THA BRAVADO

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6min840

MOST people get into thrifting because they honestly can’t afford the day’s fashion, so they take some vintage garments and tweak them here and there to get that drip. It’s a similar formula that Ntokozo Dladla used for his Queen Moraka T-shirts, but instead of using vintage attire he opted for a vintage character.

“Most of my friends had the vintage Rap Tour T-shirts and I really wanted one of my own but things on the financial side of my life were and are still all types of shaky,” Dladla tells me. So out of his need to fit in while simultaneously standing out, he came up with the idea to make his own T-shirt which would be more affordable than purchasing one.

Ntokozo posing with Queen on tha T. Photo by Frans Malesela Kekana

“…I thought about making it about South African musicians, but there are already other street wear lines that have done this. It hit whilst I was thinking about gangster rap, that most of the rappers that told us stories of shoot outs, robberies, gang culture, etc. never even participated in such and all they were presenting to us as listeners was a character!!”

To Dladla, who’s also known as Danger, there’s no difference between Dr. Dre and Queen Moroka because they’re both fictional characters that he connected to while growing up in the streets of Vosloorus.

But like most darkies who grew up in the 90s traditionally watching Generations at 20:00 on Simunye We Are 1, you’d ask yourself why he chose to use Sophie Lichaba’s (formerly known as Ndaba) character, he could’ve gone for a Karabo Moroka, Julia Motene or Ntsiki Lukhele.

Ntokozo with Generation’s Queen. Photo Frans Malesela Kekana

“I won’t lie, I found Karabo Moroka’s character too easy. Like she is definitely a crowd favourite and that comes with automatic success but even though Queen holds the same level of legendary stature, I feel like at the end of the original Generations run she became comic relief and her character could go weeks without showing up and it wouldn’t even effect the storyline. So I chose Queen because I have a warm place in my heart for the under dogs. Plus her whole vibe was about being glamorous which goes well with certain themes I want to play around with especially with clothing.”

The T’s have received good reception from people, with the likes of comedian Okay Wasabi and performer Fella Gucci spotted rocking one. They’re a limited edition. “My problem with most T-shirt brands is that they get one design that works and they just abuse it until we see Small Street put the final nail in the coffin, and I don’t want that I want to always have new ideas and let the old stay in the past,” the illustrator says.

Okay Wasabi rocking Queen. Photo by Daluthando Monageng

The T’s are not under any fashion line, but him as a graphic designer. He sees the work as an addition to his portfolio work and merchandise. “My mentality now, is if I don’t have clients I’ll be my own client.”

Fella Gucci wearing Queen Moroka T. From Facebook

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6min470

PREVIOUSLY the local wine industry had its focus on the export market, but has in recent times recognised the local market as a significant player. The attitude towards wine and its consumption has drastically changed in South Africa in the last decade, especially among urban black people.

My supposition is backed by Dr. Carla Weightman’s 2018 research which focused on the perceptions of local consumers towards wine. The PhD graduate (in wine biotechnology) focused on two specific wine-consuming groups, urban black and white wine drinkers. In years gone by, the latter made up the majority of wine consumers in the urban jungles of the country, but thina abantu have become the leading consumers-accounting for 80% according to Weightman’s research.

Wines in the Moeng Wines’collection. Photo by Moeng Wines

But nothing demonstrates the urban black’s newfound relationship with the beautifully aging drink, like a 22 year-old African owning a brand of wine, purely from passion. He’s 26 years-old now, but Prince Moeng was that 22 year-old when he found Moeng Wines in 2015. “My first encounter was at corporate events and it was love at first sip. I started having wine with all my meals and trying different varietals with it. Then I would do food pairings. It got to a point where I tried a different bottle of wine every day. That is how I grew my love for wine and eventually had the idea of owning my own wine brand. That is when I started researching about the wine industry and the making of wine.  I can’t say I grew up drinking wine as my parents were strict and them being pastors didn’t make my decision any easy,” says Moeng.

Four years in business now, the Moeng Wines is a self-distributed brand which has found its place at selected restaurants around Gauteng, while increasing its market presence through events and collaborations with corporates.  “This means that people that want our wine can visit our website and order directly from there and the wine will be delivered. We also hand pick restaurants and wine bars that meet our standards to distribute our products,” shares Moeng.

Moeng didn’t want to disclose Moeng Wines’ demographics but his hosting of Wine Masterclasses at Mambisa’s monthly entrepreneurs gathering Startup Grind Tembisa, indicates that his brand grows in tandem with urban black people’s appreciation for wines.

Moeng Wines’ white wine.By Moeng Wines

The business was found in Mahikeng but is now based in Centurion. “Some of the challenges about running a winery include distribution, particularly with the high competition in the country. Being based in Gauteng also has its own challenges, with some of the key resources being based in Cape Town.”

Despite the adversities of business, Moeng has had the Deputy Minister of Small Business Department as a guest at their annual gala dinner and Moeng Wines has enjoyed the perks of product placement in the film She Is King.

He runs the brand with a small group of six but like any entrepreneur, he envisions expansion for his business. “We aim at being the premium wine of choice across the continent. We also look into introducing more young wine makers into the industry.”


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5min250

“The entrance of love into sex life…was an advance along the road of human civilization as important as the emancipation of slaves, ” Theodor Reik.

As a complete retard when it comes to dealing with my emotions, I freak the fuck out when an expression of love is directed my way. Except when I find myself butt naked in bed with an absolute thorough bred of a woman, who feels the need to tell a savage, that they are in love with them, on the first night of copulation. Being the thirsty douchebag that I am, my default response in such a predicament, is to dishonestly reciprocate the sentiment with a sultry “I love you too baby”. Regardless of the fact that love is familiarity built over time, nothing will stand between me and the booty (within the confines of the law of course) especially a little white lie about how I feel.

Anyhow

I recently decided to pour some thought into why I am profoundly unsettled by expressions of love, it cannot be healthy that one feels the need to fight or flee when your girlfriend spontaneously buys you a gift because she ‘cares’ about you. Inductively, I am of the belief that love is always offered with expectation. If someone arouses abnormal levels of positive emotions in you (or in your pants) at the first point of interaction. Naturally you hope that the same person can repeat that set effect the next time you meet up or communicate over the phone. If the respective subject of your affection consistently meets your expectations, your affection will turn into love. Thus this love business takes a lot of work and its value is something I am not certain about.

“Love is an ultra-risky business with a lot of pain in store for you, when it does not work out…”

Loneliness is a bitch no doubt about it. People are not designed to be single and sexually frustrated, I am sure a lot of incidences of road rage can be attributed to blue balls and repressed emotion. I can appreciate the necessity of love, it is its price that I am not sure about because it has no guarantees. Many times people have committed to a romantic relationship, only to find out that there partner is promiscuous, mentally unstable, irresponsible with money, an addict, recently had a sex change, lives with their mother etc. love is an ultra-risky business with a lot of pain in store for you, when it does not work out.

I have always been intuitively aware of this, hence I am uncomfortable with expressions of love. Sure love is a beautiful thing,  like a pair of Yeezy 350 zebras but one should ask themselves if they are willing to pay R3500,00 for them or settle for cheap knock-offs bought in small street, Johannesburg CBD. The knock-off Yeezus in this metaphor being a steamy one night stand with an absolute through bred, whom you told you love but ended up blue ticking and never calling them back, ever again.


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8min870

Backpackers don’t get it confused, coz niggas is icy, it ain’t got nothing to do with the music.

Typically, if one were to be quizzed on which emcee dropped that line in a song, the most probable answer would be Lloyd Banks, The Game or a Fabolous, because of their fondness of ice-cold diamonds over their fingers and around their necks hanging like chandeliers. But that’s a line spat by J. Dilla in his track Make Em Envy.

Such is the deliberate and genuine contradiction of this genius producer, who will forever be known as a master sampler who gave our generation unimaginable sounds of Hip Hop, Soul and Jazz. The mention of his name will instantly have you thinking of classic albums such as Like Water For Chocolate by Common, Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and Slum Village’s Fantastic vol.2. Because of the purity and good moral standing of the music he made, people were quick to assume that if he wasn’t behind his MPC chopping beats, he was on the street alongside the Black Panther party preaching Black Nationalism and saluting every black man as his brother. But that wasn’t the case with the man whose real name was James Yancey.

“People put him in a category of what they think he’s like, but they don’t realise he was about his links. Dilla was always telling Madlib ‘man you gotta get your chain, I know a place that’ll do it…” said Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf in documentary.

We often forget that before artists come into their own, they are normal beings that live in an environment that influences how they see and engage with the world. Dilla grew up in the cold streets of Detroit, Michigan around regular niggas you’d find in the hood, who are normally seen as vanity slaves for their appreciation of the finer things in life.

A photo of Hip Hop trio Slum Village, from L-R: J.Dilla, T3 and Baatin

Dilla met T3 and Baatin in high school and they formed what would be known as Slum Village. After releasing their debut album, Fantastic Vol.1 in 1997, the group was hailed as the new Tribe Called Quest – the torch bearers of conscious Hip Hop and all things soulful and Pan African. The comparison bothered Dilla, because Slum’s lyrics weren’t anything adjacent to the stuff Tribe rapped about.

“It was kinda fucked up because people put us in that category. I mean, you gotta listen to the lyrics of the shit. Niggas was talking about getting head from bitches. It was like a nigga from Native Tongues never woulda said that shit. I don’t know how to say it. It’s kinda fucked up because the audience we were trying to give to were actually people we hung around. Me, myself, I hung around regular ass Detroit cats. Not that backpack shit that people kept putting out there like that. I mean, I ain’t never carried no goddamn backpack. But like I said, I understand to a certain point. I guess that’s how the beats came off on some smooth type of shit,” Dilla once said in an interview.

Hip Hop clique Slum Village.

The quote highlights Dilla’s realness to himself and who he is. Being compared to Tribe and the likes of De La Soul, he could’ve easily switched up and ditched the Detroit fella he grew up as, but he never did that. Instead, he chose to vent out his ignant nigga shit through his alter ego, Nigga Man. “…definitely an alter ego, he called him Nigga Man. He’ll start talking about the Range, the Dilla ‘A’ with the fifth wheel on the back…” said August Greene’s Karriem Riggins in the Still Shinning documentary. Dilla’s hood element came out when he stepped in the booth and when he wasn’t creating beats.

It is known that he’s by far the best producer of our time, but his persona is often shelved away as something that wasn’t truly J.Dillaesque. So as you bump your head to some of his most charming beats on this Dilla Month, just get to know the man behind the beat.


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8min381

There is a ninja of mine who is a tenderprenuer, his favourite catch phrase is “everybody speaks from the stomach”. He kept on repeating that annoying-ass phrase as we were vigorously arguing about the moral and social implications of corruption.  The argument took place across the background of eNCA’s live broadcast of the inquiry into state capture.

On a lively Friday afternoon with open beers on the table emotions ran high, as the alcohol ensured that nobody would be pulling back punches in a titanic verbal clash between two know-it-all armchair generals who do not know when to stop. On multiple occasions in the heat of battle I was often struck by flashes of homicidal intent, incapable of processing the words I was hearing from a man whom I considered a friend and a good person.

I am completely convinced that there is a subliminally insidious campaign by Caucasians, Arabs, East Asians and Latin Americans, aimed at demoting the status of black people to that of less than human in the collective consciousness of humanity. The reason they do this, is to justify the criminal exploitation of African resources. While I might not have solid evidence to support my hypotheses, it is close to the truth. My certainty derived from reported and experienced actions of then coloniser. My ninja believes this to be utter nonsense, the paranoid delusions of a naïve idealist and even if I am correct in my assertions. It would not matter if I had “real money” in my bank account.

He is of the view that race is an unprogressive artificial construct, along which people should no longer organize. In the 21st century all that matters is the money. Instead of focusing one’s energy on religious, tribal and academic aspirations, those Africans who are strong enough, should focus on acquiring material wealth at whatever the cost. According to this treacherous shinobi, the ignorant black masses are a lost cause, whose sense of identity and purpose has been irreversibly perverted by centuries of colonisation. Thus when our political, religious, cultural and social leaders sacrifice the futures of black children for financial gain, they are simply saving themselves from an already sinking ship. In the future, my friend deduces, there will only be haves and the have nots, race will not be a factor. Thus it is each person for themselves and god for us all.

Admittedly I have considered embracing my ninja’s loss of faith in our people’s ability to escape the clutches of mass poverty. Which largely stems from the people’s failure to decolonise their minds because if we were to do so, the people would recognize that we do not need the West, nor the east for that matter, in a time where knowledge is readily available. A resource rich continent, such as ours, should not be the basket case that it is at this current moment in space and time. Through tribalism, greed, religious mysticism and hedonism, black people largely remain at the bottom of the pyramid scheme that is capitalist.

With all that taken into consideration, we simply cannot give up on each other. A Tribe Called Quest said it best there’s no space program for niggers.

The money pig’s quest to amass as much wealth as possible, is an act of pure evil. With evil being diametrically opposed to life, with its assertion relative to individual or social interest. The money pig’s hunger for opulence is changing mother Earth’s atmosphere at such an alarming rate, that soon it will become inhabitable for human beings. Simultaneously the money pig is searching for other planets to colonize, them motherfuckers are done with continents, they are levelling up to colonizing planets and you best believe motherfuckers aren’t planning to take any kaffirs with them. They will have artificially aware robots to tend to there every need. Obviously this is a hyperbolic metaphor of the coloniser’s intent but there is more than a grain of truth to it.

Thus I believe a black man’s participation in the corruption of private and public institutions, for whatever reason, is treachery of the highest order. Liberal individualism is not an option for the black person because its logical conclusion is the annihilation of black culture through appropriation and the vilification of black people in the annals of history, through propaganda.

My ninja was insulted by my rationalization but fortunately for our relationship my phone rang. The honies I had organized for the night’s club hopping were at the gate and somebody needed to pay the cab driver. So naturally we put aside the politics to deal with the more important issue of the day, turning up and getting laid.



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