Q&A with Zakwe

23-year-old rapper, Zakwe, is a young man with a steep road ahead of him. He has chosen a path that is littered with casualties. He has chosen to venture into a world that applauds shallow thought and rampant avarice. He has chosen to be a rapper!

The journey to Hip Hop stardom is a perilous one. Most get booed until they dissolve into a puddle of tears and the rest get strangled by dismal sales or pummeled by the rising cost of looking like you have money, or all of the above.

So just by jumping into this precarious world Zakwe already has his work cut out for him. But instead of just going with the swagerrous flow he has opted to swim against the tide. No frills, no funny dance-step and no lies about BMWs. What you get from a Zakwe track is a whole lot of lyrics, mountains of verses and some words sprinkled over all of it. The beat seems to be an afterthought. It’s clear where he wants your attention focused. The brother is not trying to make you dance or dream of riches. He wants you deep in thought about…um…to be honest, he lost me in the vernac.

The torrential downpour of Zulu washed my attention away instead of drawing me in. I found the verbiage to be quite cumbersome. But what do I know? I’m quite the girly-girl when it comes to Hip Hop. I like my Hip Hop well-marinated in bass, deep-fried in swag with a side order of dance. Rick Ross, Drake and J. Cole are my people. When I want to get ‘deep’ I turn to my bookshelf for the treasured company of Tolstoy, Marquez and Morrison.

Fortunately for Zakwe the number of people who suffered the same fate as me seems to be a small one. Overall, his appearance on the scene is being met with applause and respect. His single ‘Benzani’ is enjoying a generous amount of attention on radio. It even reached number one on Yfm’s Hot 99 Hip Hop countdown. He sees the role of rapper in today’s society as being, “To paint a picture in a rhyming format and be the mirror of the concept of a track.” Pretty vague, but it seems to be working for him.

Zuluboy, Pro, Proverb, Abdus, Mr. Selwyn, and AKA make the list of his favourite rappers. There is a theme running through this list. These are guys who have tried to carve out their own identity in the music scene, as opposed to regurgitating what is already being done. It’s no surprise then that his advice to young rappers is, “Don’t do what sells, sell what you do!”

That may be the key to surviving the perils of the Hip Hop world. It’s a recipe that’s working well for Zakwe. His decision to turn his back on the fluff and produce music of substance seems to be paying dividends. He kindly answered some questions for this Hip Hop Girly-Girl. Read the full story

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Book Review: Attuned Leadership by Dr. Reuel J. Khoza

May I just go ahead and be unashamedly honest? I have not been so intimidated by a book in a very long while. As I paged through this behemoth of a book my mind knotted with every diagram I saw and the bile in my stomach released thick bubbles as I carefully read the intimidating headings that stand guard at the gates of every chapter. What were they thinking when they asked me to review this book? I like to think that kneaded into that mysterious answer is a very sweet compliment. The version doing the rounds in my mind is that they took a look at all the intelligence, deep and intricate thought and naturally my name came to mind. Hey, play nice. Don’t laugh at my theory.

The author has spent more time in the bowels of the academia than I have been alive. Dr. Khoza’s qualifications include a BA Hons in Psychology, MA in Marketing, EngD (Business Leadership) and LLD (Honoris Clausa). He is Emiratus Professor Extraordinaire of the University of Stellenbosch Business School and Visiting Professor of Rhodes Investec Business School. Basically, what this all means is that he may know a thing or two about leadership.

Attuned Leadership by Reuel J Khoza is a doozy of a book. It is both heavy in weight and heavy in content. To put it very simply, it is a study of Leadership. What is it? What makes a good leader? What shapes them? History? Culture? Politics? Religion? All these options, and then some, are explored exhaustively. The aim is to figure out how one becomes not just a leader, but an ‘Attuned Leader.’ There are a plethora of leaders out there, but 99% percent of them are not attuned to that which they are attempting to lead or where they are trying to go. Many of them are making due with only a tattered understanding of that which they claim to be doing.

My thesaurus lists the following words as synonyms for attuned: accustom, adjust, adapt, acclimatize, condition, accommodate, assimilate and acclimate. If I understand Dr. Khoza correctly (it is very possible that the point he was trying to make flew way over my head) successful leaders pay attention. They pay close attention to the people they are leading, where they want to lead these people to, what they are leading the people out off, the potholes on the road ahead and the diamond encrusted wisdom embedded in the footsteps left by the leaders who walked this steep road ahead of them.

It’s no secret that Africa – scrap that – the entire continent is suffering from an Attuned Leadership drought. When the sweet rain of good leadership does not rain, the treasured crops of our dreams will not grow and our future will succumb to the famine of knowledge and die a slow death as a fly-infested baby.

I make light of receiving this book, but fact is I’m glad for its entry in my life. I’ll be pilfering quotes from this one for decades to come. It should be compulsory reading for everybody – especially folks in youth leagues (hint hint). They should make microchips of it and implant it into the heads of all newborn babies. The world’s future might actually stand a chance then.

–          Keitumetse Segoai

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Book Review: Hooked

Melinda Ferguson – South Africa’s favourite former junkie – has followed the shocker of a memoir ‘Smacked’ with something easier to digest. Hooked is the story of  ‘after the story’. What happens after you have been gang raped? What happens after you have conquered the hellacious addiction and you now have your comfy job at a nice magazine and you get invited to fancy fragrance launches? What happens when you’ve aired your dirty laundry and gotten buckets of laudation for it? Well…you watch Oprah. Duh.

I opened this book rather timidly. The publishers had sent me a heady stash of books to read. When I looked them over and saw Melinda’s name ablaze on the cover in a cautionary yellow, I decided to heed the warning and leave her book for last. I had heard about this Melinda. She was the one who had surfed the flaming waves of danger, given the devil the finger and lived to tell the tale. ‘Smacked’ was legendary stuff! I cannot emphasize enough how much you need to read that book.

Eventually I galvanized my energies and plunged into Hooked. I wondered, what has Melinda been up to now? She couldn’t possibly have landed up in a bigger lump of manure than the last one she was rolling around in; please tell me she’s not back to her old ways! I am pleased to report all is well with Melinda. She has not relapsed…thank God. She has not shaved her head, or resigned herself asceticism. Dare I say it? Melinda Ferguson is now… normal? Read the full story

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Getting to Know J-Something

With all due respect to Zahara, Big Nuz, AKA, and whoever else is vying for the crown of King of December 2011, I hereby announce that this summer belongs to the Mi Casa boys. Mo-T, Dr Duda and J’Something have combined their forces to create one of the country’s hottest bands… ever! Their debut album Mi Casa Music is a must-buy for this summer.

What this trio proves is that House music is indeed growing. Gone are the days of it being about nauseatingly repetitive beats put together in someone’s dirty bedroom on a cheap keyboard. House music now features live instruments, creative compositions and vocals so soulful Marvin Gaye himself looks down from heaven and nods in approval. Mi Casa is Soul Candi’s first live House band.

The trinity that is Mi Casa came together when Dr. Duda heard Joao innocently strumming away on guitar and singing sweet nothings at the Soul Candi studios. Dr. Duda, being a man with an intelligent ear, promptly suggested that the two of them collaborate. Soon after that J’Something had a chance meeting with Mo-T and voila Mi Casa was born.

The guys have achieved a healthy balance of creative power between them. Nevertheless, respectfully I submit that it is J’Something who gets most of the brass thrown at him. Mr Soulful Vocals has the country’s female population swooning. Should his vocals only get the job half done the lyrics he pens will have you jotting down your numbers for him. His Portuguese blood gives him an unfair advantage. I imagine him uttering sultry Portuguese pick-up lines in an Antonio Banderas-esque accent and accomplishing in one line what other guys need months to do.

Joao Fonseca was born in Portugal but he moved to SA when was 7 years old… so sorry Portugal, we’re claiming him as our own! He is only 22 years old now (cute man) so ladies please restrain yourselves when he gets on stage. As young as he is, he is already a respected figure in the music scene. He has worked with RJ Benjamin and DJ Ganyani and has Mzansi’s top DJs queuing up to feature him on their tracks.

Let’s have a sit down with him and find out what potting behind the scenes:

Describe the Mi Casa sound?
We like to describe the sound as ‘soulful house’ infused with jazz and gospel influences.

How did that style develop?
I have grown up with soul-filled music. Dr. Duda has the gospel roots, whilst Mo-T is a jazzman through and through. And then all 3 of us have been listening to house music since our minds can remember.

Your vocal style is very soulful, are there perhaps other genres of music that you draw inspiration from?
 Soul, soul, and more soul. I love the neo stuff. Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton, Dwele, John Legend, Jill Scot, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, honestly the list is endless.

When did you start singing and playing the guitar?
I started singing from my mother’s womb I think. My mom always tells me that the doctors were very worried about me when I popped out. I wasn’t crying. I later started laughing. I’ve been singing properly since the age of 5. Doing little concerts for my family and demanding them to pay. Guitar came when I was 11 but it lasted for only 6 months. Then I picked it up again when I was 16 at school.

J’Something going solo? Read the full story

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Getting To Know Josi Chave

25-year-old Josi Chave is a man on a mission. In a country where every second person wants to be a DJ it takes something really special for someone to rise above the riffraff and be noticed. Josi seems to have found the path that leads right to the top. His secret seems to be to not put all his eggs in one basket. In addition to being a DJ he also owns the record label Blacknoize Records and co-hosts the popular show The Warehouse with fellow Yfm DJs Ankle Tap and Just Mo. Josi explains that “It’s a Dance show for all the born again House heads every Saturday at 3pm.”

Oskido, Black Coffee, DJ Gregory and Dead Mau5 are just some of the DJs that keep him inspired. The trouble began back in 2000 when he was 14 years old. He started playing at House parties. In no time he was doing clubs and corporate events. Fast forward to 2011. This year sees the release of his latest compilation Black Frequency. Die-hard SA music fans will be pleased to know that this compilation is free of international interference. All the tracks are locally produced. Gone are the days when we relied on folks way overseas to get our parties started. It is evident from the first track that Josi’s style has been enriched by an expansive array of musical genres. Should you see Josi cruising along the high way chances are he won’t be bopping his head to a House song. He lists Hip Hop, Kwaito and Reggae as some of his favourite genres.

Josi sheds some light on some challenges and misconceptions that plague DJs; he also gives some advice to all aspiring DJs that could help you avoid some major music industry potholes.

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A Decade of Music, Freshlyground Celebrates

South Africa’s favourite hippie band is celebrating ten years in the industry. For some, the journey has been a short ten years overflowing with felicity; for others it’s been a long arduous ten years of wondering when will this band just pack up their gear and call it a day. Let’s be honest, Freshlyground is one of those bands that you either love or hate. There is no middle ground (cheesy I know, but it works). Considering that they have 4 successful albums, umpteen hits, an MTV Europe Award and 8 SAMAs on their shelf, the scale does seem to be tipping towards applause not booing.

It’s been a vibrant 10 years. Their ultimate moment has to be the 201 Fifa Soccer World Cup anthem Waka Waka – which I never got around to liking – that procured the band some valuable time on the world stage. The collaboration with Shakira was blasted from radios wherever a soccer ball was being kicked, which was pretty much across this planet.

There was also that tiff with Robert Mugabe. In 2010 he banned the band from performing in Zimbabwe. The song ‘Chicken to Change’ is what discomposed Mugabe. ‘Chicken to Change’ spoke of a leader who had forgotten all about the noble ideals he once had and had instead disintegrated into a decrepit tyrant. “You promised to always open the doors for us. Indeed it is you and only you who sleeps with the keys,” sang lead singer Zolani. Just in case the lyrics didn’t get the message across, the video cleared up any confusion. The band teamed up with the controversial cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro to create a rather quirky but forthright video. It’s definitely worth a trip to YouTube land. Read the full story

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Q&A with Kelly Esterhuyse

22-year-old designer Kelly Esterhuyse is this year’s winner of the Elle New Talent Design Awards. Kelly showcased her designs alongside 7 other hopefuls at this year’s South African Fashion Week recently. Trend analyst and chief judge of the competition Dion Chang had this to say about the show, “The level of entrants was high this year and the judges faced an enormous task to choose one winner.”

What raised Kelly’s work above that of her companion was her visionary use of a rather neglected South African gem – Mohair. Did you know that South African Mohair is some of the most sought-after Mohair in the world? Despite this fact South African designers have remained rather oblivious to it or they have simply shied away from the challenges it presents as a medium for design expression.

Well Kelly has boldly gone where no man has gone before (I was once a Star Trek fan). She tackled this precarious element and came out the victor. Dion Chang added, “Ultimately what made Kelly’s range stand apart was her ingenious use of a much underutilized resource in South Africa – merino wool.  Knitwear has not appeared in a major way in this competition before and we liked her use of a local, indigenous textile which needs to be promoted.” Read the full story

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Book Review: We Are

Natalia Molebatsi

Natalia Molebatsi has compiled put together a rich collection of vibrant poems from some of most intriguing female poets out there. With each poem this anthology gently guides you through both the plains and jungles of femininity. The honesty is refreshing and the quality is inspiring. Each poem is a universe of possibilities. Contributors include Shelley Barry, Malika Lueen, Sabata Mpho Mokae and Otumile Shupinganeng amongst others. What is striking is that each poet has her own unique voice but they still manage to come together and perform harmoniously.

–         Keitumetse Segoai

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Southern African women are the fattest in the world. There I said it! Now please don’t send me any venomous comments! You can channel your frustrations in the general direction of Canada. Some very educated researchers from the Imperial College London and McMaster University in Canada established this fact – yes it’s a fact, not a hypothesis, not something you can shoo away like an irritating dog. It’s a cold hard fact. Just to rub some salt into the wound the researchers went on to say that what is affecting Southern African women is in fact a “Tsunami of obesity that will eventually affect all regions of the world.” The situation is such that if you do lose weight people actually start thinking that you either got dumped, fired or you’re sick. With each kilogram you lose the fervor of the gossip about your health goes up a notch.

I don’t know what’s more sad: the fact we are the fattest women in the world or the fact that I was not in the least surprised by the findings! I dare all the women reading this to look at the world like men do. Next time you go shopping, study the bodies of the women around you. Don’t just see them – look at them. Do this for at least a week and then tell me how many fit and body-beautiful people you saw. How many people did you see who had sexy fit legs, and flat stomachs and toned arms? Now how many people did you see with what are popularly called ‘love handles’ – don’t get me started on that name? How many people do you know personally that are actually thoroughly happy with their bodies? Are you happy with your body?

Shall I now add some icing to the cake? The Canadian researchers are not the only ones getting these unflattering results.  An alarming article was published in the Gaurdian.co.uk. It was about a survey Glaxo Smith and Kline (GSK) recently did. According to the survey, “61% of South Africans are overweight, obese or morbidly obese.

Further findings were that 49% of South Africans do not exercise and 71% have never dieted. Most worryingly, 17% of children under nine are overweight. The survey also found a gap between perception and reality: 78% of obese people and 52% of morbidly obese people regard themselves as somewhat healthy or very healthy. Some 42% have no health concerns and only 47% recognise that exercise and physical fitness are critical.”

“Meanwhile, 74% of South Africans think their fellow citizens are overweight and only 34% consider themselves as overweight or obese.” People are in denial and don’t realise how overweight they are,” said Girling. “Unbelievably, when they are overweight they consider themselves as healthy.” Read the full story

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Forbes Africa: And the Launch Cover Feature is…?

forbes africa

So I’m a little disappointed. Every so often the stars align and give us an opportunity to shine. Such an opportunity presented itself this past week when Forbes Africa was launched. A while back I wrote a piece speculating on who would be the lucky bugger to grace the cover of the mag. I was hoping for some innovation. I was hoping the magazine would grab this opportunity to tell us something we don’t know and show us a face we had not seen. They chose to not do that. Guess who they put on the cover? South Africans will no doubt get this right.

Before I get labelled as a jealous hater, let it be known that I am avid admirer of the man. He is undoubtedly The Man. I have nothing but bucket loads of applause for him. It is always a pleasure to hear of his success, even though no matter how much I read about his ever-increasing mountain of millions my bank balance remains the same. I wish just reading about rich people made their wealth rub off on you.

Patrice Motsepe “Africa’s Man of Mettle” stands tall and proud on the cover, the definition of power. I’m guessing the logic is if they put some unknown face on the cover we’ll just walk right past it. Patrice has a pull effect the magazine wanted to take advantage of. I feel like a child. Remember those moments when your parents were right and that annoyed you to no end. They’re right; I can’t eat that much pudding, but eish I still want the stuff. The editors are right, Patrice is the perfect man for the first cover, but Read the full story

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Book Review: The Lion

After the calm of The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda, I need something to shake me out of my mental lassitude. No offence to the man, but there is an extreme shortage of adrenaline in his stories. I figured a book titled The Lion should have some thrill hiding out between its pages. As I turned the pages I got the stuff in bucket loads. The Lion by Nelson Demille is not bedtime reading; it’s the book you read in the morning to launch you into your day.

The Lion is in fact Asad Khalil, a Libyan terrorist. He is the Muslim extremist that Muslim extremists are afraid of. He is narrow-minded, disciplined, and so well trained that even the guy who trained him is afraid of him. As far as he is concerned mercy is a superfluous distant planet and forgiveness is a rare form of algae that grows at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean – he sees no need for either of them.

Just the kind of guy you want to meet in a dark ally. You know how these things go. If there is a “bad guy” then we need a “good guy” to balance things out. John Corey is not a cucumber-sandwich-with-the-crust-cut-off kid of guy. Compared to Asad he’s the “good guy” – which isn’t saying much, because compared to Asad, Charles Manson is a good guy. John’s got a bit of an attitude problem, major authority issues and a dash of an alcohol problem. But at the end of the day, if your ass needs saving this is the dude you want leading the cavalry. Read the full story

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I forget how well I speak English. I’m surrounded by people that speak English just as well as I do and their accents are just as glassy as mine. It’s when I travel beyond my safe suburban circle that I’m galvanized out of my language torpor and reminded that English is not supposed to be the language that flows out my mouth the easiest.

The milieu of culture we enjoy in Johannesburg can be quite beguiling. We end up knowing a little Zulu, a little Tswana and a little Sotho – just enough to get by. This practice has lulled me into being jack-of-all-trades but a master of none – none of the indigenous languages that is.

English remains my anchor. I was educated in English. We speak English at home (don’t act like you don’t). My friends speak English. My enemies speak English. My entertainment is in English. My doctor speaks English. My preacher speaks English. My boss speaks English. My world runs on a fuel called: English.

Some years ago, I attended a poetry session of sorts at a school in a very remote location – this place was nestled between I-think-I’m-lost and The-middle-of-nowhere. The teachers there were concerned that their students were not taking English seriously enough. Matric students had the comprehension abilities of 8th graders. So they pulled together some kids from city who speak English well to come and try talk some sense into these kids. Let them know that without a proper grasp of the English language you’re pretty much screwed.

My fellow Ambassadors of English and I traipsed along for most of the day, going on and on about how important it is to speak English. It will help you do better at Varsity. It will help you get a job. It’s ‘the language of power’ as they say, etcetera, etcetera. They nodded and seemed to be getting the point we were trying ever so gallantly to make.

Then came the poetry portion of the day, and suddenly these same kids that were yawning all day came to life and unleashed their genius on us. I’m a pretty tough nut to crack when it comes to poetry. There’s just one too many people out there that think they’re poets simply because they can rhyme time with slime and pantomime. These kids suffered no such delusions. These kids were so thoroughly saturated in talent they left Read the full story

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An International Heritage

A new tribe has blossomed. A new tribe has emerged as on the vast plains of time as is rapidly usurping the land from previous stakeholders. It’s not just the corporations that are going global. Our cultures and heritage are also now a harlequin amalgamation of international influences.

This Heritage Day I find that I be amiss if I celebrated only that which I have amassed from within the borders of this country. Geographically, yes I did not have an international upbringing but since when is ones nourishment confined to mere geography? Marvin Gaye played just as big a role in my life – if not more – than say, Lucky Dube. I have rich memories of being a bushy haired toddler singing along to both their music.

We really are blessed beyond comprehension to be living in an age where we can share our respective cultures freely as well as glean from each other’s histories. I believe that the richer you are in history the less precarious your standing will be. The better versed you are in the victories and challenges that have been accomplished by your predecessors the more time you will spend being victorious.

South Africa is loaded with inspiring leaders. We are after all home to one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved leaders of all time. Let me help the slow folks out – Nelson Mandela. His accomplishments alone possess the power to leave in awe for at least 5 lifetimes. But in this global communication age we get to enjoy, why stop there? You could easily just click click your way into American history and let Martin Luther King be a part of your heritage. You could sail on down south and get some lessons from Evita in Argentina. Ancient Chinese philosophy is available on bookshelves across the country. Read the full story

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Pushing Boundaries to be the Fattest Woman!

My parameters for crazy are pretty wide. It takes quite an effort to shock me. I’ve just seen, heard and experienced way too much to be easily frazzled. It’s been a while since I last heard something that genuinely made say, “what!” loud enough to fill the eyes of the people around me with question marks. What caused my consternation? Well there is a woman out there in this big bad world that is actually trying to be the fattest woman in the world. No dear, that was not a typo! While the rest of us are trying to head in the opposite direction. Susanne Eman is trying to reach her dream weight of wait for it…730kg

The mother of 2 already weighs 330kg, and if you do the maths you’ll see that that’s not even half of her dream weight. 365kg will be the halfway point. Susanne told The Daily Mail, “I’d love to find out if it’s humanely possible to reach a ton.” Mara why Suzy? I wonder if it’s humanely possible to levitate, but you don’t catch me frantically flapping my arms about to achieve this feat. That would be stupid, crazy and hazardous to my social life. Susanne dearest, some things just need to stay in the wonderful realm of imagination.

She went on to say, ‘the bigger I get, the better I feel. I feel more confident and sexy. Why shouldn’t I push the limits and see how fat I can get and stay healthy?’ Suzy bathung! I think she needs to research what “healthy.” Despite being unemployed she and her sons manage to fill 6 trollies to the max once a month. It takes them 8 hours to get this done. Who is funding this Read the full story

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