Archive | August, 2011

There WILL be Blood… on the Dancefloor

30 Aug

This is the update on that Zeus vs Scar lyrical gunfight. Plus it sheds light on the “beef” stories.  So now that we all know where the… err beef was reared me thinks go there and get your lyrical blood lust on. Warning! There will be blood on the dancefloor… metaphorically speaking of course.

Oh a big PS. Video rolled up by Hub Television a subsidiary of  Hub Mag… just take a toke and stop asking casue you will get the low-low on exactly who Hub mag is now-now.

Put this Hype in your Pipe

26 Aug

Hip hop thrives on Beef, its what keeps hip hop so young and fresh and relevant, that occasional injection of passion. In Botswana it was often hillarious to hear about local hip hop beefs, if you heard about them in the first place. I for one considered the idea pointless but inevitable. The Botswana music industy is after all a very limited street corner for all these local rappers to operate their different cyphers on. In tight spaces invariably someone will tread on the next man’s toes and it can grow into… something… well into something.

The first time I paid attention to local hip hop beef was when I read the 2010 FB comment that Game Bantsi (Zeus if he has his artist swag switched on) ended with the words “…o tla nye…” I must have sniggered wondering why there were so many responses. I read through the time line (and I think I might have thrown in my two cents, probably on some pacifist/mediator/educator tip.) all the while thinking this is silly. I never really did discover exactly what Scar (Real name, Thato Mathlabaphiri) had said or done to prompt the FB comment. However when the online kerfuffle was suddenly on everyone’s lips, including on radio, I got to know that apparently there was “history” unfortunately no details on exactly what the history. That being that I looked at the situation and though, god damn! Lets make this work for us, and by “us” I meant the publication I used to edit. On the publication’s side it would have meant higher sales figures then usual, and I am certain it would have set a new circulation record. As for the supposedly beefing artists it would have meant more milage on the streets, which  would presumably translate into Pulas in their pockets. So it was win-win-win all round.

I got in touch with the subjects of the beef, (Zeus and Scar) and proposed a cover story featuring the two of them. I immediately made it clear that it was all a publicity stunt from which we could all benefit, after all it was the topic of the moment. The proposed interviews would have actually focussed on their individual achivements, and also point out their contribution to Botswana’s hip hop and music scenes. As for the beef… it wouldn’t be mentioned since it would look totally silly next to some top dogs sharing their expereinces on making a success of it.

Guess what, politricks got the better of the Scar/Zeus cover idea and it died in development… even now I am ammused that no one else seemed to have picked up on the opportunity, until now. The public’s hunger for friction is going to attract attention to some of Botswana hip hops biggest stars. I am certain everyone involved will bring out their big guns for this lyrical face off. Now… which street corner must I visit to cop some complimentary tickets… anyone?

That “Boom Bargain Bust” Bastard

25 Aug

The first invitation SMS to this Sunday evening performance said, “…Its called boom bargain bust. A very unique collaboration with a few artists. If you want your imagination stretched this is for you…” a tempting invitation by any standard. More so in a capital city where, in the middle of bitching about the lack of entertainment or the relatively high price of alcohol (a libation that used to be considered the cheapest form of entertainment) one would serendipitously happen upon some frankly mind blowing function mid-sentence. The cryptic SMS didn’t have much info about what to expect so anticipation was nicely whetted.

A day before the fun a reminder SMS* comes in this time mentioning some artists, Steve Jobson (probably the most respected artist in the performance collective,) Juju Boy (the singer/graphic designer with the biggest main stream profile in the collective,) and what they would all be doing – namely a 40 minute long multi media stage performance work-in-progress according to the SMS. Then the disclaimer came in, “It is a confusing piece which I doubt makes any sense. However it’s a hell of a work of art.” …Yaaa neh. With that motivation in mind people arrived in dribs and drabs right up until 20 minutes before the end of the performance.

*Turns out I was the only one to receive the second SMS… so the late comers were just being themselves.

At Thapong Visual Arts Centre, a sparsely furnished area (it was a case of BYOC – bring your own chair) featuring three screens, a key board, a small guitar amplifier, two speakers and two wire frame birds atop the central screen served as the scene of the crime. The performance was kicked off with a bird themed dance piece by Moratiwa Molema which saw a figure in a bird mask (featuring a miner’s lamp) building a huge nest of branches. “There is going to be a big bonfire here!” quipped a member of the audience, to which Kgotla Ntsima (Juju Boy) giggled then responded, “No it’s a nest. She is building a nest.” He then asked one last time, “Do you get it?” Kgotla may have been in the moment but he was acutely aware of unconscious critique from the audience.

 

Confusion did set in indeed when a poet’s performance featuring shadow play to help enhance his words came on next. The relationship between the first and second performances was never made apparent; add to that the bridge between performances provided by animation pieces, which were reminiscent of animation by Mzanzi art behemoth William Kentridge. It became clear that it may be better to view all pieces as self standing components rather than as part of a whole… unless the whole was a “hell of a work of art.”

So to review the performances that stood out this is how it went down.

 

BUNDULAMA

A vocalist who shuffles on to the stage with a walk that could be part of Caliban’s persona in a Shakespearian play, The Tempest. Actually Bundulama (government name, Dzikimani Lekopanye) has got a honey smooth set of vocal chords, something that can join the ranks of that whole neo soul thang that Khethi, Erykah Badu and Platinum Pied Pipers bring out… but he is another of Botswana’s potentially great talents that need strong management to fulfil their artistic potential.

 

B-NOTE & JB

Killing it on the keyboards was B-Note, yet another prodigiously talented musician and producer badly in need of a solid game plan and management. Ask about B-Note in the right circles in Joburg and you get a momentary pause of recollection; followed by a gasp of recognition; then comes a sound that BaTswana tend to make when they remember something vital that we didn’t mean to forget… Ijoooooooo! Yep, he is that good, but… So anyway B-Note was accompanied by JB on the guitar as they provided the musical score of most of the performances and this was about the most coherent part of the performance as it linked everything else.

 

ANIMATION

It turns out this part of the experience had many hidden hands, names that include Steve Jobson, Kgotla Ntsima, Inga Ritter, Andrija Klaric, Nikola Gaytanjie, Vivek Karmokar. So in actual fact only the Kgotla Ntsima animation (apparently an ode about Juju Boy which is Ntsima’s alter ego and other day job besides graphic design) was immediately attributable to him. The most striking animations were the charcoal drawings that were reminiscent of Kentridge and just as haunting… however as most of the artists were faceless talent I am still not sure who was guilty of which animation on the night. Oh yes there was one other animation that was a total remake of the Madonna’s video  ‘Ray of Light’ substituting Botswana roads for the neon tinged highways shot by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund in the pop star’s video.

MORATIWA MOLEMA

Miss Molema, an often rudderless talent adrift on the relatively unmarked canvas of world class contemporary art in Botswana, donned many hats in Boom Bargain Bust. Her jack of many trades approach to her art has its moments, which unfortunately become unsustainable due to a lack of artistic commitment to her audience and an over commitment to the euphoria of creativity for creativity’s sake. Molema served up three different dance performances from her perpetually bubbling creative cauldron, the aforementioned bird building the bonfire/nest (which caused the bonfire comment); a captivating burlesque routine conducted behind a screen (“I must use this in my performance,” mused a mesmerised Juju Boy); a gymnastics tinged performance between an animated parrot and a long bit of black elastic which ended in a satisfying little SNAP! This part of the performance could make a powerful ending once the whole performance is sorted out.

Only days later did it register that there had been an off the cuff speech by Steve Jobson that basically underlined the fact that the art to be presented was honest, and that they were in the middle of trying something out, but more importantly there was a sort of game plan to the night’s proceedings. TJ Dema, a gush worthy poet and underground artpreneur had a better handle on the game plan in her blog. Here is a little unacknowledged fact, TJ Dema was responsible for the Face of Africa waif that is now known as Kaone Kario… so keep an eye out for her commando unit of creative peoples from Sauti Arts.

Yebo, so the performance was a total bastard to take in all in one go…

Blacks, do Read

25 Aug

There used to be a radio show segment hosted by Glen Lewis on South Africa’s MetroFM called ‘Blacks do Read’. I would like to think the show was about books but I can’t recall a single memorable conversation about books during the show. However, the point the DJ was trying to make was to dispel the idea that Blacks don’t actually read. Obviously the sentiment is very broad so if you are reading this it might not refer to you…

Arriving fashionably late, on African time, for the press launch of the Moabi Mogorosi directed documentary about David Magang, I discovered what looked like a corporate video in full flow. It was in actual fact the story of Phakalane Estates as told by the Magang family and a veritable who’s who of gentlemen from Botswana’s corridors of power. The production will answer many an imponderable for those that had acquired the book, ‘The Magic of Perseverance’ written by David Magang… and hadn’t actually read it. Film director, Moabi Mogorosi, spent over a year turning David Magang’s 600 plus page book into a four part series of documentaries. By his own reckoning Mogorosi read the book at least three times (yes Blacks, three times!) in order to complete this production. The press was treated to the episode dealing with the prime estate’s action packed background.

The film production had the distinct pragmatic feel of a conservative corporate video so there was no flashy camera work; something so necessary for today’s audiences who have their attention span split between Facebook, Twitter, BBM, dikoloto and breathing. The gentle narration by Mr David Magang of Phakalane Estate’s tale along with his whole family completing the vision with their insights and annecdotes was a slice of film manna. To have a family so cohesively relate the story of a shared vision from their own interpretations and experiences was a glimpse into what should be the best thing about Botswana today; unity of purpose and what it can achieve. The message in the documentary besides the obvious success of Phakalane as a concept, a family business, and an investment; is in the book’s title ‘The Magic of Perseverance’; or as Aaliyah (RIP) would put it, “…if at first you don’t succeed,dust yourself off and try again.

Now, Blacks, let me tell you what Mr David Magang told me about the positives behind reading. He says back when he was working at the Attorney General’s chambers he read the regulations governing land matters in Botswana and discovered that legally speaking a Phakalane was possible. Obviously not the present estate as it stands, but basically the fact that any Motswana could buy and develop land into a ‘township’. This was a written statute that many a government official, bank manger, man in the street and indeed journalist missed for the decades that it took for the privately bought farm to be recognised as a township, developed, and turned into a regional and global leading brand that it has become today. The Magangs in general take distinct pleasure in pointing out that so many challenges could have been avoided had the relevant people just read something printed somewhere.

Now all those Blacks that avoided the book, probably joking that they will just wait for the DVD, have no more excuses. Maybe the national broadcaster should buy the rights to air the entire series of ‘The Magic of Perseverance’ right away… even if the broadcasts run the risk of upsetting many, many people who had an opportunity to help bring Phakalane Estates to life in some way and failed. Of course you will have to wait for the director, Mogorosi, to take the documentaries through the film festival circuit first before the DVD becomes available. In the interim you may go ahead and buy yourself a slice of Phakalane’s success at Thobo Hamlet before someone else does and sells it back to you, more expensively… and… Blacks, do read.

More Than Your Average Big City Spa

24 Aug


Within two hours today I recived two separate notices about happenings at Spas in Gaborone. One was a new fashion outlet, and the second an art exhibition. Well! It seems then, that spas in Gaborone are the new cool and new hip. Actually, the hood where both these spas are based is called Extention 9 (or Phologolo to the google maps savy) which is a highly sort after residential area of Gaborone with Huge garden space and Beeg houses. It does help dispell that well perpetuated myth that there is little to do in Gabs if the spas are also jumping in with lifestyle offerings. It just goes to show that life is what you make it.


So… go shopping for African design ladieswear available in size 30 to 36 from Ankara Designs at Urban Space. Ankara Designs will be officially opening at 6pm on Thursday 25th August, where you can meet the madness behind the method, Mpho Laing. She promises to send fresh Naija fashion every month for your shopping pleasure. For the launch on Thursday 25th August, you are reminded to bring BWP50.00 with you for wine and canapes.

When you are done shopping go see an exhibition at Paraiso Express Spa and Tea Garden called P ART 1 EXHIBITION – Underneath The Stars. This is, “…a selection of contemporary Artwork by three different artists by the spa’s pool side.” The art work will be, “a selection of exquiste realistic pencil drawings, stencils and mixed media on canvas. Exhibit will be up from September 3 to November 3, 2011.”
This one is free so no one has an excuse not to go.

While you are there make sure to get a mani/pedi or itsy bitsy little facial as well.

Moving Homes

21 Aug

Yawn! I just had to do it, Move. It’s when your previous home isn’t quite giving you what you loved about it anymore. Up sticks and go replant elsewhere. Hopefully some of the old bad habits will stay the eff away from the new home; and new and better habits become the new home’s theme. Well… Welcome to me and everyone who I will soon be touching from my new home.