Monday, December 27, 2010

inside scoop makhathini's mind & a parting message


I recently had the opportunity to meet and pick the mind of a shining light, in my opinion - Scoop Makhathini aka Siyabonga Ngwekazi.

This dude's energy is fired up, with the heart of a lion, he inspires me to think bigger and do even bigger. And I think this is what we all need, so this is my feeble attempt to spread that energy far-and-wide and hope that it impacts on one of you.

[Please forgive the crappy editing, did it myself on a shitty programme, and the kak camerawork was done by me on a plain old camcorder. But I dig the old skool stylie!]

It's not much, but I hope you found something in it for you...


This will be my last post for the year 2010 AD, not that anyone really cares but hey...

We live in fuckin' interesting times. And we are a fuckin' interesting generation. We are the post-struggle youth and we have an interesting challenge: no enemy.

The problem is: every youth culture needs a mission, needs a battle, a revolution - an enemy. Nowadays, this isn't easy to work out. So many conspiracy theories, so many world issues, blah blah blah. PLEASE, we are over that bullshit, we need something real!

Right now, I say, we are our only enemy, because only we can stand in our way. The opportunity is ours to redefine this country and take it to new heights. All the doors are open. The world awaits us.

I believe that the undercurrent of this era is that of artrepreneurship (art+entrepreneurship).

The BEE entrepreneurs and tendrepreneurs had their time, but now enough young & smart black men and women have taken the path of professionalism to be able to relay the message: being a Chartered Accountant is actually NOT all that. No shit, Sherlock.

So where do we look to now? How do we define success if money isn't enough?

Yebo, this is the era of the artrepreneur. The creative making money. The artist managing his own business plan. The writer starting her own publishing house. It's been happening for decades, but now is the time for it to become mainstream.

This is the era of what Kid Cudi calls Weirdkind with weird being defined as "anybody who is a leader and follows their heart."

That leaves it open enough for all of you to do what you should best: DO YOU.

This is vital, because art is an expression of self and without knowledge of self there can be no art.

That's my prayer for 2011, for everyone and especially all the real ones out there to be more of themselves, to create original pieces of work and to feel tired as hell but satisfied as we enter 2012.

Big ups to all the artrepreneurs who are already leading the way for us to see how to manifest our visions into reality. You know who you are.

I believe that creativity can solve every problem on the planet.

I also think that a creative revolution is bubbling under in our country, and we as the youth are cracking out of a mindset boxed-in by politics for far too long and entering into a mindset opened by art.

Creativity is the new gold standard.

It's a big challenge: tapping into art and finding the side of yourself that isn't too shy or too scared to expose the world to the beauty within or too caught up just surviving to find the time to live.

I'm going to try my best to find this zone of creativity within myself so that I can contribute meaningfully and colourfully to this world. I don't know if I'll succeed, but I will put all my energy into it.

If you have it in you to do it, don't think twice, take the leap, do you, inspire others, and give me something dope to write about!

We are all in this life together, may LOVE multiply and may all our dreams be realized.

Monday, October 4, 2010



Before I get into this essay of sorts, I want to introduce the topic. This is probably the most interesting interview I’ve done so far. Aside from the supreme amazingness of this group of artists, musically, the interview was on-point for me, intellectually. In fact, I think my mind was broadened by it.

The thing is that these guys are futurists; they are creating music that is before it’s time in many ways.

As Spoek said at the very beginning of the interview: “We are not into genre-specific music, we want to make New Music – a space in the future, which is a void because all we have is the information we already have.”

And the sad thing is that Africans, South Africans and (especially) Capetonians take a long time to move forward, beyond what is recognised as “in” - what is familiar to them.

So a big part of this dissertation is to say: “Wake up! The future is ours to define!” & let’s celebrate the artists who are pushing us forward; because art is the highest expression of culture, at the end of the day.


It’s weird how ‘the universe’ works.

I’ve been planning to interview Spoek for a while now. Firstly, he is one of SA’s most original and influential contemporary artists, in my opinion. One need only check out The Fader cover feature to see what I mean.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly for me, he inspired my hi-top fade, back-in-the-day.

Anyway, on the night of Wednesday 22/09/2010 I went through to the Redbull Studios, not knowing what to expect. I found Spoek chilling with the latest project, Spoek Mathambo & Mshini Wam.

So instead of a solo interview, I struck it lucky and got the whole band!

It was a tough situation as they were rehearsing for their debut live show at the NSWZA event at Neighbourhood the next day, so they had little time for a silly little blog interview. But as time went on, I think they got into it, which was cool for me.

I saw the show the next day & lost my damn mind so I can speak from an intellectual and experiential point-of-view. My point-of-view, that is.


Meet Spoek Mathambo & Mshini Wam.

Let me begin by briefly introducing each member of the band. They are each quasi-geniuses in their own right so before we get into the collective, let’s pay homage to the individuals. I've tried as much as I can to use the artists’ own words to describe themselves.

SPOEK MATHAMBO. Put simply, Spoek describes himself as coming from “a background as a rapper with small obsessions in Metal and Grime at the same time.” Eclectic. Spoek has been in the electro-rap mash-up scene for a while, as Sweat X with the infamous Markus Wormstorm and as Playdoe with the revered DJ Sibot.

RICHARD THE THIRD. I’ve been fan of Richard’s dark dubstep stylies ever since he dropped a sublime set at Co.Lab last summer. Richard is one half of Biscope alongside his brother, Twelv. Under this guise, they have released some dope dubstep bootlegs that caught on like wildfire overseas. Otherwise, he’s an electro/dubstep DJ/producer of the highest calibre and also holds it down at the Redbull Studios.

JAKOBSNAKE. Jakey is simply a maestro; with such an open mind and passionate attitude, his energy is infectious. He goes into the alter-ego territory explaining that:

“JakobSnake is kind of like my alter-ego. JakobSnake is a DJ who plays alongside Plaigarhythm in a group called The bteam. Jakobsnake is a rapper, a beatboxer and a singer, and all around weirdo, in Voicetag. And finally, JakobSnake is drummer for Spoek Mathambo & Mshini Wam.”

Nuf said.

NICOLAAS VAN REENEN. I don’t know much about this guy, except that his guitar strumming skills took me on a supernatural journey. He is part of the well-known six-piece band, Bateleur – apparently the name is “like the eagle, we spread our wings and fly over canyons,” says Nic. And over canyons I was flying the way this brother strummed those strings.


In Spoek’s words, the original goal was to “make an album that sounds like South Africa in 2010 – not an old hard rock album or a fuckin’ old revisionist, nostalgic Hip Hop album.” On this tip, Spoek continues by saying: “I fucking hate Hip Hop for that and even a lot of Rock, I think we must move forward.”

AMEN to that.

What separates Mshini Wam from Spoek’s previous projects is that it’s LIVE. Properly LIVE. Both Sweat X and Playdoe were both electronic DJ-rapper duos, who did live performance but the music wasn't created LIVE.

The major difference for Spoek is that “the electronic medium is static – you can bend the sounds and manipulate them but it’s all pre-recorded, whereas the Live medium is organic," says Spoek, “We've found an organic way of creating new music all-the-time.”

Richard The Third and Spoek have been working together for some time now. And it seems that they share a similar energy of exploration – a passion for African nu-disco-house-kwaito tunes, amongst many other things. They’ve followed a journey spanning across many manners of creative process - from being a couple of heads in a studio to now writing music.

Spoek admits that he’s a “baby” at this and is constantly learning more about melody, structure and other theoretical aspects as they go along. I reckon this could be largely guided by Richard's knowledge...but maybe not.

For Richard, Mshini Wam is about starting a real band, writing music, and flipping his personal musical thought-creation-process on its head. Traditionally, he says that as a producer “you produce a track, record it and then play it live. But with this, you only really know how to produce the track once you’ve played it live.”

On this point, I thought it was hectic when Jakey mentioned that what was really inspiring for him was when he played drums behind Richard in the studio he could “see him playing machines, but playing them like an instrument.” I witnessed this at the show, and the live manipulation and creation of basslines brought a whole new element to the game.

For me, this has to be the future of electronic music. The development of software like Serato, Traktor and Ableton allows anyone to be a DJ but not everyone can be a musician & it’s real music, real artistry we’re after in this life, innit?


I’m sure you are asking yourself the same question I asked: whatsup with the name?

The phrase ‘Umshini Wam’ is...errrm...slightly controversial?

On the contrary, Spoek says he simply chose it because "it’s South African, it’s relevant, it’s multi-dimensional, it means ‘My Machine’, it’s an interesting name.”

Fair enough, but what about the Zuma connection? The response was on point:

“People can have a good time thinking that, but that’s people of South Africa. Even people who think Zuma, some of them will know about the song before Zuma, and will know there’s other a lot of other stuff to it.”

Jakey likes the fact that the name “stabs you in a place that’s forcing you to take a double-take on things.”

But then Spoek cracks me up in saying that the name is just “bubblegum on people’s mouths.” Say it to yourself: “MMM-SHEE-NEE-WUM”, it really sounds/feels like bubblegum. And remember to the international audience “it’s just a long foreign name.”

Wow, the relativism of life: what’s so dear to us is just bubblegum on other people’s lips...


Spoek is a visionary nykka, he says: “We’re about taking over the world in a very big and real way, by getting out there and playing music, it’s not complex Napoleonic strategy, it’s simple: we just go out there and play New Music.”

Jakey is a deep cat, he says: “Honestly, none of us know Future Music. Shit’s changed since last week, shit’s changed since yesterday...”

The future is a void that we fill.


The last question I asked was: What do you want people to walk away with after the show?

Jake: “To say it without any bullshit: as much confusion as that question causes us. I want people walk away and think ‘I don’t know what that was’.”

Spoek: “We’re a nobody-band and I don’t even expect there to be any people there. I just want us to be good and for us to play a really tight show. So I don’t really give a fuck what people think, I just want us to be the best that we can be.”

Richard: “I want it to be a mind-blowing experience. I don’t want people to want to go to the bar. I want it to be a stadium, with 10’000 people, with that sound...”

Nic: “Happiness and puppies.”


I’ll end with a classic Spoek quote.

He says: “If we play really good, we can play anywhere. We can play on the Moon. We can play at the President’s wedding. Every president. We can play for the UN. We’ll just make everyone happy.”

After interviewing them the day before the gig, seeing them play live the next day, and having a more than a week to let it simmer, I believe that nothing can hold this supergroup back, except maybe themselves.

South Africans might not know it yet, but soon they will.

Tour Dates:
Argentina - 29 October 2010
USA - 12 November 2010


Photography courtesy of Max Mogale Photography

Thursday, September 16, 2010

dnb, niskerone & it came from the jungle!

When I discovered drum 'n bass back in 2005/2006, my life was changed forever because it was my introduction to dance music culture and bass, which are now 'sacred' things to me.

I remember the night it struck me. It was like 2nd year of friends and I were at the original Cool Runnings in Obs.

I was, naturally, quite tipsy.

I found myself alone on the dancefloor, ultraviolet lights glowing against the black walls of the room. I don't even think there was a DJ; just loud, oozing drum 'n bass.

And me.

Dancing, pretty much for the first time, proper. This is where I discovered my bodily alterego - my dancing spirit. A kind of timelessness took over...

I'm not sure how many minutes/hours passed before my housemate came over to drag me away.

I remember mumbling something like: "Finally, I've found real music."

I think dnb is like that: you either love it or hate it; it either gets you or it doesn't.

What followed this was a mad hunt for anything drum 'n bass related. I'd record the weekly Sublime Drum 'n Bass shows every Tuesday onto my tapedeck! Here, Hyphen introduced us to the soothing sounds of liquid drum n bass.

Slowly, I began recognising the rhythm, no longer a mish-mash of sounds, but the melody behind it. And so, the taste and hunger developed, to the point where I had to experience the real deal - a drum 'n bass gig.

So...we decided to hit the infamous Homegrown.

As we got there, I remember thinking, "Shit, are there only white people here?" HAHAHAHA. But, who cares any way? My mother is white after all.

Then came the appearance of Niskerone, a beacon of hope for the black folk of the dance culture scene. LOL. Ya, and sorry to all y'all who're getting uncomfortable reading this. It's true, this guy opened the doors of this 'elite' dance culture to the black folk of Cape Town. He brought a different sort of rhythm & style - as Jamie Foxx would put it: he brought swagger.

Bowing posture, much deserved.

Now this dude has done his job over the years. As he puts it: "to infuse a euphoric element to every dancefloor." I dig the fact that he has stayed true to his genre over the years and that he focuses on innovation in his mixing skills; probably up there with best in terms on technical ability.

Mark is a testament to the alter-ego 'theory' of this blog - Niskerone is the "evil twin", as the facebook page reveals. Evil is bit harsh - maybe mischievous is a better description.

Thank G-D for that shit - imagine a world without creative expression of self?

Niskerone's style of music is so different to the laidback fella that he is in "real-life", and it is this energy that takes over the dancefloor, like a fusion of oppositely charged magnetic forces.

Yeah, so in summation this guy has done loads for the scene in Cape Town.

Check out my official article on Niskerone & It Came From the Jungle! in the latest onesmallseed if you want to find out more.

Photography courtesy of the one-and-only Aiden David Hadfield.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

basquiat: the ultimate

OK, so before I get too far down the line (and get too drunk on this saturday night) let me take a second to salute the main cheese, probably the most influential and interesting artist of our contemporary generation: BASQUIAT!

I have no words, actually, to describe the magnitude and importance of this obscure character.

He is great. An alter-ego who was not an alter-ego. A true artist through-and-through, to the very bone.


Monday, August 9, 2010

faith47: women, art & life

Every day is women's day.
I was raised by a single mother.
I know women. I love women.
But today, I'm allowed to speak about it. So SPEAK I will!

a heartist.

faith47 is one of the greats of our time. An urban legend in my early days; I never bothered to find out who the person was behind the art that brightened my city life, I liked the freedom to imagine.

The mystery of the graffiti artist is intriguing. It is the most distinct alter-ego artform that I know. Where the secrecy of the true identity of the artist is usually a closely guarded secret. Only the crew and graf community really know who's-who. It's like an unspoken code. Largely necessitated by the law, but also a critical component of the graf culture - anonymous messages laid out for those who wish to see, and those who see, really see.

Graffiti was a stepping-stone into my love for typography. Graf writers sometimes use such intricate typographical structures that it is like looking into a maze whilst searching for the word. For instance, in the photo (below), most people would see the african princess but not spot the faith47 typography at the bottom. It is these secret moments of appreciation that makes graffiti so cryptically unique.

I first took notice of graffiti while sitting on the train. The monotonous rolling sound of the wheels hitting the tracks puts me into a hypnotised zone and then all I do is look - out the window and absorb. In-between the cold, barren concrete walls would spring out these colourful puzzles; portals into a parallel galaxy of characters, letters and words.

faith47 is much like the angels she paints, oozing wisdom.
It is this sensitivity, sense of compassion for the atomsphere/world that makes faith47's art stand out. It comes with an energy that cares, that nurtures, that feels the joy and pain of others.

Gradually, I've seen faith47's artistry change from passive commentary to artistic activism. In the beginning her pieces spoke to me of broad concepts such forgiveness, pain, love, hope, prayer & beauty; that were missing from the world or needed to be thought of more often. But now her projects are statements.

The latest project is awe-inspiring. THE FREEDOM CHARTER.




I just love the matchbox beemer in this photo - irony is beautiful!

This project touches me personally because my mother has an old picture of The Freedom Charter stenciled on a wall in Salt River during the 1980s - "oh! the struggle days". So it's refreshing to see another graf artist taking on this project.

Check out the 'doccie' of the project:
The Freedom Charter seems to have been politically forgotten, but it lives on in art & faith47's project will leave an imprint on the youth of today and in that way the struggle kinda continues.

Another project is the restless debt of third world beauty.

[The score by Fletcher!]

That video is deep enough. I really don't want to say much more after that.

I guess, the point of this blog post is that there is great power in feminine energies. The ability to care more for others than oneself is an alchemy & through faith47's art, I learnt this somehow.

faith47 is a urban poet & an artist who's art will not be easily erased - even if the law paints over every piece, the ripple effect goes on...

In an interview she advises women getting into graffiti (but I think it applies to ALL women):

"You teach people how to treat you… be self contained… carry mace…"
My parting question/thought: Imagine the world if women ruled..?..

Sunday, August 1, 2010

King Daniel Memoir

I can remember clearly the first time I checked King Daniel. I think it was about 2001, I was 14. I was just getting into Hip Hop culture...

The setting was the daytime Saturday open mic sessions at All Nations when it was still on Lower Main (I can't remember the event's name but let's just say: those were the days). My friend and I would catch a train from Plumstead-se-kante and spend the afternoon soaking up the energy, in a way only young minds can. The room was hot-boxed, graf writers scribbling in their notebooks with bloodshot eyes. Ciphers in each corner. This was an event for consciousness.

I was studying the rappers, trying to grasp where they found the words, plucking them out the ether. King Daniel stepped up in his shy but intent way and took the mic. I don’t think I heard any of his words but already I knew King Daniel.

He dropped his personal scriptures in the characteristic multi-syllable style that he must have loved. His legs were always STRAIGHT, swaying side-to-side, backwards-and-forwards. Shoulders scrutched, mic clasped in two hands. Hoodie over his head. His rhyming persona says a lot about the way his mind worked. Quick, honest, deep and thoughtFULL.

I was fascinated and it must have (in some small way) contributed to my interest in something I call the art of artistry.

That’s what this blog is about, essentially.

I didn’t know who the first artist I would feature would be and then Life decided for me. This post is a memoir of a legend of eKapa; to hopefully record a digital artefact that will keep the memory alive. This recollection is based on my thoughts and memories, so its not fact but not-at-all fiction either.

King Daniel would be everywhere where things were happening. Always seeking the freshness, something that pushes the boundaries and opens minds. I think King Daniel was on a constant search for open minds. I don’t know though.

I’m listening to one of his albums while writing this. Heavy days. A freedom fighter, fighting for the freedom of his own soul. A compassionate heart, hurt by the pain of poverty in the world. Confused by society’s ways, because let’s face it, it doesn’t make that much sense. Lots of anger at this – the inequities and injustices. A son of the soil:

“I’m not to be mistaken for a beach bum/and/I get on the microphone & teach something/bringing a brand new game called Police Hunting/ever since my date of birth in East London.”

But then he speaks about many other things as well, his experiences and things that he actually went through. As those who knew him know, he lived a full life. He did it all, and more. Everytime I saw him, he was on some new hustle. A constantly creative man on the hunt for creativity, like a dog chasing its tail, it's a hunt that can never end.

There is much more that could be said, but the album is coming to an end and that is the time I set for the words to come through me onto this pixelised page.

The point I’d like to make is: King Daniel gave Bongani an outlet of expression and in his creative works, he lives on.

King Daniel gave us a glimpse into the other world behind his mind's eye. May he inspire us to keep searching for the truest art, that which fully expresses self, or in his words:

“Activity of creativity/since nativity/agility and versatility/verse soliloquy...vividly clear delivery.”

Lala ngoxolo King.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


my mind is a warped place to be stuck but it gets the job done and makes me laugh enough. it battles with my heart often and usually wins. although i sometimes wish it wouldn't. your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness.

this full moon has been the most intense i've ever experienced. the first of the new equinox, david scribbles tells me. change. the only constant.

the whole thing is a magic trick. myself included. to what end does the conjurer conjure? to create wonder.

that is why art is closest to the heart, because art is magic.

something from nothing.

this is the object of my mind's enquiry: where for art thou Takezito?