I fell in love with Butan around the same time I fell in love with Hip-hop, similar to my relationship with the music genre, the connection had to be horned and nurtured over a period of time. It’s a sweet love story that I think is worth sharing…

39948258-86D1-4CEF-8FB1-9793F2F06312 (1)The love story begins in the early 2000s, in the East Rand –  the hub of exceptionally creative talents in these parts of Southern Africa.  I would be lying if I claimed that I was raised in a musical family, neither of my parents sang or rapped BUT my mother was a vinyl collector, my father a confident giant* man who would break out in dance to the amusement of those around him, one of my sisters sang in the church choir and my brothers were hip-hop heads.

My mother’s vinyl player was damaged while we were in transit to the North West – the home of Mostwako – we spoke about getting the record player fixed from time-to-time but on most days I just listened to my mother reminisce about collecting and listening to vinyl in the peak of her youth, her appreciation and respect for the music that raised her were evident as she always explained that good music should be played on vinyl. The appreciation for the good music that raised me was integral in my appreciation for Hip-Hop. However, it was my brothers who helped refine my palette and simultaneously, introduced me to Butan.

My older brothers have always been Hip-Hop heads that have taught me to listen to a musical offering from the first to the last song at least twice before I decide that I like it or not. One of my brothers has a progressive Hip-Hop palette but in all honesty, will always be a boom rap fan while my other brother is a huge fan of gangster rap and will always prefer hard raps laced over a Dre beat, this combination of very similar yet distinct tastes in music would often result in debates over who’s the hottest emcee, the progression of the culture and authenticity. The highlight of my childhood is having a front-row seat to my brother’s analysis of Jada VS 50/ Jay Z VS Nas, while classic offerings like Common’s The light or OutKast’s Aquemini were played in a loop – it is during these Hip-Hop debates that I discovered Butan clothing on the pages of Hype magazines which my brothers collected religiously.  

In that period Hip-Hop was about storytelling, whether the story was about the government’s negligence of life during Hurricane Katrina or a female kingpin framing her partner in Common’s Testify, the story was compelling, authentic and believable.  The most revered Hip-Hop artists around the globe are storytellers, and that is a  work of art.  Butan clothing has carved its way into my heart by being a brand that is in sync with its audience and that prides itself in telling stories.  B-U-T-A-N is simply a re-arrangement of letters in the word B-A-N-T-U which is loosely translated to ”the people”. Similar to Hip-Hop, Butan has managed to tell a compelling, authentic and believable story with each clothing line. My love for the brand is a love I am glad to have discovered…

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Urban Fridays: Music Review

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It’s an obvious fact that Limpopo creatives are on a rise, it seems as if artists from the Northern part of SA are now more than ever confidently sharing their individual stories. I’ve personally been on a search to find up and coming  Tsonga rappers that can fly the Tsonga rap flag high…

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Meet Travolta, a rapper hailing from Giyani who has just released his latest single Ndzilo,  a slick delivery of Tsonga & English bars served over a smooth beat. Soothing backing vocals create the ambiance, while Travolta confidently showcases his skills in 4 minutes, 42 seconds.

Bump this song for chilled vibes or when you’re driving home.

Stream Ndzilo on the music platforms below:

Remembering Fela Kuti As A Style Icon

You are probably thinking how dare I cut down the great Olufela Anikalapo – Kuti to the bold ensembles that he effortlessly rocked or to the statement neck pieces that he wore ? 

The late Fela Kuti is best known for making music that made people move and think, he was evidently aware of music’s ability to carry a message that could enlighten people and he often used his lyrics to take jabs at those that were in social power that refused to  acknowledge the jobless, homeless and suffering African people. 

“Music is the weapon. Music is the weapon of the future.” – Fela Kuti

Fela’s lyrical content and popularity in the late 70s made him a great threat to the military government, those that are familiar with his legacy often choose to remember him for the boldness he continually showed while the authorities haunted him. The are claims of planted dead bodies, 200 recorded arrests and a countless number of raids on his communal settlement, the kalakunta republic-which he named after the prison cell he stayed in after the first raid. 

 “I hold death in my pouch. I cannot die.” – Fela Kuti

One particular attack that stands out for me is the 1978 attack which resulted in his mother – Fumilayo Kuti being thrown from a window by an “unknown soldier” Fela’s mom who is also known as Nigeria’s first feminist, passed on a few months later due to the injuries she had received from the raid. The military claimed that an unknown soldier executed the attack which infuriated Fela and as a result he led a protest to the presidential home to deliver a coffin for the head of state he also penned his heartbreaking hit single “unknown soldier” It is impossible to miss the pain that shoots through his voice as he repeatedly sings “them kill my mama” “them kill my mama.”

Olufela led an unorthodox lifestyle and in one life time he pledged himself as husband to 28 women – he  incorporated many of his wives into his live shows as dancers and singers. While many men claim that women are hard to understand, Fela’s secret to keeping that many women happy was “this and that” although he later decided to stay single after he served 20 months in jail as a prisoner of conscience. 

Please do not judge me any further and consider this – by recognizing the Kalakunta president, political outlaw and musical genius as a style icon. I am remembering the great Olufela Anikalapo-Kuti as what he represents for me. A bold, expressive and unorthodox legend. After all, you are what you wear. 

Stream Fela Kuti’s hit singles by clicking on the links below; 

▶️ The Kalakunta show


▶️ Gentleman

▶️Unknown Soldier

Interview: Blaze CodeX

The East has produced some of the best musicians in the country that one could easily argue that it’s something in the waters.. I recently got the opportunity to decipher conscious rapper – Blaze codeX’s craft and found out what really sets him apart from the rest,here’s how the conversation went…iSlenderSaMaCatalogue:  Break down your stage name for me ? 

Blaze codeX: When I started freestyling , I caught people’s attention as the kid who spits flames, so I started using Blaze as an AKA and as I grew older I became more conscious of my lyrics. That’s when I took up CodeX, because I felt like a manuscript and that my bars were a book of scrolls. iSlenderSaMaCatalogue: How do you think being from VUTA aka Daveyton has shaped your craft ? 

Blaze codeX: Daveyton gave me my identity.I became a blaze by watching legends like Maradona, Jozz-line and the late Catalyst kick it in Cyphers. Catalyst was actually the first to give me a spot to record, may his soul rest in peace. 

Play: ▶️ Blaze codeX – Dtown state of mind 

iSlenderSaMaCatalogue: Battle rap vs Cyphers. Pick one.. 

Blaze codeX:  Cyphers are an exchange of good raps while battles are a bunch of Negus tearing each other apart. Battle rap taught me how to think fast but I prefer cyphers. 

“There’s a demand for music with substance.” – Blaze CodeX 

iSlenderSaMaCatalogue: we continuously see a lot of underground emcee’s shift their lyrical content from the harsh realities of society and opt to rap about jewels and rides, what are your thoughts on the concept of selling out ? 

Blaze codeX: Lyrics are dependent on the surroundings each artist finds him/herself in. I have respect for the dudes that choose to motivate and build their audience but also understand it’ll be hard for a rapper who’s made it not to spit about whips and shiny grills – that’s  what they have around them.I grew up singing in church, so I could put out a singing record at any point of my career. [being multifaceted is okay.] 

Play: ▶️ Blaze codeX- Time iSlenderSaMaCatalogue: What challenges have you faced as a upcoming conscious rapper in SA ?

Blaze codeX: As SA Hip-Hop continues to grow there’s a greater demand for music with substance, yet it remains hard to get music that fit that criteria into radio/tv. When a conscious act does break through their considered new comers for 3 or more years which takes the craft 10 steps back as there’s new talent trying to break through everyday. 

 iSlenderSaMaCatalogue:what are your hopes for the future of SA hiphop ? 

Blaze codeX:    That SA hip hop will have a future where every genre of hiphop can thrive in the mainstream media. A future where I won’t have to sound like Emtee or Casper Nyovest to meet commercial success. S/O to Casper & Emtee for doing the unthinkable but maybe a conscious rapper like myself will be able to fill up Orlando Stadium in the near future..

iSlenderSaMaCatalogue: What projects are you currently working on and what should we expect from you in the future ?

Blaze codeX:  I’m working on a Ep titled “Pieces Of My Heart” which covers a range of topics such as poverty, love, crime and everyday struggles people of color face. I’m also working on a [Hip-Hop] group project with @NortyGravity 

iSlenderSaMaCatalogue: lyrics to remember you? 

Blaze codeX: I say the best is yet to come but for now I leave you with these lines..

Play: ▶️ The world these days

Connect with Blaze CodeX,

Facebook : Blaze CodeX 

SoundCloud : Blaze codeX

Twitter : @BlazeCodeXX 

Instagram : @blazecodexx

Tumblr : BlazeCodeX

5 Life lessons I’ve learnt from Hip Hop 

Rappers are like reporters, reporting on what’s going on around them. Whether their reporting about Rollie’s with a dab of ranch or being Wesley Sniped. We can always learn a thing or two from the culture. In no particular order here are a few life lessons I’ve learnt from Hip-Hop..

Song: Tupac – keep Ya Head Up 

Pac used this feminist anthem to encourage single mothers and woman of color to keep their heads up and soldier on in the face of hardships, because things will get easier/things will get brighter.. 

Lyric: please don’t cry, dry your eyes never let up.Forgive but don’t forget,girl,keep your head up.”

Song: Notorious B.I.G – Mo money, Mo problems 

Lyric: ” I don’t know what, they want from me, it’s like the more money we come across the more problems we see.

This song samples Diana Ross’s ‘I’m coming out’ and includes a skit of Biggy speaking on the jealousy & envy that comes hand in hand with wealth. A gentle reminder for us youngins that their somethings money can’t buy, like, loyalty and love. 

Song: Nas – I Can 

Lyric: “I know I can, Be what I want to be. If I work hard at it. I’ll be where I wanna be.

According to Nas this is the vow to take if you’re gonna be the best but first, be careful of the company you keep and read more, learn more so you can change the globe. Nas also makes reference to Africa being the cradle of civilization.

“If the truth is told, the youth can grow. They learn to survive until they gain control.” – Nas 

Song: Dead Prez – Discipline Lyric:  practice makes perfect. Health is wealth. All things in moderation.Plan your work, work your plan.
Discipline is a short-groovy track taken off the conscious rap duos début album Let’s get free, the lyrics are quite self-explanatory. Discipline makes things easier. 

Song: Salt-N-Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex Lyric: Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.

The media is highly saturated by sexually suggestive songs, videos and images yet no one wants to discuss sex openly- the single taken off the rap trio’s Black’s Magic album talks about the positive and negative sides of sex. An alternative version of the song was later released with a lyric change that addresses the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Song: Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y 

Lyric: U.N.I.T.Y that’s a unity, love a black woman (you gotta let him know) infinity to infinity (You ain’t a b* or a H*)
Women are subject to some form of harrasment on a daily – in this Grammy winning classic Latifah raps about loving black women from infinity to infinity and that’s obviously not done by beating women neither by calling women by derogatory terms. 
In conclusion..