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.”

Movie Review: Hear Me Move

Starring: Nyaniso Dzedze, Wandile Molebatsi, Bontle Modiselle

Directed By: Scottnes L. Smith

Vuvuzela rating: 7/10

Big23_hear_me_move commercial, South African films are so rare, besides the Afrikaans rom-coms of course, that as a citizen you want to celebrate every one that is released. Hear Me Move is a nice try.

Directed by Scottnes Smith, Hear Me Move might leave some people confused about a few things. South Africa’s first dance film is set against the backdrop of Johannesburg’s neon city lights and townships. Throughout the film, however, you wonder how they get from one place to another, they seem to pass between the two places without effort.

This colourful and pacey film attempts to bring the story of Muzi (Nyaniso Dzedze), the son of a famous pantsula dancer to the screen. Muzi’s father who tragically died 12 years ago becomes the driving force of the film and the reason for many of Muzi’s woes and triumphs as a dancer.

The popular township dance style called sbujwa is highlighted in the movie, and with a love story added to the mix, the built-up passion fizzles to a barely-there kiss.

The directing and producing is almost clean in its execution, and the music refuses to go unnoticed in a great way. But its clear fundamental errors were made at a scriptwriting level.

The premise of the ‘lost son’ looking for his father’s presence is forced onto the viewer and you’re left exasperated by it all. A film driven by events rather than character.

The hard work put in by the dancers is evident, and their bodies reflect this. If there is something to really appreciate, it’s the amazing eye-candy.

However their too-toned bodies are too contemporary and too exercised for the laid back, swanky, almost-too-skinny vibe we know to be sbujwa dancing, the film fails to capture that authentic township feel.

The high-end dancing and the ‘underground’ settings for the competitions, with famous judges and hosts, feels unrealistic and copied from American movies.

Not all is lost however, some moments are golden and they bring the story back to life. Mbuso Kgarebe, who plays the antagonist Prince, is formidably intense and Khanyi (Bontle Modiselle) who plays Muzi’s love interest has the kind of legs that go on forever.

It’s a fun film to watch, because of the dance elements, and as a South African it might be your duty to watch but it scores low on originality and authenticity.





South African rapper “Flabba” dies

South African rapper Nonkululeko "Flabba" Habedi has died at the age of 38 years old after being stabbed  on Monday March, 9. Photo: Taken from Nkuli Keflabba Habedi facebook page.

South African rapper Nonkululeko “Flabba” Habedi has died after being stabbed at his home in Alexandra on Monday March, 9.
Photo:Taken from Nkuli Keflabba Habedi facebook page.

Popular Hip-Hop artist Nkululeko “Flabba” Nabedi (38) died after allegedly being stabbed by his girlfriend, 26-year-old Sindisiwe Manqele at his Alexandra home on Monday, March 9 according to reports.

The death was confirmed by South African Police Services (SAPS) on Monday morning via Twitter.

South African celebrities such as Skwatta Kamp member Shugasmakx, 5FM DJ Fresh and hip-hop artist/presenter ProVerb expressed their grief on social networks.

Suspect, Sindisiwe Manqele revealed unexplained bruises and other injuries to her wrists and stomach when she appeared in Alexandra Magistrate Court on Tuesday March, 10. The case has been postponed until Monday March, 16 so that the accused can see a private doctor for her injuries.

Crowds surrounded a woman identified as Manqele’s sister when she left the court and made her way to the car. Many in the crowd were shouting “No bail, no bail!”

Flabba’s younger brother, Tshepang Habedi claims that Manqele’s wounds were self-inflicted. Earlier reports said that Manqele tried to commit suicide.

Flabba was set to make a comeback to the music scene with the release of his new song “Nay’Inkinga” featuring JR on December, 8 and his feature with Kwesta on DJ Sliqe’s song #DolikeIdo.

A public memorial will be held at Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg on Wednesday March 11 at 12pm.


Inspiration handed on a beat and a book

OFF THE HOOK: Rappers Themba Thwala, aka Mag, and Asanda Bikani, aka Nobody, explore new heights of expression.  Photo: Palesa Radebe

OFF THE HOOK: Rappers Themba Thwala, aka Mag, and Asanda Bikani, aka Nobody, explore new heights of expression.
                                                                                                                                                           Photo: Palesa Radebe

Dramatic arts student Themba Thwala recorded a hip-hop single this weekend in the presence of a rapper he hopes to emulate in the near future. For now, he will have to settle for rousing Witsies from the slumber that sweeps over the campus and the city at this time of the year.
Mag, Thwala’s stage name, is Wits’s representative in Blackberry’s campus wide search for South Africa’s next rap star. The word-slinger is fresh off a weekend with Sama-award winning artist Khuli Chana. He was one of nine artists recording a single for a chance to perform it on stage with the Maf Town rapper.


Why Do You Rap?

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to other heads (colloquial for die-hards of hip hop) on campus in hopes of understanding the relationship between hip hop and their studies.
Asked what they were “officially” studying, the hip-hop enthusiasts went from light bewilderment to spouts of philosophy at this simple question.

Third year B.Ed student Asanda Bikani, or “Nobody” when he takes on his emcee persona, said for him it was about more than rapping and listening to hip-hop music. “It’s about propagating the things people need to hear…about motivation and telling people they’re beautiful even if they know it,” Bikani said.
“I love it here…people on campus are so apolitical that if you create a platform of truth people are immediately attracted.”Bikani said what he learnt in class influenced what he rapped about, giving him more ideas to dismantle and build on.


Hip Hop is a Mirror

Karabo Randa was unusually intrigued by the “what are you studying” question, the line between her academic education and what she’d learned through hip-hop fading at the mention of the distinction.
“A lot of my vocab and the music that I listen to was influenced by hip-hop…there’s a lot ideology behind it.”
The rapper and co-host of VoW Fm’s hip-hop show The Total Package said the metamorphosis of hip-hop from the 1990s up to now interested her: [pullquote align=”right”]“At that time the music was a mirror for the listeners to look at themselves. Right now in the music, it’s me having a mirror looking at myself. It’s very narcissistic”[/pullquote], Randa said.


“There’s a weakness in our taste [of hip-hop] that didn’t exist then,” said the 3rd year BA triple major, known as Arazen behind the microphone. She said hip-hop culture as it stood on Wits campus excited her and “awoke the beast that lived inside of all of us”.

Mag, who plans to make a career of hip-hop, said he had been studying drama and art since high school and it influenced the way he wrote his music and the references he made in his lyrics Hip hop versus studies? Mag was the quickest to answer, albeit after a fit of what seemed like cathartic laughter.

Pursuit of Happiness

“I study less because I’m pursuing music half of the time. For me, the happier I am in a space [doing what I love], everything seems to work out.”
All three agreed that Wits was in a unique position to do something with the raw energy hip-hop generated on campus, be it political, introspective, or merely “for art’s sake”.