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Kak! That Ben Sharpa has to travel all the way to Europe to play live gigs and be appreciated while languishing unrecognised and broke back home.

Kif! The Sharpaganda Logo.

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  1. djf says:

    Even more kak – that people like me have no idea who Ben Sharpa is and have yet to make up our minds whether he’s worth the interest.

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  2. token says:

    I’ve caught his shows in durbs like four times and only once of those four times I seen him did he have a croud over 50 people.

    Crazy though.

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  3. djf says:

    Maybe Mahala needs to educate us with a feature piece or an interview?

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  4. Dplanet says:

    It’s definitely kak that Ben doesn’t get the attention he deserves in SA.

    For more info on Ben, check out:

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  5. grim says:

    He is a soothsayer. and we all know that true artists only get paid in the next world.
    i would go hungry another week knowing that Ben is taking our message to the world

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  6. grim says:

    Kiff of kak

    In the words of violent femmes, should I stay or should I go now.

    Here is a dog eat dog world. Children are starving, people are dying and nobody gives a fuck. We are that ostrich generation our heads stuck up our own arses, so we don’t have to look at someone else’s tragedy. Why stay here for mix match crowd support, apathetic promoters, kak venues with bad sound, no infrastructure, no radio support,
    Television that’s still in the eighties, crowds that spend more time in the toilets sniffing coke of each others faces, no payment for performances. It will always be underground culture that seeks greener pastures. Braving the cold to find a little piece of sunshine. Be it here or there.

    When all this is added up the grass is greener on the other side. Crowds over there are craving something real, they have money for gigs, merchandise, want the album and are open to support each other. There are countless underground recording labels and big brands getting behind these labels. Travel is easy, safe and affordable.

    Underground artists have become mainstream propaganda. Artists like 50cent & J-ZEE would be nowhere with out Reebok’s endorsement. RunDMC started this and asked Adidas for a million dollars. They got their money and Adidas made 250million dollars in one season off one style of sneaker, all because of the rappers street credibility. Nike has done the same as well as most international labels. They call it a lifestyle product not an athletic product anymore, underground or fringe culture is where its at from New York to London to Barcelona. And its here too.

    From Mzanzi, to Cape Town and even Durban. You will see kids with a swagger in their walk, kaps on sideways, baggy pants sagging round their knees. A can of paint in their bag. These kids have something to say. And they are saying it on most corners. They are the new youth, there is no colour here, no hate, no prejudice, just love. Love for each other and for the music they choose to listen to. Music that will never see the radio or the TV. It lives and breathes on the street. Free to go where it chooses. Not chained to a recording deal with so much small print that they sign away their life. No with modern technology these artists are connected to each other, that’s what its about. Its not a secret fellowship, anyone can join, its open, it’s a cipher, a circle of sorts, where minds from different environments can connect and help shape one another’s journey. Its simple. It’s a community that can stand together and not take the world at face value.

    Its this gap between street art and corporate culture that they are trying to close.
    We unfortunately have a different climate for our brands and our brands are way behind the times, stuck in the eighties with old formulas that don’t work in this new SA that we love to hate. Big business is not changing fast enough. We have the same people controlling the money and deciding where it goes. Brands would rather hand of a few million to the dying SABC that go out on a limb to support something that is fresh and new.

    We need a changing of the guard. Sharpa is one of the new ambassadors, whether you like him or not, whether you know him or not. That not the problem. He is someone willing to take a leap of faith and jump into unknown territory. That’s why I support him and my home will always be his home.

    I think its kak to live here sometimes. And its kiff that someone from here is making a name for himself overseas. There are a few artists that make it here and then go overseas. Most leave first become well known and then end up living on the other side of the world where they don’t have to wake up to the reality of being robbed, laptops stolen, shoes jacked off their feet, hungry friends and other starving artists.

    Maybe the solution is for us to give up the idea of being artists stop writing songs and get a job in a real environment, start teaching and building a new generation of youth that understands the limits of art, music and street culture.

    Ben I salute you brother.

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  7. djf says:

    Hey grim, that’s a passionate account that I have a lot of sympathy for. However, I believe that narrow-minded media corporates in SA are only a small part of the problem. We need to consider whether a population that has lived under the mental, emotional and spiritual shackles of apartheid until quite recently is properly receptive to more challenging and reality-engaging forms of art. So perhaps I agree with you that much of the solution lies with a more free-thinking youth that can help re-invent what contemporary art in all its manifestations should be marketed and consumed as in a genuinely New South Africa.

    Oh, and a minor point of correction – it wasn’t Violent Femmes but The Clash. Femmes asked a more quintessentially challenging question : “why can’t I get one good fuck?”

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  8. Beeekaay says:

    Yeah word up to djf and grim, well spoken. If Sharper can enjoy some creative freedom and a platforms overseas are receptive and audiences are eager to come through to shows, then it’s too bad for us who loose out. As long as the Sharper message is being spread then sometimes that’s all that is necessary, plus there are bills that need to be paid.

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  9. biggest fan says:

    Ben sharpa is one of the hardest working mc’s and if the south african market cant handle what he has to say and would rather stand on their tippy toes then thats their bad keep doing what you doing papi the rest will follow

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  10. Anonymous says:

    i haven’t watched him but don’t you think that some of his “appreciation” in europe comes from europe’s fascination with the “exotic”. not to discredit a man’s talents, but europe should not be used as a reference because their tastes on anything coming from africa are based on their warped idea of africanism. they are not the accurate or even flattering to put it mildly.

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  11. djf says:

    “europe should not be used as a reference because their tastes on anything coming from africa are based on their warped idea of africanism.”

    That’s a mighty sweeping statement with a disturbingly blinkered and self-righteous attitude lurking in the background. Consider this, if someone on a European website commented “Africa should not be used as a reference because their tastes on anything coming from Europe are based on their warped idea of Europeanism”, many a South African would be screaming racism and cultural intolerance.

    If Anonymous’s statement held any value then the converse assumption could be considered – that South African musicians appreciated more in Europe than here are of little intrinsic value and are in essence “overrated”. Does that mean we should turn our noses up at the likes of Zim Nqawana or Phillip Tabane?

    I’d also be interested to see if Andy’s interview series with Hugh Masekela sheds any light on this issue. If I’m not mistaken he has remarked in the past that audiences overseas have been far more receptive and supportive of his performances than local audiences?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    @ djf: dude, have you had a look at any western media lately?? africa and africanism has been whittled down to a bunch of stereotypes. take a look, i urge you: cnn, fox, bbc, msnbc. hell even the national public radio. so what’s significant about this you will ask. well, these mouthpieces form public opinion. do you know anything about journalism? well, for starters, there is very little time so, stories get cut up and cut down to sound bites. the countries in africa are reduced to one entire region (some even call it a country), void of diversity and complexity, for the sake of the minute thirty package. the result, the audiences are told pieces they can grasp (like stereotypes) and that’s it. they believe it as the truth.

    how this relates to artists coming from the continent is they are playing to audiences who have already established skewed ideas – (remember the stereotypes?) these artists are either so profoundly different that sentences like “ooh he’s so articulate…” are uttered. or else the artists are what is expected and adjectives like “ethnic”, “tribal”, “world music”, “quaint”, “wise” etc are used. neither are complimentary. you get that right?

    african artists are underhanded either way – not supported locally, or patronized internationally. of course there are exceptions but the vast majority are overlooked.

    djf you have an interesting theory – (what is it again? that internationally they love everything african for what it is completely without bias) but the fact that all you do is invert a sentence, then name-call doesn’t do anything for you. all it does is compromise your argument.

    and fyi, it’s called eurocentricity, not europeanism.

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  13. djf says:

    My my, some people can make sweeping generalisations and convenient assumptions when it suits their agenda. This is particularly ironic when the one thing they’re pleading for is greater awareness of the complexities of the African continent.

    The contradiction in the argument above is striking. If there was nothing more than an interest in African music in Europe for the sake of cultural curiosity, then the most popular examples would be acts with an overtly African flavour of a particularly superficial nature. In such a case then kwaito would be the biggest drawcard, but that’s not the case.

    Yes, it really is an issue of complexity – not just in the continent’s diversity but also the complexity at the very heart of its music that finds greater favour in Europe and America. In the case of Ben Sharpa, Blk Jks and other acts mentioned above, this is not seen as a coffee-table-friendly or armchair-traveller indulgence amongst a broader group of bored “first-world” listeners, rather a case of more complex and challenging music finding favour amongst a niche market of better educated, more media literate and more widely-travelled listeners. The simple fact is that this demographic is more heavily populated in Europe and North America than it is here. Hence support structures, marketing and performance spaces are better equipped to promote acts that are viewed as extremely marginal and financially risky in South Africa.

    These acts have not gained listenership overseas by amplifying stereotypically African aspects of their art. In fact in the case of Blk Jks many of these things are deliberately underplayed so that they do not mask more original creativity that lies at the heart of their songs. Jazz-literate audiences the world over respect Zim Nqawana for his horn-playing and compositional skills. When musicians reach that level of virtuosity and accomplishment it really doesn’t matter where they come from as much as what they’re playing and what they convey on a universally human level. This is how great art manages to break down divisive cultural barriers rather than rely upon them for promotion. The fact that our greatest musicians who are not afraid to delve into complexity (yes there’s that word again) find better support overseas is more an indictment of our laziness, complacency and inferior education than evidence of a superficial view of Africa from abroad.

    And if anyone reads these arguments and interprets them as “internationally they love everything african for what it is completely without bias”, then perhaps my point about literacy and education levels in South Africa is being vindicated?

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  14. Nikki says:

    Hear hear!!! Ben is so fantastic and as a South African living in Oslo, I am also sad that even though I have been following his career for ages the first time I got to see him was here is NORWAY! Shit! He has worked with some of the most celebrated names in dub step! Ben you are legendary! Love!

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