At 15:30 Bongani (my photographer) and I found ourselves in a panic-driven rush to get to the Sprite Uncontainable Hip-Hop Finals Challenge held at Zone 6 Venue which was set to start at four pm.
A mix of relief and relaxation washed over me as we got to the venue and I realised the official challenge would only begin later at six – we hadn’t missed anything.
Comedian Loyiso Gola and co-host Karabo finally opened the show with the NBA challenge where contestants had to battle it out on the court. Treated to a double-dose of entertainment, the crowd got to watch the contestants battling it out while sexy cheerleaders did their thing on the sidelines.
Judging by the roars that erupted whenever the cheerleaders took to the court, the gents were focused more on the bouncing booties than the bouncing ball on the court. Loyiso even felt the need to calm them down. The ballers quickly regained the spotlight as they displayed some mad dunks that got the crowd roaring.
Immediately after the basketball challenge, local dance crews Artificial Intelligence and Demolition Squad battled it out to grab the attention of the electrifying crowd. In another fast-paced switch, we had a mid-event MC change as DJ C-live took over from Karabo and Loyiso. He certainly held it down.
As crowds continued to flock in into the venue, local rap collective Revivolution kicked off the musical performances before the Sprite Uncontainable finalists took to the stage to fight for that all important prize: a trip to the Big Apple. The overall competition consisted of three categories; emcees, grafitti artists, and dancers. The judging panel was graced by Motif Records artist Reason, Grafitti artist Mars ,and founder of the new school street dancing in South Africa, Simba.
Cash Time Life’s Maggz opened his interim set with his single “Change”. From where I was standing – in the midst of the crowd – it seemed as though people were sleeping on Maggz’ performance. At least until he performed his verses from L-tido’s “Steve Kekana” and Ricky Rick’s “Amantombazane” remix.
M.A Double was followed by the poet emcee himself, Tumi Molekane who blessed us with his latest single “Hello Kitty”. Tumi is one of the artists who have always been what many would call a “conscious artist” and he has never had to dumb his art down for commercial purposes. It was no surprise to see a majority of the crowd not on the same wave-length as he was.
This didn’t seem to bother him as he paused to confront the audience. “Are you mother f***ers enjoying this s**t?” he asked. “I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying this sh*t. Sh*t, I’m a f***ing legend!” he ranted as he demanded his moment. I personally thought his performance was incredible.
Tumi provided the prelude to the winners’ announcement in which Xhosa Emcee, Luthando “Lolli” Dekeni from Nyanga in Cape Town walked away with the top title in the emcee challenge. Other contestants included Andelwa Ngubane from Durban, Jason Mangena from Gauteng and the only lady, Unathi Mpotulo from Cape Town.
When it came to the Dancing category, Benny Chiloane beat Nathan Adriaanse and Alistor Adams from Cape Town as well as Mlondi Nlovu from KwaZulu Natal for the top spot. Charles Keylock, hailing from East London killed the Graffiti challenge beating equally talented contestants Werner Redelinghuys, Braden Smulders and Greg Schiffer.
After all was said and done, Reason took to the stage. All the while, one thought stood out in my mind – the time for Jean Grae and Pharoahe Monch was edging closer. Reason did not disappoint though he got a warm reception. He opened his set with “No Ordinary Being” featuring Riky Rick and Mariechan. He followed it with DJ Switch’s “Switch It Up a Little”. Reason closed off his set by bringing out Tumi and Ginger Breadman to perform the hit “Bump the Cheese Up”. This seemed like a great choice because the crowd lost their minds.
And then it was time. International superstars Jean Grae and Pharoahe Monch blazed the stage. The entire crowd went crazy when Jean Grae came out, even prompting Tumi to cut conversations short and jump from his seat. Jean was the star of the show in my eyes, killing her set with a combination of new and old joints.
Jean brought fans on stage to close her set and walked off to the sound of loud cheers and fan attempts at scoring an autograph, but you know how the bouncers are…
That didn’t kill her excitement though as evidenced by what she tweeted the following day:
Jozi. It was a pleasure, last night. Thank you for being so warm to @pharoahemonch and myself. Had a blast. BLAST. BLAAAAST!!!!
— Jean STFU Grae (@JeanGreasy) August 3, 2014
Pharoahe Monch got an equally great response as he took to the stage with the longest set of the night. The highlight of which was when he brought his favorite local act Kabomo out to perform “Still Standing”. He too couldn’t keep his excitement under wraps as he told the crowd “I’ve been all around the world yo, it feels f***ing good to be in Africa performing in front of a thousand black faces.”
Underground is supported all over the world! Germany! France! Croatia! But to see so many people in SA ROCKING to @JeanGreasy priceless
— PHAROAHE MONCH (@pharoahemonch) August 3, 2014
Apart from the power failure that occurred earlier on in the evening, Sprite Uncontainable was a massive success. The turnout was great, the organising was on point, we didn’t struggle with access and everything was actually just a breeze. All in all, a great night for hip hop. Shout out to the organisers Sprite, the NBA, ShockRA Entertainment and W.A.R Media for an event that was out of this world.