Ol’Dirty Bastard

images-1.jpeg
10min2861

Solange’s Don’t Touch My Hair served as a declaration for black women, that their hair is an extension of who they are and that it’s their crown of glory. India.Arie’s I am Not My Hair was a bold statement from the inner being, vehemently saying the scrutiny she faces can’t be based on the exterior. The contradiction of the two ideologies in the songs is an epitome of women’s differing feelings towards hair. Moriri. Izinwele. Misisi. It can be such a contentious topic.

I’ve had the fine thread stands in my head for the past few days since watching Chris Rock’s 2009 doccie Good Hair again a few days ago. In addition to that, I’ve been witness to a salvo of posts from female friends on social media about their anxiety of being unable to do their hair during this lockdown. While some females are shit scared that they’ll be looking like Ol’Dirty Bastards lost daughters during this time, others see this as an opportunity to just let their hair down and not worry about looking the part for anybody, for the next few weeks.

“Actually I’ve never really thought about that, ukuthi izinwele zami yicrowd. Eish angazi” says Smangele Vilakazi, laughing.  She currently has cornrows and says she usually wears her hair natural as an afro if she doesn’t feel like wearing a weave. “No, this lockdown hasn’t brought any anxiety because my hair doesn’t require too much work. I just wash it, let it dry and then it’s good.” Smangele changes her hairstyle every month, depending on what style she’s wearing.

“I have locks, I never call them ‘dreadlocks’ because there is nothing dreadful about my hair,” Nobantu Baba tells me. “Currently with the lockdown, I let my hair hang loose only indoors, I usually have it in different styles or wrapped up in a turban, but I never strain it with tight pulling hairdos. I try to keep it simple.”

A photo of well done cornrows.
A photo of well done cornrows.

Conspiracy theorists will be happy to know that Nobantu is more concerned about the virus making home in her hair, than the anxiety brought by not being able to visit a salon. “I’ve heard theories of the virus getting stuck on your hair, so I don’t take chances. With grooming it, I don’t stress much because it probably needs a break too. I’m also lucky to have my boyfriend who has experience grooming natural hair, so he mixes up special oils to keep the skull nourished and he styles it when needs be.”

Thando Dhaza loves her mane, but doesn’t see it as a crown. “I have cornrows, I always have cornrows if not braids,” she says. “[The lockdown] has caused some anxiety because I do my hair every three weeks.”

Similar to Nobantu, Nicole Ling-Ling Sidell finds herself on lockdown with someone who can do her hair. “I’m not a salon person, I do my hair myself. But with the braids, I got lucky because I’m in lockdown with my sister-in-law who is really bomb with hair. And she did it for free,” Nicole says.

Clair Mawisa with her well-taken care of locks. Clair Mawisa Twitter.
Clair Mawisa with her well-taken care of locks. Clair Mawisa Twitter.

She bats for Team Solange in that she sees her hair as her pride. “Let me tell you something. Hair is very important to women, but for me it goes a level up because I’m a fashionista. It completes my looks, an outfit can be really dope but without the perfect hairstyle, might as well not rock it.”

“I’m currently growing my natural hair from scratch because it got damaged as a result of my recent obsession with bleach. I wear a wig most of the time, but since the lockdown I got box braids. Really long ones, been wanting to do them for a while but didn’t have the time to. So now well, we all got time currently,” says Nicole laughing. She washes her hair every three days and applies a special mixture of crushed marijuana seeds and coconut oil.

I like it natural. Black Enterprise
I like it natural. Black Enterprise

Felicia, who is a hairstylists says the lockdown has affected her to a point where she has to operate as though she’s selling contraband. “I firstly never took this [Coronavirus outbreak] serious but I realised that big companies and big stores are being closed and we’re forced to be isolation. Me and a friend of mine manged to get a permit, which we had to fix at the internet café by adding our own names and details so that I’m able to go to Joburg to stock up.”

Her salon of more than five years, is situated in a double-garage in her yard and was forced to close by police last week.

Sitting with her, Felicia plays me WhatsApp voice notes from some of her customers who are inquiring if she’s open for business. “My business is operating, but I do house calls although it’s a challenge because you get there and someone tells you they forgot about the appointment or that they aren’t home.”

One of Felicia's custormers. Photo supplied.
One of Felicia’s clients. Photo supplied.

Whether you’re Team Solange or Team India.Arie, only you as a black woman know what your hair means.

Flabba3.jpg
5min3221

WE’RE mortal beings whose existence on this planet has an ending, but through a legacy one can live forever. Ask Bob Marley, Steve Biko or Flabba, who today would’ve celebrated his 41st birthday.

Real name Nkululeko Habedi, born in Soweto but raised in Alex, Flabba passed away three years ago after an altercation with his girlfriend Sindisiwe Manqele, who stabbed him. I remember that Monday morning in March when former Skwatta Kamp member Infa, confirmed that Flabba was no more. The whole Hip Hop community was frozen in shock, that ntja ya Gomora was gone.

Flabba left us with music he recorded with his group Skwatta Kamp, but we were fortunate enough to get one solo project from him which was the 2006’s Nkuli vs Flabba. The album won Best Rap album at the South African Music Awards in 2007.

I write this listening to a track from the album which he did with Lira, Gotta Let You Go. In the short song, he talks about the battling pain of losing his father and brother. This was a rare appearance by Nkululeko on record talking about his emotions, something which Flabba wouldn’t do because he was Nkuli’s Black Label drinking out-of-this-world alter ego.

Like the Kea Go Rata skit on the album where he’s in a club with a girl, tryna mack on her over loud music, but changes his story as soon as the music abruptly goes silent. He gave us himself in the album, the ying and the yang.

It wasn’t a traditional Hip Hop album marinated in lyricism and intricate rhyme schemes, like the stuff Proverb and Zubz were doing at the time. But like a proper comedian, he was far observant of what’s happening in society than people gave him credit. Kats like Lil Dicky are being given tags such as a comical rapper, while Flabba exposed us to such years ago. He was ahead of his time.

Zubz’s Heavy 8 is probably South Africa’s best posse cut, but Flabba’s Is’Bhamu Somdoko remix follows close behind. It pinned down the various Mzansi rap styles in one song, with everyone trying to channel their twisted sexual side which Flabba did so seamlessly. On the track Nkuli Habedi, he says he’s not your average rapper, but your favourite porn star. Flabba could rap, but was wise enough to avoid sounding like everyone around him who was chasing that US flow and style. He carved his own lane.

Gifted individuals live with an unfathomable and sometimes careless realness as if they know that their time on this earth won’t match any country’s life expectancy number.  His clique, Skwatta Kamp was often juxtaposed to the US’s Wu Tang Clan because of their influence in the culture and also because both groups were bigger than the average Hip Hop collective.

Writing this, I can’t help but think of Flabba as SK’s Ol’Dirty Bastard. Both are deceased, they were both comical, abrasive, genuine and intelligent. Thank goodness he wasn’t part of Club 27, otherwise we wouldn’t have received what he gave us in his last 10 years on earth.

PROkid-@Basha-Uhuru-1280x853.jpg
13min17803

PRO KID was only 37. Ben Sharpa just 41. Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a mere 34. Mizcheif was 38. Sean Price was 43 .

All these are names of great rappers who’ve inspired generations of emcees. But the other miserable common thread among these names, is that they all died at a young age because of the lifestyles they lived. The gallons of alcohol drank, unhealthy food consumed, smoke that fills the lungs and countless blunts that are puffed and passed, plus shit sniffed up the nose are huge factors in most rappers’ early deaths.

Pro Kid who died just last week is said to have demised from a serve seizure following a night out with friends. Since his passing, a lot has been said about what actually happened to the genius rapper whose real name was Linda Mkhize. In an interview with Drum magazine, Pro’s cousin said the rapper had no history of seizures. There are suggestions that the rapper had begun taking drugs lately, to help him deal with career and life frustrations.

In my interview with the SABC’s Media Monitor this past Sunday, I mentioned that the only thing we can do now is speculate to what really happened because no one went to Pro to ask how he was. There was a requiring theme on social media in the past week from celebrities, saying they failed Pro. Failed him in what exactly?

This indicates something wrong had been happening in his life recently, but people turned a blind eye.

I last saw the rapper in June at Basha Uhuru where he delivered a good performance. But what was startling was how young he looked- before that, I had seen him around Tembisa where he visited often years ago. Then, he looked his age. But at Basha the kat didn’t necessarily look bad, but he suspiciously looked like a 22 year-old.

As much as people might think, talking about what really happened to him is tarnishing his legacy, I believe the family has a responsibility to share the post-mortem results so that it can also help the next generation of artists. It’s their prerogative I know, but being open about such helps guide artists who are already in the game and those who have ambitions of gracing stages with their talent.

Imagine what a post-mortem would do for a person like Emtee, who a just a few weeks ago fell on stage high on codeine. It would really be a reality check for the young kat and others like him.

Sharpa had been living with diabetes for a long while, but died due to complications with the disease. I can’t help ask myself if ‘the complications’ could’ve been avoided had he lived a better lifestyle.

An illustration of late rapper Ben Sharpa at his memorial service in Newtown. By Sip The Snapper

Till this day, I laud Kwaito artist Zombo who went on live television to tell the nation that he was living with HIV AIDS. He died in 2008 at the age of 27. But that bone-chilling frankness has helped so many young men to think twice about dipping in the forbidden fruit without protection. Yea, he was ridiculed but at least now people know what not to do. If you can flaunt your success, then allow us to be privy to your downfall too. After all, you’re also a human being.

Kwaito artist Zombo. Photo Supplied

Wu Tang Clan animated rapper ODB died just two days before turning 35. His cause of death was due to an overdose on coke. An autopsy found a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription drug tramadol. The overdose was ruled accidental and witnesses say Ol’ Dirty Bastard complained of chest pain on the day he died- watching documentaries about the Wu, you get a perfect sense from those close to him that it wasn’t accidental. It’s this ‘sweeping things under the carpet’ mentality that causes the problem to escalate in the entertainment industry.

Rapper Ol’Dirty Bastard. Photo by HipHopDX

In an interview on Metro FM with DJ Fresh on his breakfast show last year, comedian John Vlismas spoke about this epidemic problem in the media and creative space. “We have been hardwired to think that we are working hard in media, we don’t really. Going down a mine is working hard. Being a domestic and working for people who are ungrateful is very hard. We think we work hard, therefore we should play hard and we have been raised in a society where this is permissive.” Vlismas himself, had issues with drug addiction before changing his lifestyle because of near-death experiences.

A member of hip-hop groups Boot Camp Clik and Random Axe, he was half of the duo Heltah Skeltah, performing under the name Ruckus, Sean Price’s death also shocked the world in 2015.  A statement from his team, just said he died in his sleep-not giving anything else. He was 43 and still had so much to offer.

Sean Price in 2014. Photo by Billboard

The last time I saw Sharpa perform was the last time I saw Mizchief, they were in Tembisa for the 21Mic Salute Hip Hop event in 2013- although Mizchief never performed. I vividly remember how Mizchief resurfaced from a hiatus, months before his passing.  The Fashionable hit-maker was reported to have died of illness in 2014. The more ambiguous the reasons for an artists’ passing from those close to them, the more the legacy is tarnished by rumours.

Mizchief. Photo Supplied

Fela Kuti’s brother, Professor Olikoye (Ransome) Kuti, a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health in Nigeria, admitted in a press conference that Fela died of AIDS in 1997. Great as the musician was, his lifestyle choices weren’t the best. People ought to know who their heroes really are, because no one is perfect. If anything, people can now relate more to Fela.

Canadian rapper Bender who came to South Africa in 2016 to rip apart Stogie T (Tumi, of The Volume) in a rap battle, also died in March this year from a disease linked to his lifestyle.  He died from sleep apnoea- a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during one’s sleep. There are various causes for this, one of them being excessive weight or obesity.

Rapper Bender. Photo Supplied

The lifestyles we live will be our downfall. It’s very important for artists to surround themselves with people who genuinely care about their well-being because as much fun and cool excessive drinking and drug intake may be, one has to always think about their health. Added to that, is that most of these artists are survived by young families who are left stranded and in debt. That people have to donate stuff to the Mkhize family is sad and quite condescending for an artist of Pro’s calibre, because we’ve seen too many artists die as paupers. How long will this go on?

*Names not mentioned include: Brenda Fassie, Whitney Houston, TK, Jimi Hendrix, Brown Dash and plenty more!


About us

We’ll Not Change The World Ourselves. But We’ll Spark The Minds That Do.
Read More

CONTACT US




Newsletter





    I'm not a robot
    View our Privacy Policy