I spoke with Epic the Scriptwriter a while ago, it was an interesting take on a prevalent question: why has hip hop in EC declined over the last few years? Now Epic is not one to bite his tongue as is evident on his social media pages – you should check him out. After we’d texted back and forth for a bit, he said something that stuck with me – that, “We [hip hop artists] operate on industry standards with no industry”. Since then, I have been stuck wondering who decides what “the industry” is, and what kind of artist, sound, act, meets the requirements – wondering what the hell those requirements are to begin with.
The Eastern is afloat with talent, this is and has been an undeniable fact since since. Yet equally, it maintains a toxic relationship with its contributors. That’s why we’ve seen multiple artists move to and start to get better reception in other provinces – particularly Gauteng. I remember sometime last year there was a social media rally famously hashtagged #OpenUpTheIndustry – this was a plea from a pool of talented people located outside of Gauteng. In essence, we helped broaden the spectrum in as far as music/artist style is concerned. As a result, we’ve seen a shift in what our radio and television music stations play.
Now we regularly hear our friends on multiple radio stations and see them on the television – it’s an exciting feeling, that of inclusiveness and genuine interaction with talent in whichever format it presents itself. It is impressive seeing artists like Yanga Chief and Kid Tini (hip hop), Ami Faku and Wandile Mbambeni (neo-soul) getting well deserved air play. It just sucks that only when we lose our local artists do they get an opportunity to access spaces which allow their art to grow beyond a few downloads on the net. We all can definitely do better in this regard. However, Port Elizabeth is diversifying the music scene through necessary collaborations – we’ve seen hip hop DJs team up with live bands, have witnessed the culture of events come alive more often than not. The city is #OpeningUpTheIndustry and maybe hip hop as culture has not declined but has instead taken on a new face – and as the audience, we can open up a space for it to exist fully. Our industry should be defined by what we have to offer, not what we believe we should offer.
Now this is just one perspective, connect with us and share your thoughts on how we can show more support to our local artists, how we can #DefineOurIndustry!