The view of Cape Town from the top of Lion’s Head Mountain.
I visited Cape Town for two weeks to work with rapper Miss Celaneous on a hybrid music video, interview and animation project. I met up with Miss Celaneous at Big House Recording Studios, and asked her questions about her music, her identity, and what it meant to be a woman in hip hop in South Africa today:
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I showed up in Dalanzagad, the state center in Ömnögovi (south Govi) province, with the phone number of one person who I was told “might know musicians in the area.” That contact ended up telling us about a local music school, which we drove to and walked into unannounced. After my friend and translator Baagii explained my project, the teacher promptly stopped his lesson and furiously started making phone calls to several local musicians. The three musicians he introduced us to ended up leading us to another eight performers. We left the Gobi with close to fifty recordings.
Two years ago, I celebrated Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Southern Spain by marching in the beautiful and solemn religious processions with my favorite community band, the Asociación Musical San Isidro de Armilla. This year, I experienced the Dominican version of Semana Santa in Santo Domingo. Allow me to do a quick comparison:
- Processions: The processions in Santo Domingo are similar to the ones in Southern Spain, though on a smaller scale. While I didn’t see any of the pointy hats that characterize the dress for processions in Spain, there were people dressed as knights.
My name is Lena Weissbrot, a rapper and digital media artist, currently living in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Grahamstown is a small college town with passionate students and professors, and a lively nightlife full of music from all genres. For the next 9 months I will research women in Hip Hop in South Africa. I will conduct video interviews with local Hip Hop artists, film live performances, and find other artists to collaborate with creatively. As a rapper, I am interested in making music with other artists. As a digital media artist I have experience creating music videos, animations and graphics for my own music, and would like to create visuals for the artists I meet here.
There is also an academic element to my project. I have been sitting in on an Ethnomusicology course taught by Dr. Lee Watkins at Rhodes University. Dr. Lee Watkins’ body of research focuses on the socio-political power of Hip Hop around the world, specifically in South Africa and China. With his guidance, I will be writing a thesis examining the challenges in visibility and inclusion for women in Hip Hop in South Africa. I began my research at the International Library for African Music (ILAM), to collect different sources for my thesis. ILAM has a collection of many beautiful traditional African instruments. I also found some great books to begin my research.
An assortment of African drums at ILAM.
Summer essentials. Concón, Chile.
Electronic music affords artistic expressions at a unique intersection between music, an art form that transcends its own temporal foundations, and technology, the advancements through which humankind asserts its intellectual capabilities and marks its place in history. Even in its relatively nascent stages, electronic music is a format, or perhaps an approach, that reflects the social, political, and cultural environments of global music communities through the unique relationships between artists and machines.