From dodgy looking Rastafarian guys with back packs to the thick-thighed yellow bones with snap backs. I’m talking about Jordan and gold chain rocking dudes, to the hippy girl with box braids resembling all shades of blue.
21 thousand people from all around the continent came together to celebrate freedom in the name of hip-hop. The annual Back To The City festival which happens on Freedom Day – 27th of April at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in the heart of Newton.
3 Stages – 20 Emcees – 1 Surprise International Act – 12 DJs -10K Challenge: Upcoming rappers and producers – Graffiti Crews – Dance Crews – Basketball Court – Hip Hop Summit – Street Fashion – Game On: Fifa Challenge – Bmxers – Skaters – Paid In Full- Rap Battles – Beatboxers – A bigger beer garden – A Trade Village – A Game Zone – A Chill Zone- Freestyle Tournament.
That’s what fans who pulled through to the festival witnessed this year. The event started early in the afternoon which was actually a couple of hours late. Big Zulu opened up the stage doing a good job at pulling in the crowd using his catchy vernacular punch-lines.
The afternoon went on and the performances started flowing in on the main stage. They took a break and a beat box battle went down. This battle saw new kid on the block Jed The Beat Boxer win repeatedly and move swiftly to the end of the battle and came out victorious.
Cassper Nyovest was the sh*t though! Boy came through with a burning set that had the crowd wanting more but unfortunately they were left unsatisfied as his time on stage had to be cut short, because BTTC was running behind schedule (as per usual), due to the delayed start.
The show had to go on regardless of the disappointed crowd, DJ’s Speedsta, Capitol, The Cut, X, Kenzhero, Zakes, were just a few contributors on stage who kept the crowd entertained with the hottest hip-hop jams.
As the night introduced itself with a very cold breeze, the performances kept everyone warm with the energetic sets we got from the likes of Mashayibuqa who had everyone in a trance with his music. The Durban native rapper Duncan came on stage and did best with his kasi raps. It did not end there, rappers Zubz, Gingerbreadman, Siya Shezi, and F-Eezy also did their thing on stage and delivered dope sets right through with their punch-line driven lyrics.
It was time for our main artists to do their thing too. Blaklez came through and they did a reunion with his crew The Anvils who haven’t been on stage together as a group in a long while.
The legendary Jeru The Damager was the “surprise” international act and was backstage waiting for his moment to shine, eventually when his set came through it wasn’t as “WOW” as we expected. He has grown a little old and now, so the same fresh energy we used to get has gotten a bit stale. It was a good performance, but I still say our local acts had a better time controlling the crowd.
Finally, Motif Records co-founder Tumi came on stage with label signee Reason and as usual they killed every beat, lyric for lyric. Reason also called out ‘Rookie Of The Year’ Ginger Breadman to perform their hit ‘Bump The Cheese Up’ and had the audience singing along to the chorus.
Meanwhile on the other side of things the Redbull stage was heated, Boyz’n Bucks really brought the house down with their amazing stage presence. Okmalumkoolkat lead the way who kicked off their set and introduced each member with a song they collaborated on and he did an amazing job. He was joined by his clique on stage, Scoop, Bhubesii, and Choc, but the crowd went bananas when Riky Rick joined him to perform their latest hit ‘Amantombazane’.
As I took a break from all the action to walk around and take a last look at was going down on the other stands, the Sprite stage was also heated with freestyle dancers doing their thing while some ball action took place on the courts.
The walls of Newtown were turned into a workshop for graffiti artists to express their art and show off their talent on the walls.
An epic night it was, but time and sound are always the downfall at this festival. If performances are not being cut on stage because they are running behind time, the sound will have our favorite rappers shouting at the top of their lungs in order for us to hear them.
Besides all the technical glitches, Back To The City is the place to be when you want to celebrate Freedom Day in true hip hop style.
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