State of The Streets Report: 01
“What fucking ‘Streets’ is this guy talking about?”
That’s probably your first thought. We’ll get into that but first... welcome to Rap Religion’s “State of The Streets” report. My name is Machi’ Mokono and I write this report on behalf of Rap Religion. While most of the Rap Religion writers are focused on other forms of content, I figured why not specifically focus on Pretoria’s music scene.
As it stands, whenever I say the ‘streets’, I’m referring to the culture in Pretoria.
The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.
‘Culture’ is seemingly an embodiment of Pitiori’s citizens and the unifying factor to everything. Within music realms, Pretoria’s culture can be questioned but regardless, South Africa (in totality) is filled with passionate youth pursuing their passions and trying to make a living off their talents and skills. Support for youth is existent but if we’re keeping shit 100, youth assistance is minimal. There’s progress from the days of Pro Kid, Proverb and Jozi but for the vast majority of musicians, they lack opportunity and information. The internet is an incredible asset and through it, we’ve seen a new age of musicians create and grow themselves into stars without label backing. Unfortunately, that’s led to oversaturation and the world’s biggest drug, clout-chasing.
As it stands, most well-known musicians within the South African industry receive a substantial amount of support due to their clout. There are some artists who have capitalized off their viral moments and translated it into great music. Unfortunately, for the vast number of artists, that’s not the case. The result is bad music being regurgitated all over radio and music listening platforms. Similarly, this applies to other formats – fashion, event management, art and other cultural aspects. Clout seems to be the determining factor in regard to commercialization and popularity instead of quality and skill.
Public Service Announcement:
Stop buying likes and plays/streams. Your numbers are heavily inflated: you have 10 000 plays, but nobody knows your shit. Stop fronting and go back into the studio. If your music is great, you will blow – patience is everything. Don’t be a Flex Rabanyan ass nigga.
Okay... back to the matter at hand. Musicians with clout shouldn’t be particularly questioned based on their efforts and investment as one cannot dispute the work it took to create your brand and cultivate a following. However, there seems to be a significant number of creatives and artists who are being supported with no actual substance or differentiating factor in their work. Solely clout. It’s a flawed system. Creatives and artists with real talent and ingenuity seem to only attract people who don’t easily conform to norms, trends or hype. People who take the time to find and digest new artists. It becomes coherent when looking at the South African in its totality. Notice how South Africans only seem to support their own after receiving international recognition. This applies to music, fashion and art. Why do people gravitate towards an artist after international admiration instead of supporting him prior to his/her popularity and success? It’s our mindset. As South Africans, we need to stop undervaluing our own abilities and stop conforming to Eurocentric and American ideas. Don’t be condescending because it’s South African. Quality is all that matters - support your own. Shoutout Tshepo Jeans!.
We can take pride in the fact that support has improved, however, we have a long way to go until support is substantial and inclusive. We need more “Tshepo Jeans” and continual support. There are various reasons for lackluster support but rather than focusing on the problem – let’s find solutions.
When assessing what having clout entails, you learn that a large social media presence and following is the major factor in achieving clout. Technological advancements occur every year and social networks have proven to change the marketing industry. Social media’s impact is so substantial that all organizations, regardless of the size, need to have social presence while large organizations have entire social media marketing and PR divisions. For some, large followings are cultivated through hype while for the vast majority of people, followings are cultivated through great marketing and social media strategies. If you’re an artist and you would like to cultivate a following, don’t look for viral moments. Focus on creating content, interacting to create a following and expand your social media presence. Content is king. Find a way to differentiate yourself by means of content. Payola and clout-chasing won’t work for too long. As a musician, you can’t be an upcomer and seldom release music. Continuous content results in a growing base. In addition, note that your online platform should be a direct reflection of the image and brand that you would like to create. Your image (in whatever field) is pivotal. Visibility is also vital as visual cues are one of the easiest ways to attract someone to listen, purchase or follow. Make sure we know about all your performances. Make sure we know about your pop-up store. Above all, inform your base of things that they should know about – it builds credibility and trust. Lastly, dot your t’s and cross your i’s. Whether it’s legal requirements (if you’re musician, go register here), getting quality audio engineering or negotiating a contract with a label – make sure you’re equipped with knowledge and willing to spend “extra” money on small things because one day, those ill-advised decisions will matter.
Regardless of the obstacles that upcoming creatives face, things can and will only get better. While there is no unity within Pretoria, there’s steps being taken to garner support. There’s thousands of talented individuals and collectives working and if we’re able to support each other (fuck all that fake shit!), we breakdown doors within the industry without the need for international co-signs, clout and label deals. Change in imminent and incoming. We can say that with our chests. It all relies on creating a collective culture, moving different and support quality or clout.
One thing I know though, Rap Religion got y’all.