On the first day of the month of love, Axe hosted AXEcess Jozi, an urban music festival which featured international superstar Big Sean as its headlining act. Axecess Jozi was held at Mary Fitzgerald Square, an open concrete space, slap-bang in the middle of Newtown; the hipster hangout and soul of Johannesburg’s arts and culture. The festival included a star-studded line-up of local artists such as AKA, Khuli Chana, Teargas, Reason, Da Les, Maggz, DreamTeam and supported by talented DJ’s such as DJ Dimplez, DJ Tira, DJ Feel and P.H and Khenzero.
Gates opened at 1 pm and although it was called a festival it certainly wasn’t advertised as one nor did it feel like one. Live acts only started at 6pm so if you did get there at 1pm the stage was still being set-up and the only thing that was playing were DJ’s who sometimes played deep house or chilled hip-hop that made you feel like you were at home relaxing on your bed and not at a hip-hop concert ready to get turnt up.
The crowd trickled through in bits and drabs but when the live acts started the boredom in the air was replaced by an electric buzz of excitement. DJ Dimplez kicked it off by bringing out AB Crazy and Emmy Gee who gave a hot performance of their track “Rands and Nairas”. DreamTeam followed with a stellar show and got the crowd going with the raw energy and heart typical of new kids on the block, ready to prove their worth and show that they can share a stage with the best of them. Their dancing background helped make their performance even more fun and enjoyable, putting out sexy moves while rhyming something fire. Reason came through in smooth and solid form, rocking back and forth on his heels, giving the air of someone who is quite comfortable on stage.
The live acts were separated by DJ acts in between. DJ Tira gave an awesome performance even playing hip-hop in his set. Khuli Chana revved the crowd up even more adding dancers to his set and interacting with the audience. Screams of “fuck the police” didn’t fall on deaf ears making the mantra more believable considering his unfortunate altercation with the po-po. AKA and Da Les make a formidable team on stage! Give a Bell’s to the man that told them they look good together. The dynamic duo worked the whole stage during their set taking the crowd on a whirlwind ride. They fed off each other’s energy, acting as each other’s hype men for when they performed their solo songs and going extra hard with their collaborative work. They even brought Maggz out for “Heaven” and “Fire” which was a nice surprise. Teargas killed it with their set, performing classics like “Chance” as well as their latest songs.
Before Big Sean came on, the weather wasn’t kind and it started to rain heavily. The rain caused some technical glitches which caused a delay to the start of his performance. The crowd became innovative and covered themselves with the big Axe umbrellas that were used for shade during the day. When he finally did come on, he came on with a ferocious energy that set the crowd ablaze even through the rain. The backdrops that accompanied his performance were either clips from his music videos or interesting stills that enthralled the crowd, made even more dramatic with pillars of fire spewing out from the front of the stage.
He performed songs from some of his mixtapes as well as from his albums. What’s interesting to note is that it is his verses on other people’s songs that made the peaks of his show from his verses on “Mercy”, “I don’t Like” and “Clique” to “Slight Work” and “Show Out”. Even on his own hit “Dance(Ass) remix” he’s outshone by Nicki Minaj’s audio verse. Be that as it may he’s one of the most accommodating performers and a surprisingly down-to-earth grounded normal guy.
Even though he took off his shirt, he had no tattoos to show off because his mom doesn’t like it and he even brought her out during the show. He expressed so much gratitude to the audience and stayed an extra ten minutes over to perform even though it was raining so much that a part of the stage roof broke off and a torrent of rain fell on him. He worked the whole stage with an energy that never faltered and was a pleasure to watch.
Overall, the AXEcess Jozi Urban Music Festival was fun even though the first half of the day was filled with no live acts and the weather marred the headliner Big Sean’s performance at the end. Kudos to the promoters for giving the local acts the same stage to use as the international artist. Their performances were just as good as Big Sean and hopefully we’ll see a local artist headlining in a different country in the near future.
Written By: Nomusa Mthethwa
You can view the Axe photo album of the event here.