Every now and then, you wish you could be wrong about something in terms of music and movies. In this case, how rare is it to find a South African movie with a hot South African music soundtrack attached to it?
OK. scratch the “hot”, JUST a random hip-hop track quietly slipped into the soundtrack would even count… but nothing.
The truth is, the local movie scene is still growing; the hip-hop scene is barely on its feet and you’d think someone would’ve thought to put the two together and try to appeal to a wider youth market but we’re yet to see it. Another issue is what type of movies are we producing locally? The genre of the movie will determine what kind of soundtrack to use. Even in that case, aren’t hip-hop artists versatile enough to accommodate the theme of the movie with the music they make?
On the other hand, can we say that the hip-hop community is lacking initiative by not finding out which movies are in production and making sure their music is considered for the movie’s score? If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…. maybe hip-hop artists can go to the film producers. Then again, I also think about how difficult it is for our local musicians to market themselves and their brands. Many are talented, but they also struggle when it comes to marketing themselves and their products. Isn’t it high time that musicians were a lot more hands-on in knowing how to market themselves in industries that they aren’t familiar with.
There surely is a way to incorporate this growing genre into the big screen. This initiative is where lots of creativity and hard work comes in but it stands to bear great fruit for the rap fraternity. Otello Burning is a movie about teenagers who find relief in surfing during the times of the apartheid stricken South Africa. Motif Records released a high quality mixtape with songs that were featured in the film. Artists like Tumi, Perfecto, Reason, Zaki Ibrahim and Samthing Soweto were some of the talents featured on the mixtape. The soundtrack of Otello Burning was the first time I heard Perfecto on a record. I have now been introduced to an artist through film and soundtracks. Ain’t that something?!
An initiative like that not only puts a relatable soundtrack to a locally produced film but stands to be a great advert for a number of reasons, namely:
1. The film gets played internationally and receives international accolades;
2. The artists in the soundtrack and score get recognition worldwide as the film becomes widely available and;
3. A score that lacks music lacks emotion, it becomes tantamount to relate to the film.
The hip-hop community seems to be ignorant of the growing film industry and how positively it can impact sales and popularity. I know people; myself included, who’ve downloaded songs or been introduced to new artists by hearing their music on a movie soundtrack. The Indie Rock scene is well aware of this and they have been milking this cow for years now. Isn’t it time hip-hop artists did the same? Film is another avenue that hip-hop artists should exploit in their quest of relevance and new fans.
Rick Ross’ “100 Coffins” was included in the controversial Quentin Tarantino directed Django: Unchained. With that move, Rick Ross now appeals to not only hip-hop but movie fanatics who might take a liking to the song and start supporting him. Obviously there are legalities in getting music to feature in a film’s score or soundtrack but I believe the hip-hop industry and the movie industry in SA stands to gain fans in both areas.
The advertising of the movie will carry enough weight to showcase the film industry and the featured artists in the movie. It’s a win-win situation. It also opens opportunities for producers to be part of the action and incorporate their expertise in creating a score for the film.
Movie soundtracks are a great platform to widen an artist’s fan base. On the flip-side of it, you create contacts in the video and film industry, which may lead to a well-known director directing a rapper’s video. The caliber of such an achievement can only be attained if it’s a two-way street between hip-hop and film.
Bad Boys 1 & 2; 8 Mile; The Nutty Professor 2; Fast and the Furious Franchise; and You Got Served, are just a few cases of how urban music have found it’s way on to our TV screens as part of a film’s score. These are a selection of the movies, which had some of the finest songs in their soundtrack, and the artist there got to blow up as a result of the added acclaim.
The hip-hop lifestyle is all about hustling, so why have we not seen this as an opportunity to get a foot into the industry? There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to get local hip-hop as popular as international hip-hop, but recent years have seen it grow, and we’ve heard credible offerings that we can actually enjoy and appreciate should we hear them in local movies. It’s time someone took a step to make sure hip-hop is a staple in local movie productions.
American musicians have realised how linking themselves to a movie’s soundtrack can be beneficial to their career, and not only for the movie’s ratings. They understand the concept of diversifying themselves, and still using their music as their main platform to a successful career. Perhaps our musicians can take a few notes from this; clothing is not the only way one can market themselves in South Africa. Link yourself with different industries and you’ll also be giving yourself a platform to diversify yourself, while gaining new fans.
There are too many growing industries in South Africa that one can link themselves with, for our local music industry to be growing at such a slow rate. Maybe we need to go back to the drawing board on many things, but on this front, our musicians need to wake up and grab the opportunities before musicians from other countries do.