I’ve gotten to the point that teams, crews, squads and whatever collective name is referred to these days, are fickle and very “I” prone. Hip Hop is no exception to this as more and more of the unity seems to be of benefit one and no more than that one person.
There is a NEED for unity in SA hip hop but the participants WANT it (crying for it to be frank). It has gotten to proportions that there’s different factions in SA hip hop. We have people openly saying they won’t support one artist in favour of the other. We have cliques that only punt their members and everything else is given a Ray Charles view.
Friends and associate sticking together? Dandy. Repping your city? Perfect. BUT…why the surprise when one you’ve never punted doesn’t punt you? What if the one you never spoke about or congratulated, doesn’t return the mythological favour?
Instead we have cry babies drawing empathy from gullible and noticeably naive “fans” and instead of everyone coming back to earth and facing reality, we have stand alones in the culture.
The most important thing is for hip hop to progress. We need hip hop to birth superstars but it seems people are independent of the culture until they need it. People are giants until they meet bigger giants then they now need the village to help them.
For the longest of time, there was difference in cities’ sounds. It was evident when you hear a certain sound or niche, you had GPS coordinates. That sound phenom can be traced back to the U.S. where each coast had its own pioneers and they rep their part of the landscape. They loved by their hometown and peak interest in the other parts of the country.
In SA, it was evident until media outlets zoomed in on one city. Very unfair to the culture, every other city had to fight for a spot in a clear marginalized portrayal of the culture.
We can cite that to the “My city best, the rest worst” mentality that has seemed to engulf hip hop fans mind sets. Which has lead to artists, as talented as they are, having drips and drabs of fans anywhere that is not near enough for them to be neighbors.
We can blame media outlets for zoning in on only Jozi or as the culture, (not people from Jozi or CPT or Kuruman), as a unit, we can change the plateau of the game.
We as the culture, have resources to create awareness in each city and that will ripple over the country. We can do that instead of crying for unity only when we stand to get accomplishments.
Imagine if we didn’t let the ripple of P.O.C happen? We wouldn’t have one of the most respected producers in Amu. Hell, we wouldn’t have one of the most eclectic groups in SA hip hop history in Jozi (Ishmael was part / associate to P.O.C)
A reset is necessary. It doesn’t help the culture to all sound like one city’s sound. Where is individualism? Where is being unique? We don’t want a “you hear one rapper, pure heard them all” occurrence.
We had Motswako, J-Sec, Cap City, Kaapstad; all with their unique sound and all of a sudden we have monotony across the whole country?
What SA hip hop needs to realise that right now, hip hop is a commodity that everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie of. A front of unity does us no good but instead breaks the very foundation and progress we have captured thus far.
We don’t need to be like a gigantic ASAP Mob, no. We are Avengers. A specialised team selected on talent from varying areas of the country that has one common goal. Each faction brings its own strength and as a unit, we are much stronger. We have lyricist, we have Skhanda, we have gqom, we have strictly vernac rappers, we have a variety of talent and together, we can be a force to be reckoned with.
We don’t need cry babies about support but instead we rally support. We don’t need “I don’t fux with that sound” but rather a motivation for you to be unique. We don’t need infighting in the country but rather an acknowledgement that cats in the Cape Flats will rap about different topics than cats in the northen burbs of Johannesburg.
I’m not rallying a kumbaya, get along hug fest. No. I’m saying hip hop is bigger than your area code or slang.
Written by Siphiwe Zwane ( @SDotJR_ )