Nas

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5min2560

“I played 0 to 100. Check the lyrics. As they’re telling me to play music without cursing, I’m literally hearing Drake cursing his ass off on the speakers. Was an embarrassing moment”

That’s the awkward moment prominent turntablist Akio Kawahito found himself in, on Saturday evening playing at Lauryn Hill’s after party. The DJ who is popularly known as DJ ID, was playing at Ms. Hill’s private gig, after she and Nas gave eager South African fans performances to remember. But things got a tad uncomfortable for the Kool Out Creative Director when he was asked to change a Drake song he was playing, that had one too many curse words for Ms.Hill’s liking.

“I didn’t really have a set planned, but I had a direction in mind. It was going to be a mix of Hip Hop, Afrobeats, Dancehall, and Reggae. After I got scolded for playing tracks with cursing, I got pretty shook because I was already nervous playing for Lauryn so I switched to Kwaito for a bit because I figured I’ll play some music she won’t understand,” said Kawahito.

Fuck bein’ on some chill shit

We go 0 to 100 nigga, real quick

They be on that rap to pay the bill shit

And I don’t feel that shit, not even a little bit

Oh Lord, know yourself, know your worth, nigga

My actions been louder than my words, nigga

How you so high, but still so down to Earth, nigga

Niggas wanna do it, we can do it on they turf, nigga

Oh Lord, I’m the rookie and the vet

Shoutout to the bitches out here holdin’ down the set ….are some of Drake’s lyrics from 0 to 100.

Hill was in the country this past weekend as part of her Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill 20th Anniversary tour that has seen her perform in various parts of the world, celebrating her 1998 classic album. But from the day it was announced last year, that she would come to Mzansi, a lot of people were skeptical of her punctuality, or lack of. She also been marred by reports of cancelling and postponing some of her Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill Anniversary legs, but delivered on Saturday night.

“I think as much as people love seeing a come up, they also love watching a star fall. There was definitely a lot of negativity and uncertainty on social media. I won’t lie, even I questioned it and I was in direct contact with her team. In the other hand she handled it like a true professional. Production ran more or less on schedule and she absolutely smashed it,” says Kawahito.

Despite being scolded during his mix, Akio left the venue having impressed the superstar who praised him. “All I wanted to do was to impress her so I was hella nervous. My sole role was to play music that she could vibe to so while the people were important, they were secondary to me trying to please her.”


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5min6111

UNLIKE the rest of social media, I wasn’t particularly excited by the news this morning, of Lauryn Hill and Nas coming to the country next year, looking back at their last performances in the country.

Ms.Hill will perform in Johannesburg on February 2 at the Ticketpro Dome and will feature Queens rapper Nas as her special guest. The dates were added to her world tour and announced this morning.

In 2014 Nas was on tour celebrating the 20 year anniversary of his timeless Illmatic album. He came and performed at a freezing Centurion, at SuperSport Park where he got on stage after Wiz Khalifa gave the audience one the best live performances I’ve ever witnessed.

Nas, performing some of the best Hip Hop songs of all time, was mundane to say the least. Because of his great material, he didn’t need to do much on stage because he was mostly stationed in one area, staring into a sea of Hip Hop fans who were spitting each song simultaneously with him, verbatim.

I remember a part of me dying inside though, standing adjacent the stage when I saw his lyrics on a teleptompter. I was like WTF Nas, how could you forget your lyrics. It was like I had just walked into the lavatory after the beautiful Jessica Nkosi had walked out, to discover that she too, drops bombs when doing the number two.

I just expect too much from these greats. But I’m curious to see how the set will go, especially after the subpar Nasir album which came out earlier this year. But hopefully the murmurs about him releasing another project later this year, are true and it drops before he lands in SA-which we hope will be doper than Nasir.

With Ms Hill on the other hand, let’s just hope she makes it to the event, on time and doesn’t change the sound set up. She’s a phenomenal performer and all-round artist who is more self-sabotaging than Thamsanqa Ghabuza.

Ms. Hill was last in South Africa in 2012, for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, she disappointed with her performance, due to her insistence on wanting to change how the sound was set-up by the organisers. Before her performance on the Kippies stage, Hugh Masekela had killed it in his tribute to Miriam Makeba which featured ThandiswaMazwai, VusiMahlasela and Freshly Ground frontwoman ZolaniMahola.

Hill was not audible enough and resigned to walking off stage, not completing her performance.But she salvaged her time in the country, with an impromptu performance in Gugulethu at the launch of Cape Town rapper Kanyi Mavi’s album launch on the same night, together with Mavi.

The Hill and Nas announcement left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, like when I heard Kendrick Lamar is coming out with another album in the next few days. With some things in life, you feel like they shouldn’t happened now, but when they do eventually happen you’ll give it chance, because it’s all for the culture, ain’t it.


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7min1740

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.


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10min390

If the past few years in America are anything to go by, the remaining three years under President Donald Trump will conscientize US artists into producing and releasing more pro-black music with strong political undertones.

Since 2012 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of African-American teen Trayvon Martin who died, black Americans have grown more impatient with the lethargic manner in which this and other cases have been dealt with.  This gave birth to the activist Black Lives Movement which gripped the world’s attention through demonstrations throughout the country, especially in 2014 when another black teen, Michael Brown, was murdered. In a video of one of the demonstrations that went viral, protesters are heard singing Kendrick Lamar’s socially charged Alright.

Lamar’s 2015 released album, To Pimp a Butterfly, had more political undertones than all of his prior work. The cover itself was a statement; it depicts him surrounded by a mob of young black males posing in front of the White House with a passed out judge lying on the ground in front of them. On The Blacker the Berry Lamar raps about issues faced by black people, but at the end of the song he asks himself why he cried when Martin was murdered when black on black violence is commonplace in hoods-turning the question to the black community, daring them to look at themselves first.

Rappers such as Common, De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Black Thought of the The Roots, Nas and Mos Def have always been classified “conscious” rappers for their socially aware lyrics. It’s as though they were the artists expected to do the ground work of making us aware of such social ills, while others only have the burden of setting the mood at parties, bedrooms and wherever else.

Just before the release of her last album A Seat at the Table, Solange went on Twitter to say the project is “meant to provoke healing and journey of self-improvement.”

The Neo-soul, funk and hip hop influenced 20 track project is unashamedly inspired by what’s happening in that country. Both her parents have interludes where they talk about their own experiences with racial tension in America. “I’ve always been proud to be black, never wanted to be nothing else…there’s such beauty in black people, it saddens me when we’re not allowed to express that pride and if you do, it’s considered anti-white.  No, you are pro-black and that’s okay…that you celebrate black culture does not mean you don’t like white culture. I get irritated when people say it’s racism…or when they complain that there’s a black history month,” says Mother Tina Knowles

D’Angelo’s Black Messiahs also majorly politically inclined. Inside the cover of the album the artist writes “ The title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about people rising up in Fergurson and in Egypt and Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen.”

In the early 1970s during the war in Vietnam and the mass demonstrations by the Martin Luther King Jr. crusades and as well as protests by students on college campuses in America, Marvin Gaye was inspired to pen the poignant What’s Going On album.

“I began to evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say…I realized I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people,” said Gaye on a documentary titled Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On.

The album, which petrified Motown founder Berry Gordy at first, went on to be one of the best works Motown has ever released. The music itself did not bring about change, but the people did. The artist conscientize his many listeners and made them aware of what’s happening around them. May 1st in 1972 was proclaimed as Marvin Gaye Day by the Mayor of Washington DC.

The dynamics are quite different here in South Africa-yes artist will be seen performing at rallies for specific political parties but it’s rare seeing them voicing out their opinions, especially in their work. The likes of The Brother Moves On, Phuzekhemisi, Freshly Ground and a few dare tread on socio-political ground. It could be because the situation doesn’t look dire as yet. During the apartheid the likes of the late Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba were quite vocal about the draconian system while people like the great Fela Kuthi weren’t afraid of going up against authority in other parts of Africa.

Kwaito artist Kabelo Mabalane did take aim at poor leaders in his Immortal Volume 3 album released in 2015. In a track titled Free This Land Mabalane questions the country’s state affairs aimed at then President Jacob Zuma, without naming him. “People follow, but they don’t check their leader, that’s why they are also spinning,” he sings on the heavy afro-beat tune. Then comes the refrain “We Miss You Mbeki Where are you,” which is sampled from a 1989 protest hit by Sello ‘Chicco’Twala We Miss You Manelo.



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