IT’S one thing to win an award deliberated over by a panel of industry experts, but it’s another to be chosen by the people. The significance of this is that, ordinary people go out of their way to vote for you because they genuinely believe and vibe with you, even the OGs.
“…The legendary Zubz telling me that my music is incredible and exactly what the game needs. He had a lot of praise for me, which was a shock considering I didn’t even think he had heard about me,” says Touchline. The rapper was reflecting on a moment with OG emcee Zubz the last letter, at the SlikourOnLife Verse of the Year awards in Braamfontein last week. Touchline won the Hennessey People’s Choice Award, with 700 votes.
The Muthaland artist says he believed he could win, but didn’t think it would actually happen. “Fortunately I have manged to build a core fan base that holds me down in times like these. Plus, they really relate to 5Grand which is the song that got me the award. I can now attack some of the toughest situations knowing that they have got my back,” he says.
In a statement, awards founder Stogie T said “These awards were created to salute Hip Hop and to celebrate skill and the art form of MC’ing.”
Touchline’s storytelling is soaked in township syntax, delivered in great word play and hard-hitting lyrics. Because of his skill, he’s being compared to Pro Kid, especially after releasing the heartfelt The Procedure after Pro’s passing last year, where he rapped on the Uthini Ngo Pro beat.
This comparison can come with a lot of pressure for a young artist trying to certify his place in the game. “It’s only motivation, the only pressure is from me to hit the heights that I truly believe I can hit. The pressure is never external, being compared to my idol only validates me doing this for so many years.”
The award winner promises to release new music this year, he’s already released Celaukuthi which he did with DJ Citi Lytes.
The ceremony was attended by over a 100 Hip Hop heads in the industry such as Sabelo Mkhabela, Azizzar Mosupi, YFM’s DJ Sabby and MTV Base’s Sandile Ntshingila among the list attendees. Some of the night’s winners include Kid Tini, Kwesta and Laylizzy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
ON a day the country celebrates Women’s Day, we wake up to the sad news of Pro Kid’s passing.
Linda ‘Pro Kid’ Mkhize died on Wednesday night from a severe seizure attack while at a friend’s plac. The paramedics are said to have attempted to revive the 37 year-old, but it had been too late.
Just last week, tributes were pouring in for another rap giant Ben Sharpa…now Pro Kid’s spirit is on the receiving end of these tributes.
Often juxtaposed to each other largely because of their monikers, Proverb wrote a touching message on his social media accounts. “Praying the news is not true, but if it is then my brother I wish you a safe passage into heaven. You were indeed a pioneer, a legend and once an incredible emcee. For the record I never considered you a ProKid but rather a ProKing!”
Maggz, who worked a lot with Pro in their early years in the game tweeted “A dark day-lost a brother, a friend, and a kindred spirit today, brutally heart-breaking. R.I.P Prokid.” One of the dopest songs the two laced was Celebrate which featured Sgebi. The two brought out the best in each other whenever they were on the same track.
While Stogie T summed up Pro’s travels in his career saying “From Le Club to Slaghuis to YFM to Soweto to Loxion Kulture to Backpack Rap to Gallo to IV League to TS Records to Dankie San to Rap Battles to the Charts to Superstardom to one of the best ever to do it. I am leaving a lot out. Horrible news.”
Whether a PR exercise or a genuine sympathetic message, but Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa also sent his condolences. “We’re deeply saddened by the tragic passing of lyrical genius, pioneering Hip Hop artist Linda Mkhize (ProKid). ProKid took rapping in African languages to great heights and he will go down as one of the greatest and most influential Hip Hop Artists of his generation.”
Pro leaves behind timeless music he released in his career that spanned for nearly 20 years. He released five albums; Heads & Tales, DNA, Dankie San, Snakes & Ladders and Continua. There are a number of rappers from ekasi, but Pro stands above the rest because he was able to make music, not just barrage listeners with comical punchlines with each line. A stellar artist who paved the way for this skrru skruu generation. He was second to none, whether spitting in his native language or dropping bars in his English, on beats by Dome. The last performance I got to see of the rapper was just weeks ago at Basha Uhuru.
The game changing rapper is survived by his parents, wife, three year-old daughter and his brothers. Details about his memorial service and funeral will be announced in the coming days as the family comes to terms with the sad news.
As the country’s youth month comes to a close, Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, will host young people as they celebrate their freedom of expression at three day festival, Basha Uhuru.
In its fifth year running, the festival is guided by the theme, Join the Movement. This is symbolic of what the youth, not only in Soweto but different parts of the country, did in June 1976 through protests against the enforcement of Afrikaans, alongside English, as a compulsory medium of instruction for key subjects in all black schools through the Bantu Education Act of 1953.
Last year’s theme was We the People. These themes, says Exhibition and Events coordinator Gaisang Sathekge, are decided on by a committee that shares ideas on these. “As a constitutional precinct, we have to ensure that these brainstorming sessions are inspired by the objectives that we stand for which are constitutionalism, human rights and democracy.”
The word ‘Basha’ means youth and ‘Uhuru’ translates to freedom. “So the festival is about providing young people with the freedom of artistic expression,” says Sathekge.
Basha Uhuru kicks off on Thursday and runs until Saturday, but Sathekge tells me planning takes place a year in advance. “…to engage stakeholders, forming partnerships and fundraising. The content curation of the festival is the most important element – ensuring that each year we offer an exciting and unique line-up of activities.”
For a second year running, DJ Kenhero will be the Artistic Director of the festival.
True to their style, this year’s line-up is made up of both established and emerging eccentric artists blazing trails in their respective art forms-from poetry, visual art and music. “South Africa has immense artistic talent; most of it is yet to be explored. We believe in developing local talent and contributing the creative economy of South Africa,” Sathekge says. The festival also celebrates food, film as well as design and fashion.
Music generally has the biggest pull at the festival with its two stages. The main one located on Constitutional Square with the nation’s highest court as the backdrop, with the second at the historical Old Fort Parade Ground. Sounds of Freedom, which has in the past drawn over 8 000 youth, will sure do the same this year with a line-up that includes PRO (Kid), Samthing Soweto, spiritual ensemble Sun Xa Experience, Empangeni singer and producer Muzi as well as Skwatta Kamp just to mention a few.
But Sathekge says their team stays informed about what’s happening in the creative scene, so as to provide the best experience of the festival in its entirety through all represented art forms. “Remaining relevant in our programming ensures that we provide meaningful content and that is what draws young people – topical issues and relevance,” she says.