While the majority will make noise about the high youth unemployment numbers, the ubiquity of retrenchments and the paucity of genuine commercial platforms for creatives, this time has also given black youth an opportunity to show their leadership qualities. It was US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. who said genuine leaders do not search for consensus, but are the ones who mould consensus. Lwazi Nonyukela is doing so with his media company, Hip-Hop 411.
“I felt like our stories in underground Hip-Hop weren’t being told enough, commercial platforms are not giving emcees and creatives enough opportunities to showcase their talent and tell their stories, plus I’ve always had the passion to be a Hip-Hop entrepreneur,” the Sowetan from Orlando West tells me.
Founded four years ago, the company specialises in content creation, pre and post production of its visual and audio platforms. Their content celebrates South Africa’s pop culture, largely driven by their passion for the Hip Hop culture. Their involvement in the Hip Hop scene was recognised by the South African Hip Hop Awards “…we were nominated for the Kings Of Gauteng for The South African Hip-Hop Awards for various elements in Hip-Hop before Battle Rap, but Battle Rap brought in a new and extended market to the brand including cyphers that we do across the country,” says Nonyukela.
Ever since the demise of Scrambles4Money there have been sporadic battle leagues around the country, but none have shown the consistency and meticulousness as the Hip-Hop 411 brand. Through their efforts, the league has become the premier battle movement in South Africa, managing to build relationships with brands to sponsor their movement. “…as a brand (Hip-Hop 411) we were able to collaborate with each other by tapping into each other’s markets which brought in huge values by also monetizing our content, growing numbers on social media, and getting more traffic into our website to attract new advertisers and for the battle rappers to see themselves as future brands by utilizing the opportunities we giving them on our platform and to also grow and maintain the culture.”
“I didn’t imagine it to be the home for just Battle Rap in South Africa, but I imagined it to be the home and movement for all cultural Hip-Hop elements in Africa, extending to other continents as well,” a determined Nonyukela tells me.
The involvement of emcee Kriss Anti-B has given the Hip-Hop 411 brand more clout, especially on the battle rap front, thanks to Kriss’ personal brand growth over the last few years in the local Hip Hop scene. “Kriss has been a major boost for the battle rap division in Hip-Hop 411…. he is giving opportunities to a lot of Battle Rappers and emcees from around the country to come and showcase their talent.”
There’s a tad bit of confusion about Kriss’ exact contribution at Hip-Hop 411, with many wrongly assuming he’s the founder of the company. But he’s a content producer for Hip Hop 411 Radio and has his own show, a promoter and Nonyukela also describes him as “a creative director/partner, and a huge ambassador for the brand.”
In his parting shot, Nonyukela says “The long-term objective of the company is to expand its service offering by not just focusing on content creation but participating across all sectors of the Visual, Media and Entertainment industry. This strategy will see the company expanding to 2D and 3D cinema experience, online content creation, digital rendering, application software, co-production to local and African markets (clients) and content creation and distribution.”
With those sort of objectives laid-out, it’s not difficult to foresee a future where young black people such as himself become important role players in our industry. Maybe next time I talk to him, Hip-Hop 411 would have more employees than the 15 he already has working in his team- quelling the noise that comes with high youth unemployment numbers, the ubiquity of retrenchments and the paucity of genuine commercial platforms for creatives.
REMEMBER a few years ago when one fan jubilantly tweeted K.O a photo of himself wearing a Cash Time Life cap and the rapper responded with a sober “But bro, that’s a fake cap tho[sic].”
The bootlegging got so bad, that makeshift Cash Time clothing crept up in countries like Angola and Zambia, to the bewilderment of the owners of the brand. This was during the height of the Cash Time Life clique, when it had the likes of Maggz, Moozlie, Kid X and Ma-E on the stable. The aforementioned artists have since left Cash Time after business turned sour.
Last year K.O relaunched the clothing line and changed the name to DustnKompany and yesterday he got on Twitter to share news that the clothes are now also available at Studio 88, an underrated clothing outlet among youth.
“For the longest time me and Tsholo have had distribution limitations with my clothing line and now through blessings that led to other blessings, Studio 88 has just opened its doors for us,” exclaimed the rapper on social media. The clothes have been available at Joburg’s Fashion Kraal for a while now, but they were restricted to that only store, since their online store seems to be down.
Local fashion designers have to contend with international brands, breaking into the highly competitive industry and on top of that still have to raise funds for collections. Last year it was reported that the clothing industry contributes only 3.3% to the country’s GDP, while it deals with the shedding of jobs, cheap imports and closing down of factories.
But unlike the average designer, K.O’s brand is built around his music which is planted in the hearts and minds of South African youth. They don’t necessarily buy it because it’s the best thing on the market, but because it’s a K.O brand. The consumer feels closer to their favourite artist, by supporting their every cause.
The rapper recently released his album SR2, which scored him two nominations at this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards, in the Best Male and Album of the year category.
A MUSIC video is to a song, what an image with a good caption is to an article. It takes the story forward.
Just five months ago Riky Rick said he was taking a break from the spotlight in the music, but last Friday he surprised most with the release of a spirited track, I Can’t Believe It (Macoins) with gripping visuals.
The song and the video presentation is currently being slept on in the country. According to Riky Rick, some television channels won’t air the video because of the content. He said this while thanking MTV Base on Twitter, for playing the video on their platform.
The ill-judgement of some of our broadcasters is perplexing. Local broadcasters aren’t proactive in their presentation; they always prefer to follow a trend instead of being the ones to initiate the conversation. This is just one of the reasons why television lags behind the net, but not everybody in South Africa can afford to watch videos on YouTube due to exorbitant prices of data.
I can imagine an ocean of people chanting the chorus, when Riky Rick performs this joint live. He repeatedly says he wants more money, then sounds in disbelief in the hook, not because he has gotten what he wants, but at what it cost him it seems. That’s what the visuals relayed.
But instead of money, a group of eccentric individuals seem to desire freedom more than anything- to be themselves within an uncomplimentary society. The freedom comes at a cost though, as one of them commits suicide, which then sparks the revolt. The interesting part is that, everyone fighting for something is part of the riot, not only the small group of friends who lost a comrade.
Directed by Adriaan Louw, the video took the conversation stared by Riky Rick in his rhymes, to another level. They chose the perfect time to shoot this, managing to capture beautiful light under Joburg skies, while Marco Filby’s Art Direction was complimented by the cast’s believability and wardrobe.
With the abrasive, in-your face beat Riky Rick reminds everybody who he is in the music and creative space. Steeped in Hip Hop braggadocio, from the first verse he states why 10 years in the game, he still manages to remain relevant throughout the country. But it’s his second verse on which he bluntly raps
I’m in my element, my regiment
Taking over is imminent,
Drop one song per year, and stay prevalent
Old niggers say my name to stay relevant
I couldn’t help but think of Stogie T when I heard those lines, despite the fact that the two recently settled their feud, which was sparked by Cassper Nyovest saying Stogie did nothing for him, during an acceptance speech at the South African Hip Hop Awards last year. iVenda LaKwaMashu, as Riky Rick is known on Twitter, was in Nyovest’s corner and also slammed Stogie for claiming other artists’ success.
The song has a similar refrain as Pick You Up, which came out earlier this year but unlike that joint, he raps in vernac on I Can’t Believe It (Macoins) and sounds original, rejuvenated and grimier. iVenda LaKwaMashu isn’t the lyrical-miracle typa rapper who will get battle kats like Kriss AntiB and Don Veedo salivating at his every line. But his hooks are catchy and he speaks his truth and a lot of people can relate to that shit.
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.”