This is Smiso and Zamani, aka Okmalvumkoolkat and Dokta SpiZee of the duo group Dirty Paraffin. Some say their music is electronic, others say it’s electro-kwaito, and magazines have even compared them to Brooklyn’s Das Racist. But the two guys do not want to box their music to a genre.
Smiso breaks it down as primer stove music: a necessary ingredient of music that accentuates all the various elements of culture, style, language, and sound that South Africa has to offer. Zamani on the production and Smiso as the front man performer, Dirty Paraffin’s music is a humorous collection of thumping offbeat sounds, music videos with chickens in the background, and catchy vernac phrases like “siya sebenza after 5 we come alive” (we work but after 5 we come alive).
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To commemorate the ending of June, Youth Month, I attended the Play Energy sponsored music and exhibition event.
Griffin Session was a 48hr exhibition of local South African clothing, photographers, graphic designers, toy designers, painters, and other artists. In an effort to promote local talents and the spirit of youth entrepreneurship of the young, the exhibition featured some up and coming names of Johannesburg’s talent pool.
In the evening, the exhibition was followed by a very good list of big name musicians and DJs, including TKZee’s kwaito artist Kabelo Mabalane, DJ Zinhle-South Africa’s most popular female DJ, kwaito/house group Tear Gas among others
It was a very good way to end the youth month of June…with MUSIC!
June is the month of youth in South Africa. In remembrance of the anti-Apartheid movement by students of Soweto, the country celebrates and highlights its youth. I thought I should do the same. In addition to music culture, the course of my documentary focuses on what South African youth culture is, what it means, and what does it say about the future of South Africa.
I have been interviewing youth and elders alike about their thoughts on the generation of today, and whether or not they think there is a generation gap. My focus is on the age group of children of the 1976 Uprising generation. Most of these youths are within the bracket of 19-29 years old. As expected there is natural differentiation of opinion of youth and elders. But what I am finding surprising, or just interesting, is that even the youth find there is a sense of disillusionment and decline of cultural priorities within their own generation. Many believe there will be no culture once they become parents because of their lack of knowledge or interest in traditional matters. Some feel that their parents failed to teach them, and others feel that the westernization and American pop culture is the culprit .
This portion of my documentary is still a working progress, but this is a clip of some of the footage I have picked up.
*Note: Lobola is traditional practice in which a man pays his fiancée’s family for her hand in marriage as an indication he able to support her, and to bring the two families together.
I went to Newtown in CBD (Central Business District) Johannesburg for the 5th annual Back to the City event. Newtown is traditionally known to be the arty side of town, which is very appropriate for the music event. Back to the City is a Kwaito and hip-hop event that showcases South Africa’s local talent pool and celebrates the blooming youth culture in SA. Everyone from musicians, skaters, dancers, graffiti artists, hipsters, rastas, and musicians went to enjoy the festivities. There were probably over 1500 people in attendance for the 12-hour event.
The event consists separate stages that include music performances, B-boy dancing, local clothing vendors, and BMX-ers. Some of South Africa’s popular musicians such as Kwesta, Prokid, and HHP gained popularity from their start on Back to the City’s stage and still return to perform to loyal fans.
I met Kagiso aka Zero My Hero on a rainy Saturday evening on the way to a music session at Club Pelican. Kagiso, 25, a poet/rapper considers himself to be a man of words. He intertwines his poetry background as a form of lyricism for his music. In the budding stages of his music career, Zero My Hero, has recently finished mixtape CD of his music and is working on building his own in-house studio.
In the scantily crowd of spectators and performers (blame the weather), Zero My Hero remained engaged and supportive to every performance that went on stage; he even gave the occasional whispers of critique to what he thought worked or could be improved.
Zero My Hero is a refreshing guy to spend time with, and his dedication to perfecting his craft is even more refreshing. He’s a man on a mission to mingle his social consciousness of township life with his love for music. After a recital of his poetry, I got a chance to chat with him for a moment.
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