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
The streets of Gugulethu weren’t the most life-filled streets in South Africa, especially when you start listening to the stories echoed by the gutters of Soweto. Gugulethu was safe. My parents would be up at 5am trying to catch the earliest bus so that they could make it to work by 7.30am. We would play ball games right after school until it was dark. On Fridays we’d play until ten so my mother bought a floodlight and placed it in front of the house so we could play longer.
There were those overly competitive girls and there were those that were less interested in the game and more in the boys that rocked up. They would steal a kiss and cuddle for a few minutes with their boys and wait for the floodlight to go off as a sign that they should head on home. I was one of those girls. All I can tell you is that he was the best basketball player that anyone had ever come across and he was all mine. Okay I lie, there were a few of us. I was young and naïve – shoot me! He was my first love but he wasn’t my soulmate or the love of my life. I just really loved him for 4 years. We’re great friends now.
My friends also had their own boyfriends at the time. They were in black schools and I went to an English school for most of my life, but you couldn’t tell the difference between us because their English was just as good. But behavior-wise…we were on separate poles. They were very traditional and saw things in black and white; there were rules set by people who survived in the primitive era and these were passed onto them by their parents and they would simply abide. While on the other side, I was more up for debating and shredding every single one of those rules. There were many examples of how they thought I was behaving “out of order” – like the wearing a stunning white dress and looking like Cinderella while they wore Levis jeans and white Aca Joe shirts with All Stars – you see that was not on. I couldn’t look like a princess when they were looking like they were confused lesbians. This also made things difficult because their boyfriends used to hit on me – I think it was because I was different.
Apart from our differences, it was always great hanging with the girls. I knew that no matter what happened they’d be there for me. The only concern I had was when they’d tell me about their relationships. They were already intimate with their guys and I was still a virgin. So I found their stories quite entertaining. Even though I thought that there was a standard rule that we were all supposed to wait until we were 21 to break our virginity. So whilst they told me about their not-so-exciting sex lives, in the same breath and sentence, they would switch to how these guys hit them.
I’m like: Hold on! Wait a minute! This isn’t one of those slap my butt and call me sugar mama moments. They explained to me that it was definitely a Bam! Slap in the face, “Sfebe uthi k’theni” moments. My jaw dropped every time I heard this. I was told not to worry because this was normal. NORMAL? The world must be going crazy!
The beatings happened more and more. It would start with “iTake-5” (slap-bam across the face), to a double-take (using both hands on each cheek at the same time), then followed by a fly kick in abdominal area and ending it off with an arm twist from the back. I swear it was as if these boys were watching too much of Jackie Chan or Van Damme movies! This occasionally happened in the middle of the street just when night was about to creep in. How convenient, in the dark – talk about romance. They say “azingenwa” Read the full story
Tell us about yourself?
I am Thabo Moloi, originally from kwaMachisiba in Pietermatrizburg. I am a freelance graphic designer and a photographer. I design logos, t-shirt, business cards, and more. And as a photographer, I enjoy pushing the boundaries of creativity. I have a passion for community development, education, and sharing knowledge. I am a radical Christian and a huge fan of Mzansi Hip Hop.
Who inspires you?
Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, founder of CrazyBoyz Digital and the AmaKipKip guys: Nkosana Modise and Siyabonga Ngwekazi. I feel they have changed the game and are now reaping the rewards of their hard work.
How do you define success?
Success is personal. Often we place benchmarks on success based on material things, such as what car you drive and where you live. However, to me, it is about doing what you love and helping others in the process. I’ve seen many people who are said to be successful but have separated themselves from their communities. Your success should open doors for others.
Every now and then I am blessed enough to meet individuals whose lives excite me so much so that I ignore the facts and figures of how unemployment, poverty and crime bring down this country of ours. It is people like Pule EARM Motloung, the founder of Young Minds Productions, who through their lives and passion inspire me to be much more than I am. I love meeting young black men and women from the hood who rise above the stereotypical view that township life is about dust, corrugated iron shacks, “stop nontsontso” fencing and abolova sitting in the corner doing nothing everyday.
Recently the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus successfully hosted a private screening of a film called Soweto Drift. The film was directed by one Mzansi’s most promising and gifted film directors Pule, a young man who refused to be told “You can’t” by experts, professionals and know-it-alls with years of experience in the industry. When money was an issue, when time became a factor and when critics said “No” what kept Pule going during the 3 years it took to make the film was the passion and dedication he has towards his craft. The director, father and dream chaser took the initiative to show, highlight and celebrate the silent yet noisy world of car spinning.
The film was shot in the heart of Soweto and set around realistic everyday characters we can all relate to. The movie introduces us to a young taxi driver and struggling father named Dumisani, nicknamed Damage, who is on a journey towards finding out the truth about what events led to the death of his hero and brother Mzala, who was one of the best car spinners in the hood. After being forced by a gang leader named Chairman as well as a sworn enemy named Ngamla to take part in one of the most prestigious spinning competitions of the season, we watch Damage take a drastic yet necessary turn in his character, career and life as a whole. The twists, turns and secrets are then slowly revealed and force Damage to come out of his comfort zone and become the best that he can be.
The film’s genre is in a class of its own in that it is a combination of comedy, drama and sport fused with raw talent fused from the backbone of ekasi. The film achieved everything it set out to achieve; it showcased and exposed us to unscripted, adrenalin rushing car spinning. The soundtracks were fresh and relevant to each scene, the dialogue kept audiences intrigued and entertained while at the same time schooling us about the world of burning tyres, mags, spinners, speed and BMWs. The film created a much needed awareness about spinning industry and will be released to the public in 2012. Not everyone will be able to identify with the storyline but watching it is definitely worth the thrill! It is through Pule EARM and films such as this that indeed agree and back up the famous saying “Ikasi livukile”.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and for Lebogang Lekwae, better known as Azania Lab Tafari, telling stories through the good eye of a camera lens is a way for him to communicate with the universe and share stories that affect society.
His passion for photography started out when his father used to take him with to weddings and community events to take pictures. Starting off, Lebogang wasn’t so keen on taking pictures but saw it as an opportunity to earn extra pocket money and he took over from his father. He soon realised that there was a lot more he could do with a camera. His works on social documentary started out eKasi in Vosloorus where he captured pictures that showed another side to the township. He took pictures that were thought-provoking, showing the day to day lives of people from informal settlements that surround the township.
Lebogang’s work is influenced by his love for people and conversing with them to find out how they keep up with conditions they live under.
Lebogang’s first exhibition was alongside South Africa’s living legend in photography Mr. Alph Khumalo, the man behind the famous pictures on the historic event of the Soweto uprising in 1976. The exhibition, based at Roots Gallery in Soweto, captured the modern day scholar. The response was great. Lebogang is now currently studying at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. He vows that he will soon be running his own photo studio, where people will be able get pieces of his work on request.
Lebogang would like to freelance with mainstream newspapers and magazines. He also promises that there’s a lot to look out for in the near future from the Azania Lab Photography. Here are a few pieces of his work:
Phakamis’ Iflag is a platform to praise the positive in the hood, to celebrate the people that make it the beautiful place that it is, and to constantly challenge the powers that be, to make it a safe and enjoyable environment for all who live in it.
This article is dedicated to all the sons and daughters of the soil that make it such a life altering experience to grow up and be successful ekasi. To be born into the organised chaos that the township is, goes a mile and a few in building strong characters and personalities that make up today’s leaders of industry, inspiring artists and spearheads of our beloved country. From a majority of blue collar households where parents kicked the dusty streets of the township in the early morning to earn their keep, to the kitchen party societies and MChina gambling circuits that have put many through school, the people of ekasi have always been financially innovative and determined to make life worth living for their families.
So here’s to the brave, that police our dangerous streets;
To the mothers that have single-handedly kept households on their feet;
The men who are ever-present fathers to their children, no matter how hard the situation.
Here’s to those that inspire others to be great, and make it their responsibility to empower the hopeful young minds in the township;
The teachers that give much-needed knowledge to young minds and build the foundation needed to progress; Read the full story
Mangaliso Mbitshana and Wandile Zondo are the innovative minds behind Thesis, a creative powerhouse tailored towards a lifestyle theme in the form of a concept store. The brand recently released their Spring/Summer collection made up of t-shirts, jeans, dresses, jackets, hats, bags, skirts, sunglasses and jewelry. The collection is very edgy, funky, playful and colorful, with the use of bright colors like blue, green orange and white. The pair kept it fresh, unique yet comfortable and very wearable:
Check the Thesis Concept Store out on:
173 Machaba Street, Mtetwa Centre, Mofolo Village, Soweto
Tel: (011) 982 1182
What is Paradox Fam?
Paradox Fam is an entity which focuses on being the cool or pursuing the cool! The team consists of 12 members. We all live in Joburg. Some live in the north, some in the east and others in the south, and central Joburg is our playground. It is where we get all out vintage clothing, find inspiration and meet with interesting people. Most of us are fashion designers, DJs and graphic designers.
Is this a movement?
The sense of belonging is the greatest thirst that any young or old soul can have. We have found a fountain in each of us as a team, and as individuals. We all want to reach or cultivate each other’s potential. Read the full story