Since 2007, the 27th of April has been a special day for hip hop in South Africa. The Back To The City Festival which takes place in Newtown, is to hip hop heads what Moria is to members of the ZCC church. This year was no different. Poised to be “bigger and better”, the venue […]
Since 2007, the 27th of April has been a special day for hip hop in South Africa. The Back To The City Festival which takes place in Newtown, is to hip hop heads what Moria is to members of the ZCC church. This year was no different. Poised to be “bigger and better”, the venue was extended to Mary Fitzgerald Square. And bigger it was with 18 000 people attending- a drastic increase from last year’s 15 000.
The main stage was promising; big, bright lighting and the visual effects were proper too. The main hiccup, just like last year, was the sound. Kicking off the event was a Hip Hop summit hosted by Rashid Kay with six panelists. Some of the topics discussed were how hip hop musos can publish their music as well as getting their music played on radio and TV. Some of the highlights of main stage performances included:
After a couple of mediocre performances during the day, Zulu veteran MC, Zuluboy stepped on stage to an excited audience. He had the crowd singing along to his hooks and mesmerised them with his politically and struggle charged rhymes- nothing we haven’t heard from him before. To assist him on his second song was a lady who ‘sang’ in sign language. This was quite a refreshing twist.
Just after dawn, iFani was brought on stage to render his performance. He did what he is well known for – entertaining. He kicked off his set with his hit, “Ewe”, and took over the crowd. I’m not an iFani fan but I found myself screaming “Ewe! Ewe!” just like everyone else in the crowd. He gave an energetic performance, with the crowd tagging along to half the lyrics of his songs.
The Botswana native opened his set with his super hit “Datswassup”. The crowd went buck and chanted along to every word they could. He performed his other hit “You Knows Me” after that and closed his set with ‘MaAfrika’ – a vocal tune that did not really move the crowd that much. His performance was one of the notable ones.
Pitch Black Afro
The fallen superstar gave a stellar performance, one of the best of the night. He was smart enough to perform his old hits from his first two albums. His performance lost momentum during the closing song which was an unknown one. That was an indicator that he really doesn’t have a place in the industry anymore and the excitement from the audience was purely from nostalgia.
EMC were the surprise international act for the Festival. They brought their energy and handled the show like the veterans they are. They did complain about the quality of the sound every now and then, mostly the low volume levels of the microphones. Their performance was nothing special but the fact that they maintained their energy throughout was something the crowd apprciated. One major disadvantage of their set was that it was too long, longer than any of the local artists’ sets.
The Kimberly wordsmith was probably the most inconvenienced act of the night. He was excited to perform with a full band but the sound let him down. In the middle of one of his songs, the microphone went off and some of the pieces of the band were inaudible and the drummer’s monitors did not work. He stayed calm and kept the crowd captivated with some a cappella pieces while the sound was getting fixed before carrying on. This, to me, was the highlight of his set. If you know his punchline game, you would definitely understand why. His set was also cut short because of time.
He opened his set with the DJ Fanatic hit, “Keep Debitting” and put the crowd in a frenzy. He then performed his biggest hit to date, “Do It Like I Can”. His stage presence was impeccable and the crowd rapped and sang along. Thorough preparation was evident and he gave one of the best performances of the night.
Former Buttabing signee, Kwesta gave an energetic performance. He did the typical punchline over ‘stop-and-go’ beats. Due to time, he had to perform only two songs. He invited Cashtime Fam’s Da Kid X to assist him on his hit, “Boom Shaka Laka”. Towards the end of the song, a young lady randomly got on stage, turned her back on the ground and shook her behind like her life depended on it. This was a rather confusing and random antic but had the brothers in the audience shaken a bit.
Picture by Ts’eliso Monaheng