Artists that have the backing of their community always have the upper-hand when it comes to breaking into the industry. Having people that selflessly champion your brand, brand-ambassador-style, is a great way to build a legacy that will allow you to live off your dream. In many cases, creatives who are born and raised in the township are tasked with a difficult task of becoming the voice of the voiceless, a medium through which stories of the hood can be captured and told. And for the township creatives that are privileged enough to venture into urban areas where their careers can be taken to greater heights, the task of pulling their own into these spaces is a responsibility.
Much of what we deem “culture” comes from the township: the style, the language and the essence of cool are by-products of township living. When a people is oppressed, closed off from opportunities for the betterment of life and limited in accessing resources, creativity becomes second nature. The quest and struggle to survive prompts one to find creative ways to make ends meet, and that alone becomes a seed for creativity that trickles down into other aspects of one’s life. Sure, we cannot limit one with terms like “township creative”, but the word township is a key identifier that affords and gifts anyone that interacts with that particular creative or their work, some perspective.
In the rap world, competition and “who is the best” quarrels are synonymous with the culture, feats of the culture that people outside of the culture would regard as negatives. In the case of Parley Wang, the negatives found in the culture are ignored as he has adopted a “let’s all build and pick each other up” approach which helps him build clout and a support culture where he comes from – Tembisa. Known for being one of the instrumental members of the Dapper Gang collective, Parley Wang’s work has always carried stories of his upbringing, his love for his people and the challenges that he faces as a young artist trying to make it in the cutthroat entertainment industry in Johannesburg. A talent on the come-up running with one of Joburg’s top emerging crews that has morphed into a record label – one that has been at the helm of the launching of the successful rap careers of acts like Frank Casino.
Parley is aware, observant and more than just an artist that just makes music. He can be regarded as a scholar of culture, people and the socio-economic conditions of his people. Being stationed in Braamfontein, a youth culture hub, gifts Parley with perspective and cultural context which he can use to create for the youth that lives in the inner-city. The experiences he gains, the people meets and the things he sees in the inner-city coupled with his upbringing in Tembisa, adds layers to his creativity. When speaking of language, he can easily switch between Joburg Zulu, Sotho (which is his mother tongue) and English. The different languages that he can speak add another interesting dynamic to his artistry, and not only that, it also maps out the cultural landscape and diversity of Tembisa.
The music is where he unfolds the details of his being, unpacks the stories of the hood and invites the listener into his life as he journeys on his quest for success. With every step he takes, he has Tembisa and his people on his mind and by doing so he creates from a genuine and sincere place. He selflessly pulls younger artists from his hood with him as he breaks down the industry walls, and this is seen in how he has collaborated with artists like SnazZy B and J-Hack. Parley Wang’s love for his community is his ticket to success in the game.
Stream “4our 7even”, the latest release by Parley below: