Hip-hop champion against all odds

Hip-hop artist, rapper and Witsie, Gigi LaMayne will be representing South Africa at the Miami Music Conference at the end of the month.

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Gigi LaMayne is representing SA hip-hop at the Miami Music Conference.                          Photo: Ilanit Chernick

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Gigi LaMayne is representing SA hip-hop at the Miami Music Conference. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

LaMayne, otherwise known as Genesis Garbriella Tina Manney, is a third-year BA student who has beaten the odds to get to this point.

She grew up in what she calls “a dysfunctional family”. Her mom, who has been her ‘rock’, left to work as a nurse in England when she was just seven, and returned only when LaMayne was 15.

“My dad was an alcoholic and things were not stable … We moved around a lot. I grew up in the rough parts of Lenasia, Yeoville and Soweto.”

Her parents divorced during her time as a Richard Branson Scholar in England.

LaMayne was passionate about music from age 11 but discovered her talent for hip-hop through her love of poetry at boarding school.

“I was bullied at school and music was my only way out. I would just put my earphones in and find a place to listen away from everyone.”

“I’d always wanted to be a performer but just didn’t know which direction to take it. I studied drama at school too so there were a lot of options.”

“It’s not easy for women to make it in the hip-hop world. Women are so objectified in the entertainment and music world.”

Her journey into music was a difficult one. She was turned down four times by local record labels and when she approached Dream Team SA, was convinced they would “say no too”.

“It’s not easy for women to make it in the hip-hop world. Women are so objectified in the entertainment and music world.”

In her first year at Wits she was the first female to make it to the finals of the Sprite Uncontainable competition, where she came second.

She was then voted best female Hip-Hop artist in 2013 and 2014 at the South African Hip-Hop Awards. Recently she won the Jack Daniels music scout competition and part of the winning prize is to represent South Africa at the Miami Music Conference.

Her message to Witsies: “In the words of Eric Thomas, “you should be like a lion, not a gazelle”. Always have something internal to drive you. There needs to be a “why” in everything you do.”

Slice of life: ‘BA’ doesn’t mean ‘bugger ALL’

Queenin Masuabi

Queenin Masuabi

After matriculating, I assumed that the days of hierarchies were over. Being in an environment filled with intellectuals, I thought that everyone was open-minded enough to understand the term “different strokes for different folks”.

This was until an engineering student confided in me about not wanting to date Bachelor of Arts (BA) students. Being a BA student myself, I was shocked at this statement. I thought that there was a disease that broke out which happened to only affect BA students, but boy was I wrong. Apparently, BA students were known for their laziness. BA has been dubbed the “easy course” which does not require much hard work. These students were said to spend all of their time on the library lawns and the Matrix where they would smoke hubbly-bubbly while other students are slaving away.

This made it difficult to date them because they have too much free time and could never understand when other students were studying all day. As if I didn’t have enough problems, now I had to deal with the fact that people would undermine me because of the course I chose.

“I thought there was a disease that broke out which happened to only affect BA students, but boy was I wrong.”

According to my knowledge most lazy, unintelligent people prefer to relax in the comfort of their homes. However, BA students are even worse. They cash in on bursaries or thousands of rands paid by their parents’ for fees then “chill” all day on campus.

Hierarchy on campus

Top of the hierarchy, in this parallel universe, are medical students followed by engineering students and all other courses in the science faculty. Commerce and Law students are next and right at the bottom of the hierarchy are BA and Education students. I wondered if this was based on fact or opinion. One thing’s for sure, I felt the condescending tone from people when I told them what I was studying, even from students who take up to six years to complete a degree that should take just three or four.

I thought we had left such a mentality in the 1980s when studying certain courses was seen to be more acceptable than others. Some people do genuinely have a passion for the social sciences. They are content with what they are studying and are not too stressed about conforming to what is acceptable in the Wits society.

“According to my knowledge most lazy, unintelligent people prefer to relax in the comfort of their homes.”

After three years of undergraduate studies I would not change anything at all because I followed my heart. The bottom line is that we were all accepted into Wits, whether it was to study Medicine or Education.

All students should be respected for what they are passionate about without being judged. This means that the hierarchy must crumble and everyone must come back to earth.