it, with that of a Nike Air Max sneaker. “This was as basic and as random as it sounds. But one day, I just looked at them both and dared myself to make one shoe out of both.”

The coming together. photo by Random Clothing
The coming together. photo by Random Clothing

“Growing up, I had always observed how most inner city Zulu men loved Nike products, and I say love because I would always see this in every Zulu hostel I’d ever been to.”

“So the vision was to incorporate products and a dress sense that will give birth to a newly fashion known as Air Mbadada.” The Air Mbadadas have been in existence for two years now and the look has matured with time, with Methula redesigning clothes synonymous with traditional Zulu men, such as colourful overalls and caps, and merged that with the Nike brand. “And all these are for me, works of art. Art that has been turned from an idea into a reality.”

Drippin' on that traditional gear. Photo by Random Clothing
Drippin’ in that traditional gear. Photo by Random Clothing

He’s a fan of designer Jeremy Scott’s work. “With Moschino and Adidas too. The late great Karl Lagerfeld I also have immense respect of…and [I] look-up to local designers such as Thula Sindi, Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu.”

Methula found Random Clothing in 2016 and says he’s taste in fashion was sparked by his mother. “From a very young age, I was fortunate to be exposed to the type of fashion she enjoyed- she’s a real stylish woman.” And it was his aunt who taught him how to sew- he’s been at it since 2014 but decided to take things more serious in 2016 to study fashion design at SewAfrica Fashion College.

Rapper A-Reece in that RANDOM CLOTHING. Photo by Random Clothing
Rapper A-Reece in that RANDOM CLOTHING. Photo by Random Clothing

Random Clothing has also designed T-shirts, hoodies and sweaters which have been worn by rappers. “Random Clothing has been fortunate enough to dress Frank Casino, Robin Third Floor, Flex Rabanyana and just recently Touchline.”

Flex wearing Random Clothing
Flexin’ that Random Clothing. Photo by Random Clothing

The clothing brand will only launch its website this October, but Methula has been doing his business through social media. “…Thus one is able to place an order via DM, for custormers based outside of Gauteng. Delivery services such as Aramex and Postnet are how we get their merchandise to them after having placed an order.”

Random Clothing.
sky blue jersey by Random Clothing
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4min5800

IT’S one thing to win an award deliberated over by a panel of industry experts, but it’s another to be chosen by the people. The significance of this is that, ordinary people go out of their way to vote for you because they genuinely believe and vibe with you, even the OGs.

“…The legendary Zubz telling me that my music is incredible and exactly what the game needs. He had a lot of praise for me, which was a shock considering I didn’t even think he had heard about me,” says Touchline.  The rapper was reflecting on a moment with OG emcee Zubz the last letter, at the SlikourOnLife Verse of the Year awards in Braamfontein last week. Touchline won the Hennessey People’s Choice Award, with 700 votes.

The Muthaland artist says he believed he could win, but didn’t think it would actually happen. “Fortunately I have manged to build a core fan base that holds me down in times like these. Plus, they really relate to 5Grand which is the song that got me the award. I can now attack some of the toughest situations knowing that they have got my back,” he says.

In a statement, awards founder Stogie T said “These awards were created to salute Hip Hop and to celebrate skill and the art form of MC’ing.”

Touchline’s storytelling is soaked in township syntax, delivered in great word play and hard-hitting lyrics. Because of his skill, he’s being compared to Pro Kid, especially after releasing the heartfelt The Procedure after Pro’s passing last year, where he rapped on the Uthini Ngo Pro beat.

This comparison can come with a lot of pressure for a young artist trying to certify his place in the game. “It’s only motivation, the only pressure is from me to hit the heights that I truly believe I can hit. The pressure is never external, being compared to my idol only validates me doing this for so many years.”

The award winner promises to release new music this year, he’s already released Celaukuthi which he did with DJ Citi Lytes.

The ceremony was attended by over a 100 Hip Hop heads in the industry such as Sabelo Mkhabela, Azizzar Mosupi, YFM’s DJ Sabby and MTV Base’s Sandile Ntshingila among the list attendees. Some of the night’s winners include Kid Tini, Kwesta and Laylizzy.

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13min3780

What simply began as a place where DJs could dictate the playlist, without the meddling of club owners, Kool Out has become a fully functioning movement and a tastemaker in its ten years of existence, without losing its essence.

Thing about tastemakers is that wherever they find themselves, they inevitably build a legion of followers because everything they do sticks like wax on a hairy back. Koolin In The City Concept Parties epitomise that in how they’ve changed the status quo of the spaces they’ve occupied. Speaking to Kool Out Creative Director DJ Akio Kawahito about their decade celebration, one grows a sense of awe for their organisational skills and the consistency they’ve upheld in nearly 400 shows.

“We were the biggest and most influential Hip Hop collective in the city, but we were still struggling to pay rent…”

In 2008, Hip Hop in Cape Town wasn’t blazing the trail as it had in the past, contributing to the paucity of an abode for the Hip Hop community in the city. “I remember going on Long Street and there wasn’t a single spot that really catered to the Hip Hop market,” says Akio. Eventually they managed to get a place to host their weekly Hip Hop events at a club, The Waiting Room. But because Hip Hop had no place at the so called white venue, they were offered the odd Wednesday nights. “This is crazy to think, because in 2018, The Waiting Room has become one of the most diverse venues in Cape Town and is synonymous with Hip Hop.”

Within six months, the club’s Wednesday night numbers were better than their weekend’s numbers.

The original Kool Out clique comprised of host MPRVS from LA while Falko, Just Be and Akio himself were the DJs. “MPRVS moved back to LA, Falko left to start another event called Classics and Just Be was basically bounced from the crew. A local rapper name Mingus took over hosting duties and Raiko became the second DJ.”

“Back in 2011, Braamfontein was nothing…Now that area is synonymous with Hip Hop and young black culture”

After three years, Kool Out had reached the ceiling in Cape Town with their parties. “We were the biggest and most influential Hip Hop collective in the city, but we were still struggling to pay rent. At this point, we had starting doing some international shows in Durban and Johannesburg so we were experiencing the other markets,” Akio says.

More than that, Akio says a rude awakening from a brand rep they were trying to build a business relationship with, triggered the move from eKapa. “He told me straight up, that Kool Out was a black party and the purchasing power of that demographic was low and not a target of the brand. He said if we did the exact same numbers and our crowd was coloured or white, we’d be killing it. If we wanted to truly make an impact and grow, we needed to move to Joburg.”

They found space at Kitcheners when they got to Joburg in 2011, but now this was before Braamfontein became a haven of the cool kids and their woke selves. And like they did in Cape Town, they created a pathway in the wilderness that the city was, at the time.

“A lot of people were territorial and didn’t want to support a party from Cape Town. One of the ways we broke into the scene was by putting Kitcheners on the map. Back in 2011, Braamfontein was nothing. There was literally one venue and one street light.”

“We again did an extensive venue search and decided on Kitcheners because it fit our requirements and more importantly, there wasn’t a single Hip Hop promoter doing events there. The owner was very much against Hip Hop, but eventually the parties kept getting bigger and bigger and other promoters within the genre starting copying us. Now that area is synonymous with Hip Hop and young black culture,” says Akio.

He says what makes them unique from other parties is their aspect of musicality. “We place DJs and their styles in specific time slots that match the vibe of the event. For example, on our rooftop, if you come early you won’t hear the DJ playing trap bangers at 4pm. We’ll have someone playing beats and chilled vibes progressing as the day turns into night. You’ll almost never hear the same song twice at a Kool Out.”

“I also think in terms of venues, we always choose a place that is an experience. We almost never use the same spot that is associated with another party.”

Kool Out is a Hip Hop party, but Akio appreciates other genres of music thus he created the Alchemy Festival avoiding to confuse the ardent Hip Hop heads who religiously attend the Koolin In The City Concept Parties. Organizing such an event had always been a dream of his. The three-day festival celebrates Neo-Soul, Funk, and Jazz among other styles of music. “There wasn’t really anyone else creating an inclusive scene for beats, future soul, etc… so we decided to create our own platform.”

The first one took place last year where Tom Misch and Mick Jenkins performed. While Anderson. Paak performed at their Cape Town event last year too, which is their biggest attended show to date.

It’ll be exactly three years ago on Saturday, when 27 year-old patron Lawrence Ledimo from the Vaal, tragically died after falling from seven flights of stairs, at the Koolin In The City Concept Parties in Joburg. Reason was celebrating his birthday on the night, but immediately after the tragedy, the event was shut down and venue cleared within 40 minutes. “It definitely stopped the momentum we were gaining at the time, but we don’t even care about that.”

“It was more of a moment of reflection to see our roles in people’s lives and how for the time that someone is at our event, they are trusting us with their well-being. We want to be as loyal to our guests as they are to us.”

Three day festival Basha Uhuru takes place this weekend from Thursday and it’s also happening in Joburg. Akio says he wasn’t aware of Basha when they planned for this Friday’s celebrations at Good Luck Bar in, Newtown. “Their [music] event is Saturday so it doesn’t really affect us. Also, we feel that the industry is big enough now to cater to two big events on any given night. There isn’t anyone in the game that we feel we are in competition with.”

HERE ARE 10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT KOOL OUT:

1.      Kool Out has brought out more international hip hop artists to South Africa than any other promoter. (Mobb Deep, Talib Kweli, Blu and Exile, Ras Kass, Mick Jenkins, just to name a few)

2.      Kool Out was the first promoter to bring Hip Hop to The Waiting Room and Kitcheners

3.      Kool Out Lounge (the original event) has been hosted in 5 cities in 3 countries.

4.      Kool Out events continue to keep the DJ culture alive by having DJs that play on turntables.

5.      The Anderson .Paak show in Cape Town was their highest attended event.

6.       The Alchemy Music Festival was Africa’s first urban producer based music festival

7.      Outside of their own events, Kool Out consults for some of South Africa’s biggest corporate brands and music events.

8.      Kool Out won the “King of Gauteng” award at the South African Hip Hop Awards in 2017.

9.      The Kool Out rooftop has hosted international artists such Skyzoo and Cappadonna (Wu-Tang)

10.  Koolin in the City rooftop event, happens the last Sunday of every month in downtown Johannesburg


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