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South African Hip Hop

Nice and Nekkies

by Sifiso Sudan, image by Spo0ky / 17.11.2010

An underground hip hop show that goes down within the haunting mountains of the of Nekkies winelands is as much about the journey as it is about the actual event. So on that Saturday afternoon, I was lucky enough to find myself travelling with a bunch of critical thinkers, graffiti artists, singers and sculptors – united in hip hop. All of them potters and occasional dabblers in good conversation and wine. The company was so alive that even when my car speakers gave in half an hour into the journey, nobody noticed.

What we did observe was the quiet and the calm serenity of our landscape. But it wasn’t so much the views that occupied our imagination, it was the idea that people could live inside these valleys. The rich lived in luxury and the poor probably still lived on the dop system. Whatever the situation, it was definitely a life outside of the world we painted with our lyrics as MCs. However, it made us even more curious to see how the local crowd would react to music as urgent as Driemanskap’s, as colourful as Ill Skillz or even as dynamic as Mic Substance’s.

I never look at maps. So even when we arrived at the venue I didn’t know where we were. The fully equipped stage had been placed on an open green field with a majestic mountain as its backdrop. DJ’s were already spinning, families and friends were braaing and picnicking and MC’s were freestyling and smoking it up. I was happily surprised to find all of Cape Town’s rap elite under one sky. Ill Skillz, Teba, Korianda, Raiko, Eavesdrop, Crosby and more. I recognized MC’s and crews from Mitchells Plain, Langa, Gugs, Kulcha and even local Worcester cats came out to represent.

Ok a few of the opening acts were not that fantastic. In a small group we discussed how reminiscent this kind of hip hop was to Prophets of Da City almost 20 years ago. Same rhyme patterns. Same delivery. Same content. And just too angry for the state of mind that this kind of environment had put us in. I took the time to mingle and meet new folks.

I know many of our true prophets can still be found in the quietest spaces. On the sidelines. One such brother joined our camping space. He was in his twenties but had the wisdom of an old man. We got to talking and soon I asked him, “Brother, what is the ideal relationship between a man and a woman, because cheating is the ultimate concern and the cause of most break-ups. What is the answer?” And he replied, “Sexual freedom. Freedom comes with love. Real love.” That’s all I remember. He spoke fast and mixed his speech with poems and Bible verses. When I asked for the books he was reading he simply gave me six topics to go and research. Scientology. Technological Processes. Religious and Political Warfare. Agenda. Propaganda and Historical Politics. The dude was deep.

Soon our attention was back on stage. And I can comfortably make the prediction that in one year, Kanyi will unanimously be considered to be South Africa’s best MC. So when she took the stage with Mic Substance, we all knew that they were about to bring the music back to the 21st century. They didn’t disappoint. They never do. For a moment we were rocking and completely inside the music. You see hip hoppers have sophisticated tastes. We never want what’s hip today. We want tomorrow today. And at Nekkies it was as if we were also listening to the future of Afrikaap rap. So intelligently laced and simplified to make Afrikaans rhymes so crazy funny and so palatable now to the masses. Even local crews added a new colour and flair to indigenous hip hop. Approaching difficult subjects from new and odd angles. We love that.

Suddenly the sky went pitch black and an ice cold wind swept through our camping site. Many disappeared into tents and cars. I took a power nap and woke up to the sounds of DJ Yellow. If you’ve never heard him you must know rude boy is bad news. He managed to bring us all out of our hiding places for a while in what must have been the climax of the evening. In just a few minutes the place was packed once again. But they definitely player-hated on the brother cause his set was far too short. But it was 3am. The next DJ was only just rocking us to sleep and tomorrow was another day.

*Opening image Driemanskap performing at the Hype Live Sessions in Gugulethu. Image © Spo0ky.

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