Ritual Media

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8min4121

In light of how the Coronavirus has gripped most of the globe, it’s more than understandable why people are being bullied by panic, anxiety and a legit sense of unease when they think of the ramifications of this outbreak. But Back To The City festival founder and organiser Osmic Menoe sees the glass half-full, despite being forced to postpone the annual Freedom Day festival to October this year.

Okamalumekoolkat performing on the Redbull stage at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane
Okamalumekoolkat performing on the Redbull stage at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane

“We had already bought [plane] tickets for the international artists, we had paid the security companies. We do our wristbands in China, so that was already paid for. There’s a project we’ve been working on, we’ve printed CDs and vinyl’s in America…there’s a sizable amount of money already that’s been spent, but the beauty about it is that none of it is a loss because all we just had to do was shift things you know, because these are suppliers we’ve always been working with,” Osmic tells Tha Bravado.

“All we had to do, was to say ‘look, just shift delivery to a later date. Security companies we’ve already paid you, instead of rendering the services in April, you now rendering the services in October’ and another blessing in disguise is that, six month later is another festival-it’s another Back to The City for 2021, so it also enabled us to renegotiate certain contracts and certain deals…and a month later [after October] is the Hip Hop Awards. That also assists in terms of renegotiating things. Yes, there’s money that’s been lost but at the same time, shit happens man.”

Ritual Media, which Osmic owns is behind BTTC, the South African Hip Hop Awards and the South African Hip Hop Museum.  Drudgery is probably not the word to describe the work Ritual Media staff will go through, but they’ll be breaking their sweat in the next 12 months, looking at the proximity of their projects.

For over a decade thousands of youth have religiously gathered in Johannesburg’s Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, to celebrate Freedom Day through Hip Hop. In what was supposed to be the 14th installment of the Back to The City International Hip Hop festival in a few weeks, will now take place on October 10th.

“Obviously we looked at the month of September, we thought there’s Heritage day which is the 24th possibly a lot of people will be doing stuff then. We obviously looked at June and we thought to ourselves chances are, the lockdown might either still be in effect or coming to an end. So for us, seven months away from the said date made a little bit more sense, because number one we’re able to spread messages about our new change and number two, we’re able to make sure that we’re in a safe zone.” October 10th also happens to be World Mental Heal Day.

The festival’s purpose is to celebrate Hip-Hop and youth culture through an afternoon/evening of live performances, graffiti and exhibitions with the aim of bringing the youth back to the city, in Joburg. The show features artists representing different corners of South African Hip Hop. This unique youth event is a first of its kind in South Africa. The showcase is always full of activities such as a mini educational Summit, live performances, skateboarding, BMXing, live graffiti art, merchandising and exhibitions, all under the bridge at the corners of Henry Nxumalo and Bree streets.

A skater at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane
CAPTURED ONA BOARD: A skater at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane

This year’s BTTC was understood to be the penultimate after Osmic announced that end of the festival’s run a few years ago. There was incontestable conviction about the festival not ever happening, with fans even being sold end of day ticket packages until a beverage broke the thirst. “Hennessy is now our official naming partner, hence the festival is called Hennessy Back To The City International Hip Hop festival. We’re joined at the hip for the next coming three years. For the fact that we’ve got someone [Hennessy] who believes in culture and whose been in culture for so long. It’s also something very new for them to partner with something that’s very large scale, you it’s an exclusive brand. It just goes to show how much they believe in African Hip Hop”

Clement Gama01/16/2019
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5min2220

IN A move that was expected in at least three years, Riky Rick has heeded the call for a big scale event that will take over from Hip Hop festival Back To The City after Ritual Media announced last year that the international festival would come to an end in 2021.

Social media was flooded with news of Riky Rick’s curated music festival next month which is to celebrate music and fashion, as he released a line-up of South African Hip Hop acts who are established and those who aren’t in the mainstream.

“Mainly set to showcase the diversity while fusing the gaps within various Hip Hop sounds and local movements, the Cotton Fest will not only bring together and unite over 80 unique acts divided over two stages, but will celebrate fashion in its various spheres,” read the statement.

The long list of performers and the space for fashion is very much similar to what BTTC did for over a decade now on every Freedom Day. BTTC was founded by Osmic Menoe and Dominique Soma in 2007 and has been an institution of the Hip Hop culture in its entirety. With B-Boys, Graffiti artists, fashion designers, skaters and ballers-everyone involved in the culture was catered for.

But a lot of dissatisfaction from fans with BTTC was with how Osmic and his team never brought an international act which was current and popular among with the youth, i.e a GoldLink or Mick Jenkins. In an interview in 2014, when they had brought old school rapper Jeru The Damaja to the country, Osmic the founder of Ritual Media said the reason for bringing old school kats was a way of giving the old heads in attendance something to enjoy as well, as the line-up is dominated by new generation of emcees.

Osmic speaking at Ben Sharpa’s memorial service. By Sip The Snapper

It’s to be seen whether the Cotton Fest has observed that plea from the people to not bring has-been artists to South Africa. There will be a surprise act on the day; whether that act is an international performer or not, it will be seen on February second.

The inaugural BTTC was held on the corner of Bree and Henry Nxumalo Streets under the bridge, attracting 3500 people and has grown over the years to numbers above 20 000 and is hosted at Mary Fitzgerald Square.

The Cotton Fest will be hosted at The Station near Nelson Mandela Bridge and the one-priced tickets will be limited to only 5000 attendees. Just like BTTC, one can foresee Cotton Fest growing in numbers and heading to Mary Fitzgerald Square in a few years, which will complete the transition of the guard in Newtown and Hip Hop.

 

Clement Gama11/07/2018
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BACK from a brief self-imposed hiatus, Nasty C receives a handful of nominations for this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards.

After feeling unappreciated for his efforts in 2016, Nasty C boycotted last year’s SAHHA, this was during his time as a Mabala Noise artist. Now under Universal Music Group, real name David Junior Ngcobo, seems to have had a change of heart towards the awards. “There’s no one we actually have a problem with and speaking on the Nasty C issue, we’re still not aware why they chose not to send, but it’s always love. The awards are for the community,” founder and organiser Osmic Menoe says.

Nasty C has had an amazing year, avoiding any possible sophomore jitters, he released Strings and Bling this year and has managed to stay in conversation prior and post release.

He was recently part of BET’s SA cypher together with fellow current chief emcees A-Reece and Shane Eagle. Strings and Bling is nominated in the album of the category, where Nasty C will battle it out with Da Les’ High Life, Cebisa by Zakwe, Baby Brother ya Blaklez and K.O’s SR2.

For his pen game on Strings and Bling, he is nominated in the salivating Lyricist of The Year together with Zakwe, Stogie T, Ginger Breadman and PDotO. The Best Remix, Collab, Radio Show, Video, Song of the year and Best Male and Female categories will be voted for by the public. The awards take place at Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre for the seventh consecutive time on December 19. “We have made a home out of the venue, we appreciate the professionalism and love they always show to the awards,” says Osmic.

Nasty C is nominated twice in the Song of the Year category, for Send Me Away and his collaborative joint with A$AP Ferg, King.  The same track is nominated as one of the best collabos of the year, together with Boity’s mystifying Wuz Dat. Nasty C is nominated eight times, or nine if the collab with Boity is included. Also in there is DJ Speedsta and OKMalumKoolKat in Combos Communicating, Riky Rick’s Stay Shinning with Cassper Nyovest, Professor and Major League DJs- among the list of 10 tracks nominated.

The ceremony will be broadcast on SABC 1, after being on e.TV and MTV Base in previous years. “We still with SABC 1 after the good numbers last year of 2 million viewers. We felt at home and appreciated the fact that they were willing to take a chance.”

Other artists who have a slew of nominations are Zakwe, Kwesta and Riky Rick.

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SOUTH African Hip Hop Awards submissions for this year’s ceremony are open, and anyone can submit. Even Nasty C.

“There’s no one we actually have a problem with and speaking on the Nasty C issue, we’re still not aware why they chose not to send, but it’s always love. The awards are for the community,” founder and organiser Osmic Menoe says.

Speaking to Tha Bravado, the man known as Ace Of Spades says the air is clear for even those who boycotted the awards in the past. Last year rapper Nasty C snubbed the awards, by not submitting any of his music because he felt unappreciated by the organisers in 2016.

Four years ago, K.O together with his whole CashTime Company pulled the same move, because they felt as though the awards weren’t transparent enough. But K.O has since ironed issues he had with Ritual Media and he submitted last year.

The submissions have been open since Monday and will close in two weeks. “The nominated art form must be released or occur in South Africa”, the press release read. “Any SA Hip Hop album, mixtape, video, event or song that was released, impactful or effective during 15th September 2017 to 15th September 2018.”

The awards are taking place at the Lyric Theare in Gold Reef City for the seventh consecutive time. Those who believe in that number as being a symbol of completion, would suggest that this be their last year hosting at the venue.

Although Ritual Media doesn’t have a contract with the Lyric, it just so happens to be a place that has accommodated the awards. “We have made a home out of the venue, we appreciate the professionalism and love they always show to the awards,” says Osmic.

The awards have settled on an abode to broadcast the ceremony in the SABC 1, after being on e.TV and MTV Base in previous years. “We still with SABC 1 after the good numbers last year of 2 million viewers. We felt at home and appreciated the fact that they were willing to take a chance.”

The awards take place on December 19th

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10min5532

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.

Las Days These days(from L-R): Bonafide, Landmarq and Baggz. Photo Supplied

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.”


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