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Featured Music Reviews

Introducing LuE: Multitalented Joburg Based Artist You Should Look Out For In 2020

The new decade is here and we are all wondering what this new era has in store for us. With fresh starts, expectations of innovation and new ideas are high with no room for disappointment. In the South African music industry, especially in the hip hop culture, there are quite a few exciting prospects which we think have the potential rise up to great heights. LuE, short for Lost Unfolds Everything, is a young singer-songwriter who hails from the South of Johannesburg. A crooner of note, capable of delivering vivid imagery accompanied by layered and real storytelling. Entering the world created by LuE affords you an introspective look into the life and times of a born-free, their views and ideas.

image of LuE
Image of LuE

Unlike most artists that I met, I got introduced to LuE by Pretoria based label founder and events curator, Luigi. We had a dope conversation, I got to know him and he went on to play some music for Luigi. The first song he played was Couch Energy. The song was played on smartphone and within a few seconds, I got hooked and vibing. Something special rests within LuE and as he gears up to release his second project, EscAPADE, we are sure to be introduced to a new wave of music rooted in honesty, youthfulness and creativity.

You will hear and see more of LuE this year. Want raps? Want some singing? He got you. Trust!

Listen to more of his music below.

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Featured Interviews Music

Get To Know Lord Bae: One of The Vaal’s Most Promising Rap Artists

It is without doubt that the Vaal is filled with young talented creatives who contribute immensely to South Africa’s creative industry. From music to fashion and other forms of art and creativity, the Vaal is a goldmine of talent. In the music realm, hip hop to be specific, the Vaal is a region that is highly respected with legendary rap artists such as Mothipa and Optical Illusion, the region has never lacked gifted MCs. In this new age that we are currently in, there are quite a few rappers from the Vaal that are pushing to change the status quo. Sebokeng born and bred rapper, Lord Bae, is one such rapper as he is hellbent on raising the standards of  hip hop in the Vaal. We recently caught up with him to get to know him more. Peep our conversation below. 

What is the origin of the name Lord Bae?
[Laughs], my ex girlfriend actually gave me that name. So one time, she and I were at a party in the hood. At that time things weren’t going great between her and I, so us going there was actually so we could have a great time together. During the party, she observed all the attention I was getting from other girls and started complaining that most of those girls were giving me attention instead of leaving us alone. She started getting annoyed at me and complained that it’s like I’m their god. Then she started calling me Lord Bae. After that all my friends caught up and everyone started calling me Lord Bae.

Are there any specific cultures you would say you derive your musical inspiration from?
I’m a big fan of authenticity and expressing where I come from, so yes, I would say African music, like your Wiz Kid’s and Davido’s. I basically mix afro pop with hip hop. I’m very musical in that sense.

Who has been your biggest inspiration and influence to your music?
Michael Jackson has always been my biggest inspiration since I was in grade 2. His style and attention to detail when he performed pushed and inspired me to do the same when I perform and when I’m in studio.

Could you briefly describe your rap process and how your music has evolved since you first started rapping?
Firstly, shout out to my producer, Cubin. I honestly feel that he is to me what 40 is to Drake. I write music depending on how I feel on the day before even going to the studio. For example, if what I wrote is a hype track, I’d ask Cubin to play me some hype beats, if I wrote something deep or motivational, I’d ask him to play me something not too “loud” so that people can hear the messages I want to share. I’m a big fan of motivational music, which is very evident in my latest EP, The Catalog.

What do you feel is unknown to the general public about the music industry and culture of the Vaal which is on the come up right now? What do you want to make people aware of in relation to the spaces you are moving in? 
Firstly, allow me to take my hat off to the music scene in the Vaal. We have very talented people this side which are bubbling under and are about the blow people’s minds. The music scene in the Vaal hasn’t really peaked that much but it is really trying to push the ceiling. What I genuinely like about it is that artists are really trying to push their own movements and not trying to do what the rest of the world is doing. I’m just saying people should explore more spaces and express who they really are and what they think people want to hear. This is why I always try my best to be different at all cost, which I feel has benefitted me a lot.

Many artists perform different rituals before their performances, is this something you can relate to? If so, what is it and how does it help you prepare for your set?
My team and I always pray before getting on stage. We are big believers of God’s guidance. I feel unstoppable after praying. It’s like an alter ego and God takes over everything. AMEN! [Laughs].

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far with the progression of your career?
In the very beginning, a lot of doors didn’t want to open up for me, mainly because people didn’t know who Lord Bae was, so I had to prove myself and force myself in the game. My music spoke for me most of the time though. People need to realize that everything you do needs effort. You won’t get anywhere by sitting on your couch and not going out there and introducing yourself to the people. I’ve never been scared to walk up to people and gave them my music, which in turn ended up in the right hands that could assist me with moving forward. So hustle, hustle, and hustle is by far helping me overcome all things people would call problems or challenges.

What are your fondest musical memories growing up and how have they influenced your rap? Whether it be in your house or in your neighbourhood?
I’ve always been a Michael Jackson fan, so I’d always emulate his moves and perform for my family growing up. This boosted my confidence on and off stage from a very tender age, as confidence which plays a huge role in the industry we are in.

image of lord bae
Image supplied.

What drew you to this industry? If you could bring awareness and change to within the industry, what would it be?
I saw how people reacted when Michael Jackson got on stage. Them being so happy and emotional made me want to get on stage too. Everyone that knows me knows that I love peace and happiness around me, so the thought that I too could also make people happy at shows made me want to get on stage and make music. What I would change in the music industry, especially in SA, would be collaboration. We don’t collaborate enough because people are too guarding of their successes, not realizing that collaboration would bring us more success and exposure. Look at Nigeria, those people collaborate so much, leading to the success they are experiencing now. Oh and female artists should be given the same respect that male artists get.

What can we look forward to from you in the following upcoming months?
I will be releasing music videos during the remainder of this year, starting with a video for “Comfort Zone” which we will be shooting on the 10th August so keep an eye on my socials for more details on that. Oh, not forgetting as well as some more music from myself.

Stream Lord Bae latest offering, The Catalog, below:

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Featured Music Reviews

Mapara a ko Pitori: Skeem Sa 2015 authentically captures Pretoria culture, from the language to the lifestyle, with their music

Pretoria based artist, Skeem Sa 2015, is an eclectic, cultured and progressive group from South Africa’s capital city – Pretoria. Founded in 2015 by a group of close friends, the group has emerged as one of the most original music groups to come of Pretoria. They emerge, fearless in their progression, as a group insistent on showcasing the beauty of Pretoria’s black culture, highlighting how important the city is to the South African entertainment and creative industries, and providing a fresh new energy to the South African music industry.

Sonically, their approach can easily be regarded as a fusion of Kwaito and Hip Hop and that allows them to have more creative freedom to truly express themselves the way they see fit. Being an independent act also affords them the luxury of creating what they want to create, which is important because the vibe and the experience they create is their unique selling point. Unmatched in their authentic representation of Pretoria culture, they also give the listener a glimpse of the life and times of young, black and male South Africans living in Pretoria.

The members, Badulah Joh, Exkho Alvarez, Sterring and Zete, are all skilled in their own right. One of the most interesting things about them is how they push the idea of ‘mapara’, a slang word more popularly used in Pretoria to describe a cool gent armed with swagger, style and intellect. You hear it in the music, the swagger, character and attitude. They live their raps and equipped with only their words and fire beats, they are able to paint a picture of how they see the world. Listening to their music is an experience, you are thrust into their world and are forced to listen. Their music carries a bounce that will force you to move. As much as language is one of the key attractions of their music, many people would not understand the slang used, but they compensate for that by creating catchy, innovative flows packed with rhythm that can hook any listener that has an ear for good, home-grown South African music.

In March, they released KOPO, a twelve track project which serves as an extension to their introduction which began in 2015 with the release of their first official single titled Skeem Sa 2015. With KOPO, the group beautifully unpacks Pretoria’s culture and lifestyle, and they unapologetically and fearlessly shine a light on their collective identity. Listening to the project, you get a sense of hometown pride and uninhibited celebration. If you ever wanted to know how Pretoria feels, sounds and get a sense of what the people in capital city are like, KOPO is a perfect project to give you an inside scoop.

Stream KOPO on Apple Music.

Stream KOPO on Spotify.

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Featured Music Reviews

Introducing LOOKATUPS: A cool new newcomer making waves in the new wave rap scene in South Africa

In 2018, there is no way anyone can deny the powerful force of youth creativity, especially in the urban entertainment space. With little to no barriers of entry into the game, South African kids are taking to the internet in an effort to break into the entertainment space. The internet/connected generation as some may call them is one of the most expressive and outspoken generations to live on earth. You get an inside scoop into their lives as they share their daily happenings on social media.

Community based & user generated content streaming platforms are the eventual playground for these creatives. Misunderstood by many, these kids can definitely be compared to the rebellious punk youth of the 70s, except this time around the soundtrack to their lives is not rock but trap. There is no denying the fact that trap is the most prominent sound in Hip Hop nowadays. South African kids from Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Johannesburg and other small towns have adopted this sound and they have added their own culture, style and attitude to it – creating an authentically African urban sound.

Introducing Tembisile: A young rapper from Cape Town bringing new wave raps to the coastal city.

LOOKATUPS is one of these kids who has taken to the internet to share his creativity online. His music is housed on SoundCloud and his IG serves as a platform where he can visually express himself through mediums such as fashion and photography. The young Cape Town based rapper uses his native tongue, Xhosa, to paint a picture of the inner workings of his young mind. Chaotic, rebellious and adventurous are words that one can use to describe his music. He represents his city well in a time where a lot of Hip Hop fans are looking to the city of gold for the next talent with a new sound to shake up the industry.

Stream ‘Ebusuku’ by the young rapper below:

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Culture Featured Music Reviews

Building from the ground-up: Parley Wang’s love for his community is a stepping stone for his success in the music game

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:

 

 

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Culture Featured Music Reviews

Introducing theleastimportant: Born in Pietermaritzburg, young and living his truth by being comfortable in his own skin and trusting his creativity

The South African creative landscape is exciting and blessed with talent. It is a crime to limit the South African creative landscape to only the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There’s movement and progression in smaller cities and towns all over the country that needs to be documented. Creatives in these smaller spaces are not sitting down and watching what’s happening in the bigger metros, they are bravely taking initiative and sharing their art with world. The art, when shared, often far exceeds the confines of their towns and in most cases ahead of its time.

The kids that move in between these small creative spaces are misunderstood, weird and filled with purpose. They see the world as a big canvas afforded to them to live out their truth. Theleastimportant is one of these kids. With a quirky and fun personality, he navigates the world equipped with his various talents and vision to bring something fresh to the South African creative industry. Being a 20-year-old and part of generation Z is undoubtedly a unique selling point. For someone as young as he is, he is very aware of his surroundings and well-versed in what came before and this allows him to create and curate with a solid reference point. In his music, he challenges themes that many local artists wouldn’t dare challenge. The vocabulary is there, the slang is there and the innovation is there. What else could you ask for?

Watch theleastimportant film.

In a weird way, theleastimportant, reminds one of the legendary Hymphatic Thabs in how unique he is and how he carries himself. The music is not something that you’ll likely hear on traditional mainstream platforms, and that’s okay because as a true gen Z kid, the internet is where he plays and finds himself. Aesthetics are also important to this young artist, from the artwork used for their projects, to his illustration work and how he chooses to dress. Cut from the same cloth as Tyler The Creator, Ian Connor and Joey Bada$$ – kids that took to the internet to share parts of themselves and ended up garnering huge cult followings. With what theleastimportant does and the energy that he carries, there is no doubt that he can build something similar and probably even bigger. In the context of South Africa, his creative work fits well in the alternative realm and caters to youths just like him – the weird, talented and bright youth that lives on the fringes of popular culture.

Thrill, organized chaos and creativity is what you can expect from theleastimportant’s music. He lives in his head and through his music, he invites us into his world bestowing with the gift of empathy and a pair of eyes which we can use to see the world the way that he does. He manages to showcase his talent in his ‘THE SUSPECT’ EP, a project that draws you in with its uniqueness and the content. With the production handled by the talented Subs from Arcade Music, the project was set to be phenomenal from the get go. Traces of Mosh Bounce can be heard in the EP, within the modern trap-influenced soundscapes. The stand out track in this EP is Lane Switch, where HOAX is featured. The song is catchy and the production is spacey and dream-like, with enough power to hook the listener and have the listener singing and rapping along.

All in all, this kid is really really talented with a bright future ahead of him. If he can release a solid body of work like the EP he dropped, we can’t even fathom what he has in store for us in 2018. Massive props to him for carrying Pietermaritzburg so eloquently.

Stream THE SUSPECT below:

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Featured Music Reviews

Hungarian artist, bENNY wOODS, collabs with Vitu to drop a funky tune

Cool, funky and eclectic are some of the words that you can use to describe the latest offering from Hungarian artist, bENNY wOODS. The song is called mUNCHIES oozes swagger and extravagance. From the production to the singing to Vitu’s rapping, a vibe is captured. Traces of funk, rock and jazz can be heard on the track. It is important to note that bENNY wOODS is Hungarian producer, Glott’s alter ego. An alter ego that manifests as a badass musician that draws inspiration from the blues, soul and jazz when it comes to singing.

The title of the song carries a double meaning, with one being a reference to the hunger that they have as artists on the come-up and the second being the post-high hunger one experiences after sparking one up. One can tell that the two collaborators had a lot of fun while making this jam. mUNCHIES is a song that is perfect to rock to this festive season. 

Stream the track below:

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Culture Featured Music

Listen to Sagesensei’s latest episode of his Soul(ful) Kitchen mix series

Johannesburg is blessed with young, creative talent. Sagesensei is one of these talents and we’re honoured to have worked with him on releasing the second episode of his Soul(ful) Kitchen mix series. We’re also proud to announce that he will have his own show on Nusoulhub Radio in 2018 as we fully move into the internet radio and podcast network space.

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Featured Music Premiere Reviews

Unapologetically Bantu: Willing Listeners Forum accentuates the daily experiences of young Bantu men in alternative culture

Pietermaritzburg born creative, Willing Listeners Forum (real name Sbongiseni Dlamini), is unapologetically Bantu. An individual who chooses to live his truth beyond the boundaries of mass culture, Willing Listeners Forum is a necessary anomaly within the creative industry. An artist, more often than not, does not choose to exist and communicate their art in the alternative realm – it’s often who they are. A story of who they are, their upbringing, their influences and the knowledge their ancestors passed down from generation to generation is expressed and relayed in their art. Their artistry is connected to the very fabric of who they are, their make-up and their purpose.

With the help of longtime friend and frequent collaborator, Blue Fluff, WLF (short for Willing Listeners Forum) has shifted the surface within the South African alternative and underground rap circles. Having started out in Kwa-Zulu Natal, he has gone on to move to the city of gold, the city where dreamers journey to in hopes to make their dreams a reality – Johannesburg. Armed with nothing but his unique artistry, he has tasked himself to accentuate the daily experiences of young Bantu men in alternative culture. The music he makes pays homage to greats of old, elevates and breaks boundaries of modern rap music. Simplistic in its nature, the songwriting is enhanced by WLF’s understanding of music which allows him to curate a vibe – a skill that only a few artists possess.

After working tirelessly trying to get the attention of the masses, WLF has gone on to release the long-awaited Misto EP. He called on fellow artists and frequent collaborators, Johnny Wxlf, Orakill and Heatwave Deniro. Twelve of the thirteen tracks were produced by Blue Fluff, with only one song produced by the talented Harrismith-based producer, Swish 8-8.

Stream/Watch our premiere of the first single of the Misto EP.

The Misto EP is a collection of experiences and life lessons, captured beautifully by WLF as he hovers so elegantly on the beats. As much as the EP may be a reflection of where WLF is in life, but it also serves as a work of artwork created out of defiance. How you may ask? The word “kaffir”, a derogatory word used to describe people of colour in South Africa, is reclaimed and given a new meaning. Like the word nigger in the States, kaffir communicates the same thing but has been reclaimed by the marginalized as a new term of endearment in an act of defiance. WLF boldly does the same thing, strikes a nerve and forces you to think of the power we often give to words used to describe people of colour. The genius behind what WLF does with his music is that the often ignored and uncomfortable topics are embedded in his craft, sometimes unnoticeably. The gems of knowledge that are communicated in his music are coated eloquently by the atmosphere created in his music.

The rapport between WLF and Blue Fluff is a sublime act of the universe, where the universe showcases its power by connecting two creatives that understand each other so groundbreaking work can be delivered. There is something about the music, something you cannot find in mainstream music – the connection and the vibe. Ideas are given an opportunity to flourish, innovative concepts live within the music and courage is also displayed. Courage to avert from creating what is popular.

The themes communicated in the Misto EP are something you’d rarely hear from a South Africa rap project. The topics range from African pride, love, women, youthful ignorance and the struggles of life.

Stream The Misto EP below:

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Featured Music Premiere Reviews

Passion, hope & intuition: Danger Power Ranger’s ‘Selfish’ re-release shows us why you should believe in your art

Releasing music is not an easy task. For many musicians, the creative process is easier because they get live in their element. The administration that comes with choosing a single for a project soon to be released, handling publishing and distribution, and liaising with collecting societies for royalty payments takes a lot of time and effort. Then there is marketing and public relations. Without the help of a machine, big or small, a musician often becomes inundated and a feeling of despondence often creeps in. Independence is a mission and funny enough for independence to work in the music industry, you need a solid team behind you to help you achieve your goals. They say no man is an island and that saying resonates beautifully within the context of the music business.

Beyond the miscellaneous activities that happen behind the scenes in the music industry, an artist needs three ingredients to have the impact they want when releasing music, which are: passion, hope and intuition. Passion is probably the first requirement when a creative embarks on journey of releasing work for public consumption and criticism. Vulnerability often sits deep within passion, as the very fabric that makes up the creative is often aligned to what the creative is passionate about and that is further linked to their destiny.

Mishaps and misses happen when releasing a body of work, so faith in your craft is what will often carry you through the failures. Hope accompanied by a powerful work ethic affords you leverage when the music is out. Intuition is what glues everything together and serves as your guide when things become cloudy and confusing.

Johannesburg-based creative, Danger Power Ranger, had to go back to the drawing board after releasing ‘Selfish’, his third single off his upcoming mixtape. The mixtape was set to be released last month but had to be pushed backed as he realised that he needed to build a proper roll out plan. This time around he had all the passion, the intuition and the motivation to release something better for the masses. He swings back with Selfish 2.0 with production handled by talented producer, ENKEI, who now produces for Pretoria-based crew The Wrecking Crew.

 

Image credit: Danger Power Ranger

The release is accompanied by groundbreaking visuals which give the listener a glimpse into Danger’s life, passions and his love for anime. Lyricism is what you’re always expected to receive from a Danger Power Ranger song. Danger captivates in Selfish 2.0, proving to us why he is one of Johannesburg’s best kept secrets.

There are two lessons one can derive from the re-release of Selfish: never give up on your art and your art is never complete. You can always re-work your art because it’s your art. Package it in a way that better represents who you are and what you are trying to achieve.

Stream Selfish 2.0 below: