AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

South African Hip Hop Series: Rap Songs About Weed

Hip-hop’s love affair with marijuana is a much-publicized affair. Artists such as Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg have built careers by co-opting the good ganja crop and working it into their public personas. Of late, the likes of Wiz Khalifa and Flatbush Zombies continue to model themselves in line with stoner tendencies. South African hip-hop

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

South African Hip Hop Series: Interview With Khuli Chana

On the morning of 28th October 2013 – a Monday – South Africa woke up to news that rapper Khuli Chana’s vehicle had been shot at by the police after they mistook it for that of a...

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

South African Hip Hop Series: Ill Skillz In Five Videos

Cape Town’s self-proclaimed two dope boyz Uno and Jimmy Flexx are Ill Skillz. At the end of 2013 they released Notes from the Native Yard (NFTNY), a collection of songs steeped in the tradition of great storytellers...

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

This Studio Of A Life–The Tale Of A Great Producer

Inyambo Imenda is the birth name of producer Nyambz (or Nyambo). He went to high school in the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’ — a small town called Harrismith in South Africa’s Free State Province where him and a rapper friend...

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Pretoria’s Forgotten Hip-Hop Scene

In 2010, documentary filmmaker Sara Chitambo packed up five years’ worth of life in Cape Town and relocated to the eGoli, ePitori to be precise. Among her long list of priorities was to immerse herself the Pretoria...

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

This Studio Of A Life–Portraits Of Rappers And Producers

I can’t recall when I first fell in love with hip-hop, but I do know that the first song I transcribed was Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s paradise.’ Transcribing lyrics in ‘songbooks’ was a big deal in the mid-nineties; it...

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

A Few Thoughts About The Rapper AKA

“What do you like about the guy?” asked a friend after I told them about an album listening session the rapper AKA had hosted a day earlier. “I don’t know, I don’t get the guy; and maybe...

Friday, June 27th, 2014

#Belated: Tumi And The Volume

Their stage act resembles an inside joke; they play tricks on the audience with a wry sense of humour which underlies the whole scenario. The guitarist will sommer play a lick off of a well-known song of...

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Lesego Rampolokeng’s Elegy To Robo The Technician

“Raise your hand up if you’re a hip-hop head” said Lesego Rampolokeng, rallying a house full of poets at a gathering in Melville on a wet Sunday afternoon in 2013. I put mine up, as did a few...

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Discovering Prophets Of Da City

One late afternoon while milling about at the University of Cape Town’s main campus, I ran into Adam Haupt, the Associate Professor of Media Studies who’s authored books such as Static: Race and Representation in Post-Apartheid Music, Media...

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The Rules of South African Hip Hop in 2014

South African hip-hop has become too safe. Cutting edge rappers are being sidelined in favour of tried-and-tested mainstays – creating a cycle of regurgitated talent that receives preferential treatment by radio stations, booking agents, and sponsors. Doubtless, the...

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The State Of African Hip Hop In 2014

In 2014, African hip-hop has graduated from the bedroom and walked into the boardroom. It’s left its cape (baggy jeans) at the door and picked up a pair of tight-fitting pants. In extreme cases, hip-hop has shed...

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

South African Hip Hop–An Outsider’s Perspective

One evening while channel surfing at home, I stumbled upon what sounded like a rap cypher* on the radio. Quickly, I got up to look for an empty cassette tape nearby. Once I found one (a see-through Sonotech C-60 if...

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The World Of Ridiculous Internet Videos: Who is Kwality?

I wasn’t sure of how to react when I opened the Youtube link to Kwality’s “Official Lion King.” video, first uploaded on May 17. What is this, and who is he, I wondered. While waiting for the video to...

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Kickin’ It With Christian Tiger School

I arrive in Braamfontein twenty minutes early, at 6pm, for a meeting with Sebastiano Zenasi (or Seb), Luc Vermeer, and their manager Aaron Peters. It’s the night of their album launch, their second since 2012’s Third Floor...

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

‘Dreams Close To Home’: In search of the perfect wall to paint in South Africa

Sometime last year, I attended an exhibition opening entitled “Dreams Close To Home” at the Two by Two Art Studio in Newtown, Johannesburg. It was the culmination of a self-initiated project by the artists Lisolomzi Pikoli (Fuzzy Slipperz, illustrator),...

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Why Is No One Else Talking About These Musicians?

I got the chance to be part of the Redbull Basscamp in Johannesburg during October 2013. For six days, a unique cross-section of hand picked South African musicians holed up in central Johannesburg for lectures from music industry heavyweights in...

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Rap Battle of the Week on Reddit: Johannesburg’s Tumi vs Atlanta’s Ness Lee

Two weeks ago, Club Zen in downtown Johannesburg got packed to its rafters with hip-hop afficionados who came by the carloads to support Scrambles4Money, a South African battle rap circuit established in 2012. The auspicious Talk is...

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

#Photojournal: Back To The City Festival

Back To The City is a hip-hop and street fashion festival held in Johannesburg’s Newtown Precinct every year on April 27th, South Africa’s Freedom Day. The festival has seen unprecedented growth since its inception in 2006. From...

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Tumi Molekane’s New Song

With no Volume to his name, it seemed almost impossible to imagine South Africa-based self-proclaimed poet/emcee Tumi Molekane as a solo artist. He had released two albums before forming a band: A dream led to this and Tao of...

Friday, April 4th, 2014

No, we have not forgotten that it was Bra Hugh Masekela’s 75th birthday today

It's Bra Hugh's birthday today. Well into his seventies, Hughie as his friend Dizzy Gillepsie used to call him, demonstrates no interest in laying off from touring. To celebrate, we'll bump a bit of "I Am Not...

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The Story of Ill Skillz: Notes From The Native Yards

When they founded Ill Skillz in 2005, Uno July and Lukona Sitole couldn’t have anticipated that, just one year shy of a decade later, they would’ve experienced the departure of three crew members. Their deejay, Nick Knucklez,...

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Lesotho’s Politics Go Pop

Lesotho's Prime Minister and leader of the coalition government Tom Thabane has found love: ‘It is one of the best decisions that I ever made in my entire life,’ the statesman said in a recent newspaper interview...

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Meet Bittereinder

I discovered the three piece Afrikaans outfit Bittereinder through the internet and fell in love with them because of their live performance. Their music, a bass-heavy flurry of high-energy drops and subdued melodies, develops a different personality...

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Our Favorite Album of 2013

I’ve had Shane Cooper’s “Oscillations” in my possession for the past four months. From the onset, it was clear that it wasn’t music I’d be content with listening passively to. It was necessary for me to live with...

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

An interview with Ghanaian artist Sarkodie in the lead-up to his new album

Few rappers on the continent have been as prolific as Sarkodie this year. The Ghanaian emcee has released a steady stream of songs and videos, all in the lead-up to his album which will be titled Sarkology....

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The Brother Moves On releases A New Myth

Johannesburg outfit The Brother Moves On have finally released a full-length album, their first after two EPs and a series of loose songs floating on the internet. We had a very brief conversation with frontman Siyabonga Mthembu...

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Mandela and Hip-Hop

Two years ago, South African rapper and former frontman of The Volume, Tumi Molekane (stagename: Tumi) released ‘POWA’, a song which was as much a rally against women abuse as it was speculative banter in which the rapper imagined...

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Weekend Music Break 63

We kick off our weekly installment of new music videos with OttawaParis-based Mélissa Laveaux riding the crunchy electronics with flair on her new offering, ‘Triggers’, in a video directed by Terence Nance — remember also this other...

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Weekend Music Break: The Brother Moves On

I followed The Brother Moves On around South Africa once. True story, I even wrote about it here. I’ve seen them many more times after that, and each time was a trip. On their recent trip to...

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