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Business Featured Music Industry Insights Reviews

The New Frontier: An African Startup Focused Show Crafted To Highlight Real Entrepreneurship Stories

In September, two Johannesburg based entrepreneurs; Lungile Mayindi and Nkululeko Nkosi embarked on a journey of creating and crafting content focused on the startup journey in Africa. Now this content is not structured to give people wishy-washy and fantastical ideas of entrepreneurship; its focus is impart real knowledge, provide interesting insights and deliver value in the form of truth.

Lungile Mayindi is a young entrepreneur who hails from the East Rand region of Johannesburg, who is now based in the North of Johannesburg and has his own production company called Iron Heart Films. Nkululeko Nkosi is a Mpumalanga-born and Johannesburg based entrepreneur who co-founded WeDigitize Agency — a digital and solutions-focused agency. The two started the Youtube series to provide meaningful content about the startup journey, content that will be real and speak to the difficulties of the entrepreneurial journey and how one should manoeuvre the business world as a young African startup founder.

Topics such as avoiding burning and staying consistency, the struggles of entrepreneurship, how to network and book recommendations for entrepreneurs. The channel is structured to be an edu-tainment

Watch the releases episodes below.

More videos are going to be shared and the two entrepreneurs look forward to connecting more with other entrepreneurs in South Africa and Africa. It is their contribution to the African startup scene and they hope to deliver tangible value to their viewers and target audience.

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Featured Music Reviews

Premiere: Atlanta-based Nigerian artist, Zarion Uti, releases #AYE featuring UK-based rapper, PsychoYP

Atlanta-based Nigerian artist, Zarion Uti, is doing a lot of heavy-lifting for young African artists living abroad and those who are trying to break through, and make it. Tasked with introducing the African sound in the West, he keeps dropping banger after banger and building a solid fan base. Zarion Uti has an impressive work ethic which has earned him the right connections and support from some of the biggest media platforms in Nigeria, the US and the UK.

He comes back swinging hard with the release of his second official single of the year. For his second title titled AYE, he calls on UK-based rapper, PsychoYP, to assist him with creating an afro-influenced trap number that speaks about real life struggles that young artist face in the industry, their aspirations and the importance of celebrating their achievements. AYE is a perfect record to end the first half of the year well and it is also a great record to kick off the second half of the year. Stream AYE below.

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Featured Music Reviews

#TheForeground: BRYAN THE MENSAH is one of the best exports from Ghana

For our new feature, #TheForeground, we feature BRYAN THE MENSAH. The young Ghanaian talent has a unique sound that is a blend of traditional West African music, electronic music and Hip Hop. Traces of RnB can also be heard in the music which adds another interesting dynamic. BRYAN THE MENSAH is part of the new crop of African artists that are defining the new sound coming out of Africa. For his feature, we spotlight his song titled ‘Show You Signs’.

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Featured Music Reviews

Meet The TeMple: A duo that is at the helm of the next South African sound

We first came across Jacky Mopedi & Kenny Mlambo as the innovative SA duo called The TeMple in late 2013 when they released the video for their impressive single called Ntsango. Ntsango served as a perfect introduction to the creative world of The TeMple and unequivocally laid the precedent for their follow-up moves. They were thrust into the limelight and they followed the initial hype of their breakout single Ntsango with the release of their socially-conscious, brave and hard-hitting track titled STATES in 2014. STATES touched on colonialization, westernization and the need for Africans to appreciate their cultures more.

After their brilliant kickstart into the game, The TeMple kept on working and delivering music which was undeniably a step in the right direction in their mission of releasing unapologetically-African music. The landscape of South African Hip Hop forces local artists to abandon their roots by focusing too much on making music that mimics what the Americans are doing – The TeMple rejects that approach. The duo raps in Sotho, English and a little bit of isiXhosa which is a feat that is undoubtedly admirable.

As true creatives, they cannot be boxed or limited as they are involved and skill in other spheres of creativity, such as design and photography. It is important to note that they were also involved in the incredible shoot of H&M international campaign with South African blogger and influencer, Lulama Woolf, as photographers. When it comes to the music, they are still as sharp as possible and this is seen with their most recent release of their EP titled Enter The TeMple – a seven track project that is a sonic journey into their world.

They have dubbed their recent EP as alternative Hip Hop and you can stream the full project here. Songs like Famba, Bonyoko and Maal have a heavy African influence which is far from the traditional sounds that are prevalent in Hip Hop. African drums and sounds synonymous with the authentically South African genre, Kwaito, can be heard in this project. The Enter The TeMple EP takes us back to our musical roots as Africans. The EP is also full of culture and language, as you can hear traces of English, Afrikaans, Sotho and the Nguni language.

The TeMple is crafting the next South African sound and we are here for it.

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Business Featured Music Music Industry Insights

The Measure Podcast: Understanding Digital Music In Africa

Recorded in the buzzing city of Johannesburg, this podcast is a mixture of valuable insights about digital music in Africa and the city’s raw sounds. You can hear the city sounds, fast moving cars, taxis, the people that inhabit the city and our host in this podcast. This episode of the measures was recorded in the early hours of the morning when Johannesburg was being awakened.

Nkululeko ‘naevii dshki’ Nkosi weaves through the topic with relative ease as he speaks about digital music in Africa. The motivation behind recording the podcast in a position where our equipment can pick up the sounds of the city is to showcase that you can create content anywhere and still say something. It was definitely fun recording this podcast.

Stream the podcast below:

Join our journey of African internet radio disruption.

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Business Music Industry Insights

Digital music forecasts for Africa: 6 things that are likely to happen in 2017

For the digital music ecosystem to grow in Africa, the continent needs a faster smartphone penetration rate and possibly a drop in data prices. Alternatively, data-providing companies can come up with models that have data plans that could allow music-lovers to access digital music from African artists for free. The African music industry is still relatively small if compared to the music industries in the West.

We have compiled a list of six-forecasts of what is likely to happen in digital music in Africa.

  1. More artists are going to see the need for being digital savvy. The internet opens up a world of information and further confirms the fact that we’re in the information age. With that being said, we predict a rise in the number independent artists and smarter artists that know how to leverage the power of the internet.
  2. Social media is going to be a driving force for the push in digital music in Africa. Africa has about 146 million Facebook users. Facebook is the biggest social network in Africa and it will play a vital role in assisting artists and record labels in distributing their music.
  3. A slow but necessary shift from digital downloads to streaming. There has been a global drop in digital downloads as the world moves towards streaming where the algorithm rules and curates playlists for music lovers online. The paid streaming space is currently dominated by Spotify, but there are African alternatives like Simfy Africa and Spinlet, just to name a few.
  4. African record labels are going to forced to be more lean. Let’s face it, the internet moves faster than us. Moments are created and shared online every minute and with the massive amounts of content being published online, how does one know when to publish content? For record labels to ensure that they don’t lose money and they actually make some money in the tough digital climate, they have to be lean. More African record labels are going to start realise that they need to be more organised, have processes and systems.
  5. More African artists are going to start using Bandcamp and iTunes to monetize their music. The need to monetize the content that artists create is growingly rapidly. With drop in physical copy sales, independent artists and record labels are looking for new ways to distribute their music.
  6. More artist-led movements which don’t have a middleman. These days, all you need to make music is a laptop and a few other pieces of equipment and you’re good to go. Building a decent website that is going to act as your digital showroom is not that expensive and quite fairly affordable for artists. We’re going to see more artists that know how to build teams that can handle PR, physical and digital music distribution and digital marketing. 2017 is going to be the year of artist-led movements.

Africa is developing at an incredibly fast pace with countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa leading some of these developments. When speaking of digital music, you can look forward to seeing the 6 forecasts listed above as 2017 progresses.

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Music Industry Insights

Africa’s MP3 download era: Here’s why digital music downloads are still prominent in Africa.

Africa’s population is currently about 1.2 billion and the continent has about 362 million internet users, which is an internet penetration of 29%. The continent is witnessing a great amount of growth in the digital space and this has the world watching Africa as a potential technological hub to invest in. The burning questions are: how are the 362 million internet users accessing the internet, what are some of the reasons why they go online and how do they behave online? Well, for a starter, it is important to note that there are about 226 million smartphone users in Africa and about 150 million active mobile social media users. When accessing the web, African internet users open a world of information which leads to a need of smarter searching for what they want to see or learn.

africa's download era
Photo credit: Info Afrique

Now with all those numbers, we need to focus on their significance and what they mean for our area of focus, which is the digital music space. The one issue that is affecting the growth of certain digital advancements is the problem of affordability of data which allows African internet users to access the web. Due to high data prices, the time Africans spend online is shorter than the rest of the world. South Africa and Nigeria are the two top countries that have highest data usage in Africa and those countries have a mobile share of 78% and 81% respectively. South African internet users that access the internet using mobile spend about 3 hours and 3 minutes on the internet daily and about 4 hours and 27 minutes online using desktops. With that amount of time spent online, one can deduce that video and audio streaming has not penetrated the African digital space as of yet. Digital downloads are still triumphing over streaming and there are a number of reasons for that and we will focus on one of the reasons — which is high data prices. The expensive price of data in Africa makes the internet users in the region spend less time online and it is always cheaper for African internet users to download rather than stream.

 

africa's download era
Photo credit: Untold Africa

On a music front, downloads are still leading — whether legal or illegal. This prompts record labels and artists to use the download route for their releases because most of the consumers of music in Africa access music in that manner because it is cheaper. Africa still has a lot feature phone users which have basic internet accessibility features and allow the users to download. Most of the big African artists still see paid-downloading sites like iTunes a viable option, despite Africa having its own streaming platforms. Africa has ten strong streaming platforms which they can consider, namely: Simfy Africa(South Africa), Spinlet(Nigeria), Tigo(Tanzania/Ghana), Mdundo(Kenya), iRocking(Nigeria), Vuga(Nigeria), Mziiki(Tanzania), Mkito(Tanzania), Orin(Nigeria) and Las Gidi Tunes(Nigeria). As different avenues of digital music grow in the number of users, it is still too early to give up on MP3 downloads in Africa even though digital downloads have decreased globally due to the rise of streaming.

The key that will see artists and record labels churn out innovative ways in making their releases available for download is the need for re-thinking for how download release have been done. More can be done than simply having different forms of creative rolled out online and then supplying a download link. The MP3 download era is still in full swing in Africa and the space the continent is currently needs to get rid of mediocrity. Yes, cool campaigns still work but the industry needs to think differently keeping in mind the limitations that continent currently has. If you’re a record label or an artist that plans on only release a single only on a particular streaming site — have you considered the average internet speed in your region, how people behave online in your region, how much time people spend time in your region. Digital music downloads in Africa are still important. Re-think your strategies and innovate.

The gates of innovation in the digital music space are open. The question is, how are you going to think differently as an African record label or artist?

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Interviews Music

Connecting the African diaspora through creativity with brother portrait

Not so long ago we had an opportunity to chop it up with the brother portrait and we discussed topics such as the black British experience, London’s creative scene and its collaborative energy, his upbringing and his music and poetry.

We first caught wind of brother portrait through an unusual sequence of events which followed after crate digging at a local record shop in Brooklyn, Pretoria. We got 5 records namely, Nat King Cole’s Greatest hits, Gloria Gaynor’s Love Tracks and a compilation album called ‘Black Is Beautiful’ which included hits by Gladys Knight. Out of intrigue, we were quite curious about what the ‘Black Is Beautiful’ album was about because at the time, we did not have a record player so we chose to go on an online search for the compilation album and the first platform we used for searching was Youtube and we typed in the name of the compilation of the album and to our surprise the results of the search came up with Windmills by the Black/Other. After a few plays of the song, the Nusoulhub Radio team was compelled to find out more about these three amazing artists. The first thing we did was to do research about the members of the group and we didn’t know that the universe was plotting something that we weren’t aware of, a week or two after finding out Black/Other, brother portrait released a video which combined two of his songs called Seeview and Rearview to create a powerful cinematic story. The video was directed by Nadira Amrani and it was effort to depict the dual experience of being a migrant in Britain.

Talking about his upbringing and whether he, like most creatives and artists, has struggled to strike a balance between his work life and creative life he said the following “ I try not to separate the two too much, because I need those two aspects of my life to work together”. One’s upbringing shapes how one makes sense of the world and brother portrait, real name Hadiru Mahdi, has always had the avenues to include art in his life as he has parents who had been active in art.“Being involved in art has never been a problem, even in school and my academics I made sure that I made an effort and I did quite well. My dad was involved in the arts and music back in the day in various musical outfits and they played around the UK”.

“I try not to separate the two too much, because I need those two aspects of my life to work together” – brother portrait touching on how he balances his work life and his creative life.

We unpacked some of the experiences of being a young and black British individual in an attempt to understand some of the experiences that the diaspora face in the first world. Drawing parallels between the black British experience and the black Southern African experience and how we evidently express ourselves. Interestingly enough, most of the content that brother portrait raps about and the music that he makes can easily become a soundtrack to movements like FeesMustFall in South Africa, where black bodies are continually experiencing violence as they call for free education. Understanding the experiences of the African diaspora is crucial and it is important to document the narratives that we have as a people. Touching on the topic of the creative experiences that are seen in the diaspora, brother portrait said the following “There are guys in France that are doing amazing work, artists predominantly from the Congo are finding interesting ways to express themselves and tell their stories.”

Expression lies at the core of most things that brother portrait involves himself in and through his own personal expression and his interactions with other creatives in South East London, a creative movement was born.

One of the things that brother portrait stressed was the importance of owning and sharing our own stories. With the rise of de-colonial rhetoric in black movements in various parts of the world, the stance that brother portrait chooses to take with his music comes at a time where conversations about black identity are taking the forefront and his music aids, strengthens and furthers the conversations about the ownership of one’s blackness and black narratives. Brother portrait is relentless with his depictions of his experiences as being a black artist in the first world.

“Being involved in art has never been a problem, even in school and my academics I made sure that I made an effort and I did quite well. My dad was involved in the arts and music back in the day in various musical outfits and they played around the UK”

“I am fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by really amazing artists and I am blessed to call most of them my friends. Most of what we come up with is a result of jam sessions with friends” he said. Beyond the music, brother portrait is really good friends with Theo and Josh who are the other members Black/Other and this friendships shows in the creative chemistry that we witness in their work. Brother portrait is able to draw inspiration from his Sierra Leonean background and Theo and Josh are able to draw from their Mauritian and Sierra Leonean backgrounds respectively.

Nadira Amrani_BROTHER PORTRAIT_1.jpgPhoto credit: Nadira Amrani

It is evident that the creative scene in South London has a great collaborative energy as the creative efforts of some of the active participants in the scene are producing amazing work. “I honestly didn’t think that our work would reach this far and that it would have such an impact” he said. What is more interesting is the level of independence that artists in London have and how they are able to come together and create amazing work. “Collaboration is very important, I would like to work with other artists in Europe, West Africa and even South Africa “. The model that is used in the South London music scene to get things happening independently is fuelled by the willingness of artists to work together.

“Collaboration is very important, I would like to work with other artists in Europe, West Africa and even South Africa “.

Every great artist is influenced by great artists that came before them and this is also the case with brother portrait as he mentioned growing up listening to African musical pioneers like Lucky Dube and Fela Kuti. When it comes to producing creative work, we cannot limit brother portrait to just spoken word poetry and Hip Hop as he also expresses his creativity using other creative mediums such as photography and other visual aids. The bigger goal is keep working and delivering quality work for the masses to enjoy and judging by the successes of the work that he has put out, it is without doubt that brother portrait is soon to be a landmark in British creative scenes.

Nadira Amrani_BROTHER PORTRAIT-8 (1).jpgPhoto credit: Nadira Amrani

His ability to create work that transcends borders and work that has a positive impact on people which also allows them to relate and connect his work with their own experiences is quite amazing. From the look of things, 2017 is set out to be a year of great things for brother portrait and we will surely be following up on his movements.

From random jam sessions with friends and other like-minded individuals, work that proves to have a replay-effect is created. When it comes to the work created, expect no compromise in the content as you are geared to hear sincerity, genuineness and an unrivalled honesty.

Brother portrait is cut from a different cloth when it comes to creativity, particularly in music and spoken word poetry. The angles he chooses to take up in his writing act as windows into his life and his experiences.

We’re looking forward to all the projects that he will be involved in and releasing as time goes.

Being surrounded by and having access to great artists like Shabaka Hutchings, Yussef Kamaal and James Massiah, just to name a few, can result in interesting collaborations which me might get to hear in the mixtape dropping later on this year or the other projects brother portrait is working on.

A positive individual who stands for self-love, creativity, truth, sincerity and unbounded expression is needed in a time where a lot of crazy and confusing things are happening in the world. Brother portrait is one of those individuals and he is spearheading a rise in honest expression within the greater black body.

Keep your eyes locked on his movement as he is sure to be delivering work that will grip whoever gets to come across it. The Nusoulhub Radio team will be constantly engaging with brother portrait to keep you updated on new releases from the South East London creative.

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