THERE isn’t anything intimidating or thrilling to a creative as a blank page, a naked canvass stationed solely for your ideas. The feeling of pressure engrosses the creative when they’ve fallen off the horse of inspiration; constantly banging their heads against the hardest surface, for the sweetest creative juices to spew outta them.
Wordsmiths will tell you of the writer’s block they go through when attempting to take their work to the next level. The agitation they get during this period, is similar to understanding a language but not being able to speak it. Or knowing where home is, yet clueless about the directions. Or simply losing the remote and not knowing where to find it. It gets really bad. Not just for writers, but all creatives.
Alcohol and drugs are then seen as keys which unlock doorways to multiple eureka moments. They help one unwind and not overthink the process of creating, but that’s only for a little while. Many times we’ve seen artists rapidly go from using a drug for unwinding, to simply utilizing it as a crutch. So drugs aren’t a long term solution to get you back on the proverbial horse of inspiration. For singer songwriter Fortune Shumba when that time comes, it hits quite hard. “I usually go looking for inspiration. I find inspiration in the oddest of places. Sometimes I go for a walk, sometimes I watch a series or porn, sometimes I start texting some of my friends-I make it a point to not listen to someone else’s music though, to avoid unintentional jacking. It happens.”
Other creatives have taken the psychedelic micro-dosing route, where a person takes a sub-threshold of psychedelic drugs daily for creative improvement, emotional balance and various other reasons. “For me, I usually wait it out. It’s frustrating in the moment, I wait it out and trust the process and just start looking for inspiration,” says lyricist Ginger Trill. “It will usually happen while listening to other music that I find genius, or even different enough to be dope. The key is patience and trusting the process, sometimes you need that drought to help you unlock another level.”
What makes this whole shandis worse is that, as a creative you’re spending long hours and days fretting over something that the average reader or listener will momentarily engage with, turn and then ask you, ‘what else do you have?’ So the pressure to keep churning out the good stuff is constantly on your back like AfriForum on Julius Malema’s rear.
Chefs thoroughly think through their meals which are consumed within minutes, long before stepping into the kitchen. It’s a double edged sword. But creative work has the ability to leave a lifetime effect on a person, even after brief interaction with the work.
Ironically some artists will engage with works by other eccentric thinkers, to spark their creative juices back to life. This act is not done to make one Austin Kleon (author of Steal Like An Artist) proud, but rather inspire you as a creative to get back and do what you do, which works for visual artist Thandazani Ndlovu, when he’s in no man’s land in front of a canvass. “I usually visit other artists that inspire me, or galleries,” he says. It could be a conversation with a fellow artist or sometimes collaborating with them. “Artists feed off each other,” Ndlovu says.
“Personally, I meditate,” singer songwriter Tsoness, from duo Tribal PunQ tells me. “[I] go to shows that inspire me, watch music on YouTube in hope of bumping into some inspiring tracks.”
Music producer Kabelo ‘KaeB’ Tsoako also finds himself pressing the same keys one too many times trying to break new grounds sonically. “When I don’t make actual music I’ll either mix songs or clean up all songs, but there’s a time [where] I don’t even touch music, then I’ll binge watch stuff on Netflix.”
Angela Mthembu who is a poet from live ensemble, PG13 doesn’t see it a drought per se. You know how Kanye West saw his breakdowns last year as breakthroughs, well Miss Mthembu’s views on clogged creativity vessels are on the optimistic side of life as well.
“I remember placing all the poetry that I’ve ever written on my bed you know, and I was like none of these are actually good enough. I remember saying to myself ‘what if the idea of writer’s block is the ability to improve your previous work?’ I held each poem I placed on the bed and rewrote it as Angela at that moment-from that day onwards, every time I go through the idea that I might have writer’s block, I have interpreted it as the universe saying it’s time to improve. ”
Each to their own right? But once you’ve coherently saturated that intimidating blank page with your ideas, it becomes work. Which often leaves you with a ting of pride and an avalanche of vindication for all the agony you went through, just to create.
IT is like the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. No, it’s similar to what that Idabala track did to people over the festive season. Actually, it’s a combination of the aforementioned plus the eagerness of an avid drinker at the site of an open bar. That’s what an election year does to politicians- it brings out their silly side.
We’ve only 10 days in the year but we’ve already seen and heard some ridiculous things spewing from candidates’ mouths. This article is not about the sound decisions you should make when you get to the ballot box come vote day. No. It’s to help you see through the bullshit that will be dished out, in the lead up to the country’s sixth democratic elections. The IEC hasn’t announced the date for this year’s voting, but it’s expected to be in May.
BELOW ARE FIVE RIDICULOUS THINGS YOU’LL SEE POLITICIANS DO TO GET YOUR VOTE:
THE EMERGENCE OF NEW POLITICAL PARTIES
Hludi Motsoeneng has big dreams of becoming president of this country one day. The discredited former SABC boss launched his party, the African Content Movement party last month. “The new animal, ACM, is [an] African first. Anything that we produce in South Africa will be 90% South African because it is very important to empower people of South Africa. We need to start here at home,” said Motsoeneng at the launch of ACM.
He has an interesting affinity with 90%. This is the same percentage he insisted on a couple of years ago while at the SABC, when he pushed for a quota for state radio stations to play substantial local music. There’s a common thread between these newly found political homes, besides the fact that they die out a year or so after an election, their party names usually sound like incomplete slogans or sentences.
Gupta-associate Mzwandile Manyi hinted at launching a political party too this year. But yesterday he announced that he’ll be joining the ATM-African Transformation Movement, a party formed by displeased Jacob Zuma supporters.
THE SHOW OF SUPERFICIAL AFFECTION TO THE PEOPLE
Yes, it’s that season where the lips of presidential candidates get busier than that of teen girls pouting for selfies. The kissing of babies while on a campaign trail is a US tradition which political contenders from around the world have adopted. Here in South Africa kissing babies isn’t the only way to show warmth and kindness to hopeful voters.
Smooching senior citizens and going to the homes of the impoverished is also a card that politicians play. As a way of being ‘in touch with the people’ some politicians will actually go out of their way and butcher people’s languages while addressing them. You should hear a Mmusi Maimane promising a better life for rural people in the KwaZulu-Natal, in the most uncomfortable isiZulu you’ll hear.
STUPENDOUS HAND OUTS OF POLITICAL REGALIA
Maybe it’s that track by Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson, or that line from Kanye’s Good Life… but whatever it is, people sure do believe that the best things in life are free. Politicians take advantage of people because of that very fact. Citizens are always ready to get on a free bus ride to a stadium, where they’ll be handed free T-shirts just so the arena looks like it’s filled up by active members of that party. Caps and lanyards are also handed out at these mass gatherings.
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ANNOYINGLY TRYING TO BE COOL
I cringed at the site of seeing former President Zuma rocking a straight cap dabbing with fellow comrades his age at a rally, campaigning for the 2016 Municipal elections all in a bid to lure young voters. Another trick they’ll pull, is of a celebrity’s endorsement. Photos of EFF Chief Julius Malema and rapper AKA at an event circulated social over the festive season. That was no coincidence.
The likes of AKA, Kwesta and Nasty C have millions of followers who some will be voting for the first or at least second time this year and politicians are very much aware of that. Just like any brand, political parties will lure artists with big cheques so that they encourage their fans to vote for a particular organization.
THE BIG PROMISES THEY MAKE AT MANIFESTOS
You know that friend who’ll randomly call you and suggest y’all go out. You get there and after the bill arrives, that person decides to tell you that they actually don’t have the money to pay because of personal issue. That’s how these political fellas will make you feel post-election.
It’s sad, the promises they make to desperate, destitute and gullible civilians who’ve religiously given their vote to them but have received nothing significant in return for their trust. It’s the major reason for young people’s disenchantment with the elections because history has taught them to never trust politicians’ hogwash.
Make up sex is awesome but does the same energy translate into good music?
Following Solange’s karate kid antics in the elevator in 2014, Beyoncé’s revelations on Lemonade and Jay-z’s explanations on 4:44, it would appear that the Carters have overcome whatever issues they had in their marriage. Predictably , they are not the type of people to let a good crisis resolution go to waste, thus they dropped a surprise album on June 16 in order to add a couple of zeros to their already overflowing bank accounts, cementing their position as king and queen of American urban music.
The album opens with a ballad-like slow jam titled Summer in which the Carters lyrically paint pictures of sex on the beach, or on a yacht, surrounded by crystal blue waters without a care in the world. Luxury and marital bliss is the stuff that a big girl’s dreams are made of and Beyoncé flawlessly delivers with her sensually subliminal lyrics; I want you to come inside right now…so you know just how I feel, with Jigga expressing teenage boy like excitement with his adlibs. The whole joint feels like a honeymoon anthem which is meant to convince the listener that everything is love. I thought the whole album was going to carry this mood but on the following three records in the project, the Carters make it clear that they are on another level when it comes to the cheddar cheese. On the bouncy joint accurately named Boss, Jigger goes off on his haters, stating Niggers rather work for the man…than to work for me…just so they can pretend…they on my level…that shit is irking to me. Throughout the project the Carters make it clear that they are building a legacy for generations to come, which is a refreshing reprieve from the typical hedonistic tendencies of modern day Hip-hop.
The Pharell-produced Nice has to be my favourite joint on this project. It has a playful demeanour about it, with a funny moment in the song where Beyoncé gives Spotify the middle finger; Patiently waiting for my demise…cause my success can’t be quantified…if I gave two fucks about streaming numbers…when you pull up my name on Spotify…fuck you…fuck you…you cool…fuck you. I couldn’t stop chuckling by myself as I was walking to the shops to get some cigarettes.
Listening to the joint 713 it dawned on me that this might be the first time in Hip-hop history that we get husband and wife conversations on an entire Hip-hop influenced album. The Carters’ consistent Hip-hop references in the album feel organically refreshing, with Beyoncé pulling a young Snoop Dogg impression on 713; I’m representing for the hustlers all across the world…still dipping in my low lows girl…I put it down for the 713…and we still got love for the streets followed by a Jigger’s impression of Common I never knew a… love…love…love like this…got to be special for me to write this…queen…I don’t mean no disrespect -its disgustingly cute.
This is a strong project from the Carters, they manage to mix Hip-hop and R&B without sounding too pretentious, which was a pleasant surprise for me as someone who generally can’t tolerate sentimentality. There are no true radio bangers on this album, which is surprising considering the mainstream appeal of both artist. Perhaps the first single of the project, Apeshit might dominate the charts but I doubt it. The video drips with opulence but I think it will go over the heads of Trap-lords who are the main target of the song sonically. Niggers wanna see racks and Lambos, not the Carters mean mugging in front of the Mona Lisa because niggers don’t read. But regardless, Hovah and Queen B are gonna stay winning, best believe that.
In the sixth episode of the second season of Atlanta, Darius drives out of town to a mansion owned by the peculiar and wealthy Teddy Perkins, to pick up a piano he found on the internet.
Before getting into the reason for his visit, Darius and Perkins have a brief chat about music. “Rap…I found it never quite grew out of its adolescence,” says Perkins. He goes on to say that rap is insufficient as an art form, to which Darius subtly disagrees. This brief conversation came to mind as I listened to the Nasir album by Nas.
The times we’re living in, allow us to witness the first batch of active, middle aged emcees that aren’t just putting music out, but also competing on the charts with the younger emcees. The likes of Common, Jay- Z, KRS-ONE, Eminem and others are prime examples; thus indicating Hip Hop’s growth as an art form. But the downside of these grown men being behind the mic, is that as fans we inevitably compare them to their younger selves. It’s an unfair comparison I admit, but what can I say, fans are fans and they are the life blood of the art form.
…I didn’t like Bonjour but after a few more listens the joint grew on me like pubic hair…
I’m an avid consumer of this Hip Hop thing and I was disappointed with the 44 year-old Nas’s execution on Nasir. Mind you, I wasn’t comparing him to that 20 year-old from Queens that released Illmatic in 1994. That would certainly be unfair because that album is one of the greatest bodies of work of all time. This project doesn’t even compare to his last one, Life is Good.
I liked the idea of this album; how he talked about his Pan-Africanness, Police violence on black people in the US and on his personal life. But I don’t think he came proper with his flow and bars. Nas could’ve done more.
Not For Radio I didn’t enjoy because of the dragged-out flow which sounded like a poem on a good beat. At times, he was off beat which made me cringe. Certainly not a good way to open the album.
On Cops, he sounded like the Nas we’ve grown to like post- Illmatic. He doesn’t necessarily kill the beat with the raps, but the weight of the truth in the song holds the joint. While Kanye spat what could be his finest verse in a long while.
Throughout the album, Ye’s beats are something to marvel at- much like the other albums he’s produced that have come out in the past four weeks. After this offering though, my conclusion is that Mr West should release a beat tape, just for control as they say.
At first, I didn’t like Bonjour but after a few more listens the joint grew on me like pubic hair. In the song Nas is flexing about the good life he’s blessed with, travelling to beautiful parts all over the world, yet dropping knowledge on how to spend money and creating a better future for your offspring.
Everything is also a beautiful song, but Kanye’s presence could have you thinking it’s a Ye joint featuring Nas. Adam and Eve isn’t my favourite, but he came correct and was on par with the beat. The album gets better with each song. It’s just unfortunate that it is only seven tracks, which demands more of an artist because you can’t come out not half-stepping in any of the songs, as oppose to a 13 track album which gives one more time and room to build momentum and play around some ideas. Nas grew more palatable as the album went. Simple Things is a good joint that’s far from being simplistic.
The album’s replay value is unsatisfactory, one is left to nit-pick and wanting more. But this isn’t the worst Nas project, but it’s far from Nas’ best.
Squandering an opportunity to live out your dreams is one of the most painful things a person can go through. It can break the mind of a human being beyond recognition leading to some form of mental illness arising from the fact that a person cannot let go of the past, due to their own ego and societal pressure. They can end up seeing things that are not there as a result of losing a grip on reality, spiralling down into a self-created hell from which they cannot escape because their own mind has betrayed them. This is the general theme in Kid Cudi’s collaborative project with the traitor that is Kanye west, amply named Kids see ghosts.
While there are some Cudi joints that will never come out of my playlist, most of his projects are holistically unsatisfying to my ears. His insistence of consistently blending elements of rock and hip-hop have not hit the proverbial mark in the past but with kids see ghosts, I have come to appreciate the man’s talents. His reverb soaked adlibs transport the listener to a dreamy landscape of meditation as he shares the lessons gained from being hospitalized for depression.
On the song Freeeee he jubilantly proclaims Feel out of my past life…I died and came back twice…no I’m Freeeeeeeee I want this song played at my funeral on repeat all day.
On the outro track Reborn he hypnotically chants Ain’t no stress on me boy…I’m moving forward…keep moving forward…keep moving forward which has become my soundtrack to life for the past couple of days. As a hip-hop fan I generally prefer my lyrics dense with content but with Cudi on this project I am fine with his simple bars because of the conviction with which he delivers them. On the song Freeeee he jubilantly proclaims Feel out of my past life…I died and came back twice…no I’m Freeeeeeeee I want this song played at my funeral on repeat all day.
The beats on this project are some of the most creative pieces of urban music I have heard in my life. The beat for 4th Dimension is a masterpiece of note. It starts off with an old Christmas jiggle which is then reversed as soon as the drums enter, combined with choir harmonisations in the background it is like peanut butter and jam for my ears, it should not work, but it does. On the same song the traitor delivers his bars as if he was still the old Kanye, which is generally the case throughout the entire project. It’s confirmed the traitor is back on form when it comes to his magic touch behind the decks. Cudi montage is another example of the traitor’s creativity with the sample machine and MPC, combining Country music guitar riffs with hip-hop drums and gospel harmonies to create a jam of note.
The sonic texture of this entire project is unique, you cannot fit it into one genre. This is usually a risky proposition because experimentation often compromises quality but that is not the case here, which is its primary drawback. People like to classify and fit things into neat, separate, boxes. So that they can know what is what. I suspect that outside of hardcore music fans this project will not gain much traction and for most people it will have low replay value, which has been the case for all Good Music projects thus far this season. I personally love this project and I believe it is Cudi’s best work. Hopefully he has exercised his demons through the journey of making this project and no longer sees ghosts.