Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
BULAWAYO’s hip hop industry has been boosted by the weekly Hip Hop Power Sessions being held at the Red Café with artistes and poets flexing their creative side on stage every Thursday evening.
Hip-hop is a culture that has transcended borders, cultures and identities, and in Zimbabwe, Bulawayo has arguably become its spiritual home. In true keeping with that spirit, these sessions have been a space for emerging and established artistes and their enthusiastic fans since 10 March this year and continues to be the only spot in town where you can find live Hip Hop on a consistent basis.
This past Thursday spelled episode 11 of these sessions and was a special “Ladies Night” edition hosted by Nokubonga Majenda and featured scintillating performances from Stewie LeSavage, Sativa Lyrical Picasso and Noluntu J to close it off.
According to host and co-organiser BilliusTheMajestic, the night was dedicated to “Highlighting the amazing female talent Bulawayo music and art boasts in general, and Bulawayo Hip Hop in particular.”
The session opened with a passionate spoken word performance from Stewie LeSavage who roused the crowd with her poems “Black Girl” and “Black woman”, celebrating and affirming black womanhood.
Next to grace the stage was multi-talented artiste Sativa Lyrical Picasso, exciting the audience with an animated and sensual performance of her songs ‘Everything to You’ and ‘Running’ featuring Rascal M (whose verse she rapped effortlessly as if it were her own). Her performance made full use of the stage and incorporated dance and theatrics that had the crowd swooning.
The floor was then opened up to the ladies to do Karaoke for a prize of a full-face makeup from Kiki and a photoshoot from Lulu Blakk, and the winner was a young lady named Shotty who graced the stage for the first time ever with an emotional and crowd-pleasing performance of Alessia Cara’s “Scars to your Beautiful”.
The last performance was from formidable female artiste Noluntu J. The BAA and ZimHipHop award nominee calmly demolished her set, wowing the crowd with her rapid-fire flow and confident bars and metaphors. The seasoned rapstress had the crowd chanting along to her songs ‘Moko’, ‘Dlozi lam’, ‘eKasi Lam’ and ‘Ndlunkulu’.
What surprised the crowd was a freestyle performance at the tail end of the show from seasoned rapper P.O.Y, courtesy of Red Café owner Babongile Skhonjwa. The wordsmith floated over a boom bap beat, bringing the show to a close.
With growing pains showing occasionally the growth is definitely visible, as was proven by the support to this latest episode. As the Ladies night went to show, the founders and organisers Brintz, FaRai, and BilliusTheMajestic intended to make it a space for diverse hip hop artistes to showcase and sharpen their performance skills.
“What started out as a platform that sought to include the marginalised hip hop artistes in the city has done not only that but has begun to take many different forms. Its continued evolution is something to marvel at,” said co-founder FaRai.
Co-founder Brintz said his team has been working on diversifying content and personnel for the sessions.
“Hip-hop artists now have a home that welcomes them to celebrate their art form unapologetically in the city, the show is growing to be an all-inclusive platform for hip-hop lovers from all walks of life,” he said.
Red Café owner and operator Babongile Skhonjwa who is set to do battle with Killemol tomorrow reminisced on his days coming up as a young rapper and how his support of the power sessions is to bypass the challenges his generation faced coming up.
“When we were younger, we didn’t have a platform to come out to showcase our talents. I’m proud of it. I’m liking how it’s getting better every week, ” said Skhonjwa.
The Hip Hop Power Sessions organisers have set sights on growing the brand and are planning to fulfil the movement’s apparent potential.
“What I envisage is getting a sponsor so that people aren’t just showcasing their talents for free”, said Skhonjwa.
Similarly, FaRai echoed the same sentiments saying music should be a full-time job.
“My personal dream is to build this platform to a point where artistes don’t have to have conventional 9-5 jobs and music can be their thing that they do,” said FaRai.
BilliusTheMajestic was excited by the prospect of widening the reach of the platform, saying, “We’re currently working on expanding into the digital media space and finding ways to not only magnify the culture but facilitate the conversation surrounding it.”
Brintz said sustainability would be key if the movement is to grow.
“We are now at a point to figure out models on how to make this platform sustainable for every person that contributes to its growth, and in the near future take it nationally and regionally,” said Brintz.
Either way, the buzz this show has generated is undeniable. The show has been graced by appearances from many Bulawayo hip hop luminaries, including M.U.S.E, P.O.Y, Luminous, Slickah Beats, Skillz, and Def Jam Recordings Africa signee Asaph.
The possibilities are endless, but where this platform is actually headed is up to the organisers. There is a need for the public to support one of their own, wait and hope for the best. – @eMKlass_49