“It’s a beautiful thing man, music is a beautiful thing,” Mac Miller jokingly said on his NPR Tiny Desk performance. But nothing could be closer to the truth. Listening to music and singing together has been shown to impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connections.
The music-events industry is built on this fact. But not all events harness the beauty of umculo. Cue the Beast, People Series that takes place tomorrow at 4ROOM Creative Village in Tembisa. It’s a sequence of gigs around Gauteng, which was founded by DJs and producers from various parts of the province.
It includes founder DJ BlaQt from Vosloorus, Soweto’s DJ Medicine, DJ Killa Kane and Backdraft of Mambisa. “The gig started in Vosloorus as Beats, People & Vosloorus. This is the second installment in Tembisa, we’re headed to Soweto with the next gig,” Backdraft tells me. “What connected us and still connects us to this day is our love for the music and I believe it is the reason our name starts with Beats,” Backdraft, who is the musician in the clique says.
“The purpose of the show is to grow audience, have people appreciate what we do because we’ve realised that ja, the vibes that we bring are not necessarily mainstream and is not what people get all the time. They actually want to get it. We are bringing it to them and taking it to different hoods,” says Protea Glen’s DJ Medicine.
Much as this is about music and how it brings people together, the guys understand the potential ecosystem such a movement presents for stakeholders themselves as well as entrepreneurs e lokxion. “…because the whole thing is for us to do our shit you know, benefit from our shit and grow our shit with the people that like what we’re doing, without compromising the vibe. But also including the people that are in that hood we’re going to, and making it grow in that hood,” Medicine says.
There’s already merchandise like T-shirts and hoodies sold at their gigs. The merch is simply laden with the aesthetically pleasing name of the movement which is also their logo. “Well the name was simply to do with what my vision was; the music and all people in and around the hood or townships,” BlaQt explaining the origin of the name. “Tembisa will be our second edition of the Beast, People Series…we had great success in my hood. We’re preparing for the next gig as we’re talking.”
Vosloo was a success that set a high bar for the succeeding hosts, but Backdraft is convinced his Tembisa has a unique proposition. “Our geographic position, we are where Ekurhuleni starts or ends, depending on how one views this. We attract people as far as Pretoria, Centurion, Midrand, Alexandra, Daveyton, Kempton Park and even Joburg. We are a melting pot for different cultures and offerings. We have our very own celebrities, artists and DJs who hardly ship their skill beyond hood boarders, therefore providing an experience that one will only experience in our hood,” he says.
The gig at 4ROOM has eight DJs on the line-up with Backdraft himself and the Musa Mashiane Trio as the night’s only live performers.
LIKE a first kiss, debut projects are timelessly unforgettable. Might be because artists create such work without pressure and expectation from the audience and themselves. Whatever it is, the music sticks for a lifetime.
Anyone who has come across music by Las Days Fam, will tell you about the clique’s Official Streets EP, which celebrates a decade this month, since its release in August 2008.
It’s funny how the days go by…you’d swear it was just a few months ago when the EP first came out. From the get-go, you can feel the spirit of Hip Hop and of Tembisa, as you’re welcomed to the EP by HI4P’s Madpro and their other followers in the intro, with soundbites recorded at Hip Hop sessions.
Authenticity in Hip Hop, is crucial to how an emcee is received by the culture. We knew, from the jump what LDF were about; an unwavering faith clique from Tembisa, that doesn’t hold back on the bars and on their truth. Whether you’re agnostic or an atheist who doesn’t agree with what they’re saying, you respect their realness. Being a Hip Hop group that openly talks about Jesus Christ can be quite tricky, as not a lot of people would be receptive to something that’s the equivalent of a sermon on beats. But LDF isn’t just that. Their skill and close-attention to detail has earned them respect from Hip Hop heads and music lovers around the world.
“I thought the real is back, when I first heard them. That was my first impression. It’s real raps and the project was well mastered if I remember well- it was music with purpose and music with a real message, that’s the one thing that stood out for me when I listened to the project,” says Back To the City founder Osmic Menoe.
Unlike other neighbourhoods, Tembisa doesn’t have rappers who’ve cemented their place in the game. LDF was first and remains the only clique to do that. Speaking to one of the finest DJs in the country, Illawon Kane who hails from the 1632, he says “Having known Thabang (Landmarq), from back when we hosted events in Tembisa, as a consistent lyrically fit emcee with a voice that makes you wanna extend your listening cap, it was one of those moments where one would take a breather and say ‘finally, the streets are going to hear what 1632 emcees are made of.’ An EP that represented kasi out of kasi because there are a lot of dope emcees that have good music but are unable to make the same impact that LDF had with this.”
Osmic, who owns Ritual Media which also had Ritual Stores at the time, says the LDF fellas brought the EP to him at the store. “…obviously there was not many or not any record stores willing to sell local Hip Hop. The impact it had was from…the beats and the lyricism- you could tell the commitment that these guys were showing. And I remember also, plotting with Mizi when he and myself thought ‘fuck man, these kats need to get some form of a deal or a distribution deal or some sort’…Mizi used the HYPE magazine to basically create meetings for the fellas to go and meet up, I can’t recall if it was Musica or a distributer- I could be wrong, but I remember that as well,” he says. Osmic was particularly impressed with the quality of the music.
Kane mastered one of the dopest joints, Think Twice Music. “….The song grew into me as I used to listen to it over and over to get the right sound it deserved. It’s a story teller kind of song,” he says. “I was invited to the launch of the E.P as a DJ, which took place in Newtown. Proud moment it was.”
“Their consistency of releasing, at some point kinda stopped, but the beauty about making good projects is that they last long. Even if they don’t release for a good four or five years, the first project was strong enough to last a good 15 to 20 years,” says Osmic.
“Unfortunately the lucky never realizes they are lucky until it’s too late. Take yourself for instance; yesterday you were better off than you are off today but it took today for you to realize it. But today has arrived…” a quote from the Rabbi character, in the Luck Number Slevin movie is an intro to one of my favourite songs on the EP, Last Days Lullaby where everyone goes in on the beat with a barrage of bars that drag your ear to the speaker for close listening.
At the time of releasing the EP, LDF had four members; Bonafide, Landmarq, Kitron and Braintrain. The two latter members are no longer part of the group. The clique currently has three members, which includes new member Baggz.
In the 10 years since that EP came out, LDF has released two albums, Eternal Effect in 2012 as well as last year’s release, Dissent. They won the Best Group award in the now defunct Hype magazine Hip Hop awards in 2010, got a SAMA nomination at the 2013 South African Music Awards (SAMA) and won the Best Gospel Rap at the SABC’s Crown Gospel awards in 2011.
According to Landmarq, they were planning of celebrating the anniversary through the release of a remixed version of the EP. “We had a number of producers lined up, but I got side-tracked. We had planned to launch it with an event and guests.”