HHP

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7min16251

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.

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8min1330

BY definition, a milestone is; 1. A stone of a kind that use to be fixed beside a road, to mark the distance between towns; 2. A significant stage or event in the development of something.

The latter is where we’re at. So nominees of the seventh annual South African Hip Hop Awards were publicised exactly a week ago.

There were a couple of eyebrow-raising names, or the lack of, such as AKA in any of the categories- he decided to snub SAHHA because as he put it “I no longer submit for award shows because I no longer believe in the concept of awards”. Ironically there is the return of Nasty C, with eight nominations, after choosing not to submit any of his music last year. Zakwe, Kwesta, Da L.E.S and Cassper Nyovest are the other leading nominees.

Founded by Sowetan Osmic Menoe, the SAHHA have upheld consistency for seven years now. Ritual Media’s dependability should be noted-we had HYPE Magazine Hip Hop Awards that fizzled in the past. Regardless of the winners of the night, one always leaves the SAHHA with more discernment of the South African Hip Hop landscape. They put a spotlight on people you’ve never heard of, from provinces afar, who love Hip Hop with the same passion of a Hip Hop head in Brooklyn. This whilst celebrating past and present leaders of the game.

But one guy who gets nauseating love from SAHHA, is Cassper Nyovest. For the fourth consecutive year, Cassper is the recipient of the Milestone award at this year’s SAHHA. The Mahikeng rapper is a hard working kat that could and should never, be juxtaposed to any of the fellas nominated in the best Lyricist category because he is not one. You could argue that he’s an artist, who found a way to manipulate the game in ways that many never imagined.

At HHP’s memorial service, he said the deceased foresaw his stardom. While HHP’s hype man, Nyovest would nag the OG to sign him, but Jabulani Tsambo would turn him down because he thought Cassper could and should make it alone. “He said I’m not an artist that should be signed, I could be a business man and should be as big as Lil Wayne,” said Cassper.

Unlike the late Tsambo, I would liken Nyovest with MC Hammer. The latter is considered the first mainstream rapper who had a financially rewarding career, by pushing boundaries and being smart enough to use gimmicks and other things around his music. Unfortunately Hammer was a spendthrift, which was one of the reasons for his disgraced fade. I don’t foresee Nyovest in those sort of troubles, especially because he’s an independent artist.

His filling of The Dome in 2015,the inaugural Fill Up concert, will forever be etched on the history of South African music. Prior to this he used his ponytail and beef with AKA as gimmicks to push sales, but Fill Up gave opportunity for Cassper to display his ruthless marketing skills.It was a success- success which swelled his ambition to turn a once-off concert to an annual event. Three years down the line, Nyovest has filled Orlando Stadium, FNB stadium and is currently fiery than a campaigning student activist, as he attempts to fill up Moses Mabhida stadium. He will have that beauty in Durban to capacity, come December first.

The dude is in his moment, and you can’t front on that. Now as much as these are great feats, do they warrant him the Milestone award for four consecutive years at the SAHHA?

Are we saying that should Cassper, as I expect, go throughout the country and possibly various parts of the continent filling other stadia, be given this award until he runs out of breath? This is not about Cassper. Let the black man get his bag while he still can. But he can’t be awarded for repeatedly doing the same thing, just at different venues. The novelty of Fill Up died after his concert at the Dome ended that night in 2015.

It’s just not logical for the awards to continue on this trajectory, with the Milestone award in particular. For the safety of not sounding like an advocate for anyone, but the country’s Hip Hop, I will not even suggest who besides Cassper, deserved the Milestone award in the last few years. But take my word, there are people who’ve put in work deserving of a Milestone award. Osmic didn’t respond to questions surrounding the award.

This ruins the awards’ credibility with the fans and artists alike. It could be the reasons why artists sometimes choose not to participate, with the fear of headlines that read “SO AND SO LEFT THE REST STUNNED AFTER SCOOPING ALL THE NIGHT’S AWARDS ” as to suggest that one’s music or work isn’t good enough nor appreciated by the masses because of a gong.

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8min1880

THE face of relief I had, standing in front of the urinal turned into bewilderment while in the lavatory of a pub this past weekend.

Thanks to aggressive marketing, which has advertisements in our faces even when we’re having a moment with our bodies. What had me confused was the flyer of the Tembisa Jazz festival.

From the artists on the line-up, it would’ve been better to name it an Afro-soul festival. Sjava, Zahara and Selaelo Selota are the main acts on the bill. Only the latter is a jazz artist. Sjava and Zahara are as far from being jazz artists as Joburg is to Abuja, by foot.

Understand this, this isn’t about the artists but event organisers who come up with these shows which disguise themselves as festivals. This isn’t a unique problem to the Ekurhuleni Township; there was a similar and more cringing case in Soweto during the youth month at the splendid Soweto Theatre.

Dubbed the Soweto Jazz International Festival, their line-up included the likes of rapper Nasty C, Sho Madjozi, Deborah Cox, Lady Zamar and Mi Casa.

Let that sink in.

Is this a case of the suits calling all the shots, instead of having knowledgeable individuals in these crucial positions? What puzzles me is why there’s this incessant obsession with jazz, when what you’re presenting to attendees ain’t jazz. It’s blatant misleading of patrons who actually appreciate jazz, but more than that it’s an unfathomable mind fuck on black people in the township who walk out of those events really believing that Loliwe is a jazz joint. Like how many people still think Kenny G is a jazz artist.

But in the defence of these kasi events, I also blame the inevitable growth of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. What started out strictly as a jazz festival in 2000 under the name North Sea Jazz Festival- for five years, the festival was known by that name as part of the contract between the Netherlands festival and local events management company espAfrika.

From 2005 onwards, not only did the name change to what we know today as Cape Town International Jazz Festival, so too have the artists we saw on the bill. Artists who aren’t jazz kats, but whose music has elements of jazz that satisfy the genre’s aficionados like a 340ml, crept into the line-up.

As the festival grew, it was clear that it was morphing into a music festival for pure songs lovers- the BLK JKS, HHP, Zola, Louie Vega and many more other random artists have performed at the Cape Town event, even Lauryn Hill. But with their growth, the festival somehow manages to keep ardent jazz listeners satisfied each year, with a line-up that prioritizes jazz.

The Joy of Jazz still maintains its status as purely jazz festival, but over the years they have bent the rules, in a slick manner. Vocalist Bilal is one of their headline acts for this weekend’s instalment of the festival- but Bilal’s vocal dexterity just doesn’t permit you to box him anywhere, which allows the festival to get away with having him on the line-up. I was in the audience with former President Thabo Mbeki, enjoying music by Gregory Porter in 2014- he too, Porter not Mbeki, is one you can’t box. But in the same year, they had Billie Ocean on the line-up, which is the equivalent of having R. Kelly at a jazz festival.

As a millennial I know very well that the world is no longer as black and white as many people thought. There isn’t a person who is interested in the same thing, all the time. Human beings’ personalities have become more nuanced with time, largely due to the advancement of technology which exposes people to more than what is in their little village.

So the same person from Seshego in Polokwane who enjoys listening to Phuzekhemisi, also happens to be a fan of Mcoy Mrubata and knows Pharoahe Monch’s lyrics back-to-back. Having said that, organisers shouldn’t be thoughtless when naming festivals, in the name of pulling in a certain LSM- this is derived from the stigma around jazz which suggests that, the only people who enjoy the genre are the wealthy and sophisticated. There are many people in the swankiest places in our country who are ardent listeners of Zahara and Lady Zamar.

If your event doesn’t have a slew of jazz artists, don’t name it a jazz festival because it’s not, otherwise you’ll have us peeing on ourselves thanks to the shocking line-ups you have at these gigs.

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16min3380

As comfortable as Michael Knight is with and in his ride Kitt, so is artist Ludomo Maqabuka with his jalopy.  His Nissan 1400 embodies his personality and character; a laid back modest individual that’s been through his fair share, but like the 1400, maintains his authenticity and suave in everything he does. We’re travelling from Joburg in his classic van, headed to Tembisa. Maqabuka and I, are part of an exodus of labourers from the city, which pile the highway

Maqabuka is a deliberate visual artist, who is intensely inspired by the artistry of music, through thoughtful musicians. Like Bob Marley said, when it hits you, you feel no pain. The music inspires the work he creates. He tells me of a time while working, listening to HHP’s intro of his album O Rata Mang. Titled O mang? the song aptly made him question who he is. “I was like shit, who am I…and I did a self-portrait after that. It just clicked. I also listen to a lot of jazz when I paint, because jazz is very abstract, there are no sing-alongs or someone’s verse to come…it’s just abstract music that swallows you up. ”

His Base: Ludumo Maqabuka’s work space

In his studio at August House where we were before hitting the road, he has a piece of Dr Philip Tabane with guitar in hand, stationed on stage as a vessel of the spiritual music. “That piece is so special. I don’t want it being owned by someone who doesn’t even know him [Tabane].”

Having said that, he doesn’t get too artsy farty about his work to a point where he will hoard it to himself, because he thinks no one is special enough to own it. “Bab’Philp Tabane is a father to a lot of musicians, especially in Pretoria. I made that piece dedicating it to him…whoever will buy it, must be someone who’s gonna cherish that piece. I don’t care if they hang it up their wall. Hoarding it to myself would be some childish shit. You know I make work to be enjoyed by people,” says Maqabuka.

His work has the feel and boldness of graffiti largely because of the stencils he uses , but says he never did any graff in his past. “I was too chicken to spray walls, but my work is influenced by graffiti. I’m a Hip Hop head…growing up in the 90s, that’s all I wanted to do, but I never made it to the walls- I would just do a quick small tag on a school desk or bathroom wall,” he says.

A talented artist who doesn’t know who she or he is, is less effective as one who does. A pro-black artist who doesn’t make noise about it but lives it, Maqabuka understands the impact his work has and can have. “One thing about white people [at universities] is that, they don’t share knowledge with us. Our forefathers were not taught art. Only those who were fortunate, like musicians. During my course [of Fine Arts] I was reluctant to learn about white people and art- everything is European, there’s a bit of Egyptian. So from my first year until third year I was taught white art.” He studied Fine Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology and graduated in 2007.

Only on his third year was Maqabuka introduced to African art. “That shit interested me…I connected with it. I believe art was the first communication tool, because the Khoisan would draw a cow or whatever on rocks and that would be a reminder when they go hunt that this is our meat for the month- how do they know how to sketch?”

He says that’s where his love for graffiti comes from. “That’s the root of graffiti, it’s expression. Like the youth in America were expressing themselves because they were like ‘no one is was listening to us’ that’s why the colours were bright and bold and the letters were very cartoonish.”

He continues. “I’m telling my reality, with the influence of Hip Hop. The elements of graffiti come from Hip Hop…and I’m also a DJ. Sometime when you make an art work, you don’t really see how deep it is, your choices on images. I’ve painted a lot of musicians that I love. I can’t do anything without music”

Stage name Dub-L-Tot, derived from his nickname Toto, he’s been using the moniker for some years as his alter ego as a DJ. “The nice thing about DJing is that a set is about an hour, so it doesn’t take up much of my time. A couple of years ago, I had a lot of time on my hands because I didn’t have a lot of projects so I would prepare my sets and spend a lot of time practicing…I would play at the Love Rebel in Maboneng on Thursday and Sundays, sometimes on Saturdays.”

Double-L-Tot in action. Photo supplied

A lot has changed for the artist from Vosloorus since teaming up with Cape Town based agency, Spier Arts Trust. He came across the agency while studying a graphic designing course in Sandton at Rosebank College in 2011. “I use to walk past their building, which had nice artwork outside and I always asked myself what happens in there, until I decided to go in and ask one day.”

The agency buys and sells art work and they have Nandos as their biggest client. Maqabuka sent his portfolio after his curiosity led him into that building. “They give you six blocks, you make an artwork and they buy it back from you.”

He has a group exhibition later this month in Cape Town at the AVA Gallery. “The theme of the show is rituals and I chose street rituals, for instance protest as a sub theme,” he says. The exhibition is titled Nandos Creative Exchange powered by the Spier Arts Trust.

Street Ritual: Ludumo Maqabuka’s Work

“We as black people as’bekelani. I remember I use to go to Bag Factory and I wasn’t getting love. Let’s just call it art politics.” He’s a naturally reserved person, but opens up when feeling a sense of kinship with whoever he’s talking with. He says there are cabals in the Joburg art scene, which make it hard for one to crack it if they aren’t known there. “There’s a mafia typa thing…maw’ngaziwa, wubani ozok’fatela? Ama lecture wase Wits and UJ are running competitions…they are influential because they are teaching the future product. Ku rough dawg,” he says in laughter.

The adversity of not being able to fully utilize his university qualification saw him attempt a number of ventures, to make ends meet. In 2010, with a group of friends they tried their luck at running an internet café in Soweto and at some point he tried out at a call centre, which only lasted for three months. “I’m not really much of a talker. I worked in sales…imagine me trying to convince someone to buy a Cell C contract.”

It was while living in the South Western Township that his aunt told him to come back home. “Ma O’lady said I should come back home and try study some course. That’s when I went to Rosebank College to do the graphic designing course.”

Maqabuka lost his mother at a young age and his aunt has practically been his mother ever since. “She’s so dope man. Very supportive”

Amid his struggles for an income, he  start a clothing label with a friend, called Intsizwa Z’phelele. “I’m no longer part of it, but I help them with graphics.”

Talking about his difficult period in life he says “You go through depression, because of pressure from society. As a guy who studied in Pretoria, guys you went to school with are driving nice cars, they’re working and wena you’re broke and still hustling. Those times made me strong. I had to go through that phase.”

“I would advise one to start out as a graphic designer…or get a course that’ll give you a job and then study art afterwards because it’s not for the fainthearted-it’s art. I studied in Pretoria and came to Joburg and it was kinda hard because no one knew me, but if I went to Wits or UJ, I would have things different.”

Ludumo Maqabuka’s depiction of street rituals

Clearly he knows people and some important people know of him now, as he is a resident artist at August House and he is part of their current exhibition. Artists from the renowned studio will be part of a group collection which opens today in Sandton, titled the August House Group Exhibition In collaboration with Teresa Lizamore Mentorship Programme. It will include Zamani Xaba, Bukhosi Nyathi and Kealeboga Tlaleng among others.


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