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Pioneer Unit sponsoring Capital Gain battle at Scrambles4Money

Capital Gain

We’re proud to announce that Pioneer Unit is sponsoring the forthcoming battle between Fungus and Kadence at Scrambles4Money’s Capital Gain event this coming Sunday, 9th June in Joburg. We are massive fans of what S4M has achieved in such a short period of time and are proud to be sponsoring two of Cape Town’s finest in this forthcoming battle. We hope to continue our relationship with Scrambles4Money by sponsoring future events.

Scrambles4Money (S4M) is South Africa’s premier rap battle league, taking the art to a whole new level through its professionalism and in-depth understanding of the culture. The world is also being exposed to a new wave of South African talent – at the upcoming Foreign Exchange final, the winner will be accompanying S4M founder and vicious battle cat, Gin-i Grindith, to the King of the Dot World Domination 4 finals in Canada. This is a massive accomplishment for such a new league – and proof that S4M is already a force to be reckoned with.

If you’re in Joburg this Sunday, make sure you don’t miss this epic day of the finest battle rap in South Africa. You’ll get the final of Foreign Exchange (Illite VS Cerebro) plus a full card of Capital Gain including Fungus VS Kadence, Pava Guns VS Musa Mission, Jake Baker VS Discypal, Demon VS Willy Wroth, Inferno VS Slyme and many more!

Date:
Sunday 9th June 2013

Venue:
Grayscale
33 De Korte Street,
Braamfontein,
Joburg.

Time:
Battles start at 12:00 sharp

Price:
R60

For more information check out Scrambles4Money’s Facebook page

Let us know your predictions for this event in the comments below!…

That’s how we rrrrrrrrroll!!

Driemanskap heading to Washington DC to take Part in 8th Annual SA Week

September 15, 2011 Culture, News, Tour News No Comments

Driemanskap - Igqabhukil' Inyongo

On Sunday 18th September Driemanskap will be joining a heavyweight delegation of some of South Africa’s finest musicians who are heading to Washington DC to take part in the 8th Annual SA Week.

SA Week is a 7 day event held in Washington DC to celebrate South African culture and heritage through music, art, cuisine and fashion. It also aims to create an opportunity for South African artists and musicians to showcase their talents. The event, now in its 8th year, is hosted by Khabo Mabe On Time, Inc., a Washington-based South African company that was set up to promote South African interests in the United States.

Driemanskap will be joining musicians, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri, Stimela, BLK JKS, Thandiswa & Nomsa Mazwai, Lorraine Klaasen and Black Coffee, as well as a host of esteemed participants including the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile.

The packed itinerary includes a series of daily cultural and business events, culminating in a music extravaganza on Saturday 24th.

Stay tuned to PioneerUnit.com for regular updates, photos and videos documenting Driemanskap’s trip. You can also get live updates by following @Driemanskap, @pioneerunit and @MthethoTshemese (Driemanskap’s manager) on Twitter.

Click here for more information about SA Week (including detailed itinerary)

That’s how we rrrrrrrrroll!!

Driemanskap Re-release Itsho Into to Commemorate the Soweto Uprising

June 16, 2011 Culture, Free MP3, Music 2 Comments

I first heard Itsho Into in 2005. It still remains one of my favourite hip hop tracks of all time. El Nino, Redondo and Ma-B (Dla hadn’t joined the crew yet) spit righteous flames on the Lungelo-produced anthem.

When the organ starts and El Nino says, “Rest in peace to the Gugulethu 7, Bantu Biko, Chris Hani! Driemanskap!” and Redondo shouts, “Fire burn!”, it gives me chills every time. The original separates for Itsho Into have long been lost and the only remaining recording is a bit rough, but the passion in the words still burns through.

Driemanskap have re-released Itsho Into to commemorate the Soweto Uprising, which took place on this day in 1976. On that day, 35 years ago, a student leader called Tsietsi Mashinini organised a mass-demonstration, taking a stand against the Apartheid regime. Many young people lost their lives that day but it was a turning point in the liberation struggle.

Today in South Africa June 16th is a public holiday called Youth Day. It is important to remember what this day actually commemorates so that it doesn’t just become a day off or another excuse to party.

You can download Itsho Into by clicking the black arrow on the right side of the music player below…

Itsho Into – Driemanskap by PioneerUnit

That’s how we rrrrrrrrrrroll!!

Driemanskap Featured in Guardian (UK)

March 17, 2011 Culture, Press No Comments

SA hip-hop: Rapping in vernac

SA hip-hop: Rapping in vernac

Driemanskap were featured in an article titled, Hip-hop: who represents South Africa, in the UK-based newspaper, the Guardian. The article, written by South African ex-pat, Rob Boffard, was also re-printed in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian under the title, SA hip-hop: Rapping in vernac.

El Nino speaks frankly about the state of the music industry, particularly in relation to the type of music that gets the most airplay in South Africa…

“They’re not giving us time, because we don’t sound American – we’re South African to the core. We talk about real social ills that are affecting my people. And South Africa, my friend, is about mediocrity. Mediocrity sells here.”

El Nino went on to question the undue influence US hip hop still has on its South African counterpart, “Hip-hop started in the Bronx, but now it’s in Africa. Why can’t we do it our own way?”.

Check out the full article on the Guardian (UK)
Check out the full article on the Mail & Guardian (SA)

That’s how we rrrrrrrrrrrrroll!!

Language Barriers in Global Hip Hop

February 10, 2011 Culture 3 Comments

I recently estimated that around 80% of the hip hop I listen to is not in my mother tongue, English. People seemed amazed that I listen to so much hip hop in languages I don’t speak. ‘Surely hip hop is all about the lyrics’, they argue, ‘if you can’t understand what’s being said, what’s the point?’

The answer is partly because it’s my job – I run a record label in Cape Town and many of the artists rap in Afrikaans, isiXhosa or Sesotho. However, that is more the result of the answer than the answer itself.

The reason I started a record label in Africa is that, when I first moved to Cape Town from London, I was blown away by the raw talent of many hip hop artists here. I was also amazed to see how vibrant the B-boying, DJing and graffiti scenes were. There were also activists who cared about their communities and were using hip hop as a medium to help others. In other words, hip hop culture was alive, well and relevant thousands of miles away from New York. If anything hip hop in South Africa was much closer to the original hip hop culture that has become commercialised and diluted in the States.

To me, hip hop is a medium of expression that makes as much sense in France, Japan or Africa as it does in New York. The fact that I can’t speak Afrikaans, isiXhosa or Sesotho doesn’t stop my enjoyment of the music. On a basic level, I can still hear the way the words flow on the beat, the rhyme structure and most of all, the passion that has gone into the performance.

When I’m recording with rappers (who’s language I don’t speak) I generally get them to tell me what the song is about, and to give me a translation of whichever bits particularly catch my ear. This way I get to learn some new words but, more importantly, I get an amazing insight into their culture, how they see the world and how they really feel about certain issues.

One song that particularly stands out is ‘Camagu’ by Driemanskap. The song is about how young urban Africans should still respect and understand their traditional African culture. Driemanskap found it very difficult to give a direct translation of their lyrics as they referenced so many aspects of their culture that required a lot of explantion. I learned a lot through this process, and whilst I still do not understand exactly what they are saying, when I watch them perform the song, and see the crowd’s response, it’s an incredibly powerful experience. I feel no language barrier whatsoever.

With the increasingly powerful globalisation of American culture and the hegemony of American media, it’s easy for non-English language music to get overlooked or sidelined in the name of international accessibility. This is a real shame.

It takes a bit more effort to get into music that is not in your mother tongue but it can be incredibly rewarding when you do. I’ve always found that people in Cape Town are extremely happy to spend time explaining the lyrics of any track I show interest in, so it’s not that difficult.

In South Africa, many rappers still choose to rap in English with American accents or choose English over their mother tongues for the sake of accessibility. Undoubtedly there’s also a certain ‘cool’ factor to sounding American. We’re constantly exposed to American TV and music so it’s understandable that many young rappers would be influenced by hip hop icons like Lil Wayne, Jay-Z or Talib Kweli. The irony that these rappers are constantly exhorting their audiences to be themselves through the expression, ‘do you’, seems to be lost on them.

Part of the problem is that hip hop is still perceived as an American artform. It originated there and therefore American hip hop is the only ‘real’ hip hop. This misconception is so prevalent and powerful around the world that many hip hop artists outside the States struggle to find their own indentity. In the UK, many hip hop artists started out by rapping with American accents. I was recently told by DJ Flagrant, an Australian DJ and manager of fellow Australian producer, M-Phazes, that the American accent phenomenon occured in Australian hip hop too. Luckily in the UK and Australia it has largely died out artists realised that they connect to their audience in a much more powerful way when they use their natural accents, slang or dialects.

It’s bad enough that audiences miss so much when they only experience the world through English language music. It’s even worse when non-English language artists feel coerced into using English in the name of accessibility.

Check out Sweet by Jaak. The song is in Afrikaans but I have included an English translation below. Although some of the poetry of Jaak’s writing is lost, I believe that, even in English, it’s still very beautiful. You can also check out the original Afrikaans lyrics.

Chorus
After all that happened in this fantasy land/ Im caught off-guard/ But we hold our ground/ Remember to remember/ Forget to forget/ But we know that dreams live off sweat

Verse 1
My stroll is a range of controlled falls/ Formulated for the wrong color/ in deranged masses/ With my hands rolled in fists/ In a culture of forgotten tribes/ Walks the infamous crazy one/ And spits flavored loogies
And we work it out within bounds and time/ And sometimes look to the mountain for help
To work the land is crucial/ Even in sneakers and fatigues like Fidal/ With hair-caps in factories and to socialize/ All for nappies, washing powder and rent money/ And for Chappies bubblegum after Masjiet and remember to buy the safety pin
I’m a rural coastal dweller/ trapped in a valley this long/ foreskin swell when making a piss bomb/ predicting hell like the diss-guy/ recounting money like “that’s right!”/ all the whilst getting reprimanded by the choir/ spank him!
The style is bitter because it’s good for you/ Medicine that keeps the blood clean/ as the lines shades the book blue/ and the signs makes the thief fold/ Big belly Boers hits you with a,”It’s mine!”/ All the while Cape heads are observing this
It’s all downhill while I’m speeding/ 1st prize at the cake fete depends on how yellow the orange peel color the cake/ When in love, share something sweet/ The grieved are in need of sweets – go play!/ Thats why I’m going for it solo/ Curse the wing (as in rugby)

Chorus
After all that happened in this fantasy land/ Im caught off-guard/ But we hold our ground/ Remember to remember/ Forget to forget/ But we know that dreams live off sweat

Verse 2
I’m right back in it like a clean licked dessert bowl (no need to wash, just put right back in cupboard)/ Labarang, feed me Ahknee/ Watch me, oh no!
Put fingertips together and spin a concept/ remind them where the sun sets/ satisfied even with a bronze medal
Let it go if we ahead of you/ Because we go as fast as Oscar Pistorius/ Your team is in front…of the bus/ so near but you miss the target/ makes you wonder what his case is
I move in the minefield of the mind/ while I declare myself free of pain/ Asshole of the south gets rowdy after wine/ while i spell my rhymes in the train/ I’m going against the grain/ “Jaak, you’re crazy insane”
Rap till I’m all done/ while you show me to come on, the dog’s asleep/ Come on! The sun’s blazing/ Its safe, draw guns/ the cops know it’s our week/ In that way we got the law by the balls/don’t point the finger!/ kick! (as in rap)
And we don’t add sugar to honey/ get the facts from me/ tense like the Achilles tendon/ understand the meaning of “geite” (geite = thingy)/ and rock outside against it/ I drink from the saucer/ while you break windows for money
We are powered by our function/ Right too stiff and definitely not Left/ you don’t duck too quick/ and to say rap is not an art is to say then that “Ou Ryperd” isn’t a stallion/ And then real cats don’t ride in Bins (souped up Datsuns)/ Isn’t!

Chorus
After all that happened in this fantasy land/ Im caught off-guard/ But we hold our ground/ Remember to remember/ Forget to forget/ But we know that dreams live off sweat

Verse 3
And sometimes the brain is too fast for the pen/ But I never give a wrong prescription for the patient
You’ll know me for my passion/ And my formal “suite and tie” voice/ see me on TV/ Because then I’m in the zone
Come down on you like slash of cold water/ I bring it square like bricklayer talk/ and do it quickly like old work/ I spit it calmly through clenched jaws/ As the words spat through hot streets/ to weaken your jokes
And now George (the town) is bush again/ and we keep looking for food/ but we eat Meebos/ and we smoke weed/ It’s us again, shout “hosh!”/ and get us on email/ But we sweat more, Josh/ And again Soeksoek is rocking! HOP!

10 Gems for SA Hip Hop from Chuck D

December 7, 2010 Activism, Culture, Opinion 2 Comments

Chuck D at Red Bull Studios

I first saw Public Enemy Live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in 1987. It was a mind blowing experience that I will never forget. It changed the way I thought about music forever and is still an inspiration for the work I do today.

Chuck D is an icon of conscious hip hop and a true music revolutionary. Last night I was lucky enough to attend a Public Enemy workshop at Red Bull Studios in Cape Town. Chuck D spoke for 2 hours on the state of hip hop and global music culture. He also spoke extensively on the future of (South) African hip hop. Shaking his hand and listening to him talk yesterday was an incredibly moving and inspirational experience.

Although Chuck D spoke at great length, and in great detail, I thought it would be a good idea to create a list of 10 most interesting things I remember. I originally posted these on Twitter (#10GemsFromChuckD) and Facebook, but Mikko Kapanen suggested that I give them a more permanent home on this blog, so here we go…

‎01. Don’t be an ‘Afrimerican’ – don’t copy the US. Be proudly African

02. SA needs an infrastructure that supports local hip hop (DJs / radio / media / blogs)

03. Don’t let corporations (like MTV or Metro FM) dictate your musical / cultural agenda

04. Be accountable for the music you make – words are powerful and have consequences

05. Africa can be a global hip hop powerhouse if it chooses to be. Believe!

06. Embrace indigenous languages – that’s what makes us unique in the world

07. Focus on your live performance – your live show must kick your video’s ass

08. Groups or movements are more powerful than a single person. Be a team. Up your game!

09. Build strong networks in SA, and throughout Africa. Connect the continent

10. Confront difficult issues of race and inequality in South Africa – these are stories people need to hear

Catch Public Enemy tonight at The Assembly and tomorrow night at Atmospheer.

That’s how we rrrrrrrrrrrrroll!!

Rattex Accused of Being Poison

January 16, 2009 Culture No Comments

Nic Haralambous wrote a vitriolic piece about Pioneer Unit Spaza artist Rattex on his personal blog in which he accused him of, “poisoning the music and culture in South Africa.

Haralambous’ accusation came after watching the video to Rattex’s first single, Get Down. Haralambous, who is the General Manager of Zoopy in Johannesburg and a ‘qualified journalist’ asked, “Is it so tough to be local that you mimic American artists down to the background colour of your music video, your caps, baggy shoddy denims and “bling”. Why are our young rappers trying so hard to be American?

The ironic thing about the timing Haralambous’ attack on Rattex was that he published it the very same day as another Zoopy employee, Terri Hayward, contacted us in order to set up an interview with Rattex, “to discuss his album Bread & Butter and to chat about what makes him different in today’s market.”

Needless to say, we vehemently disagreed with Haralambous’ defamatory claim, accusing him of cultural ignorance and thinly-veiled racism.

Go and read the blog post (and subsequent replies) here and make your own mind up…

FREE MP3 – ‘Top Class’ (Get Up Remix) by Bruinstormaz

December 30, 2008 Culture, Free MP3, Music No Comments

Cream

Cream from Bruinstormaz Check out this brand new Bruinstormaz remix of 50 Cent’s current hit Get Up.

Bruinstormaz is Cream and Bitter – you’re going to be hearing a lot more from this duo from Kuila (Kuilsrivier), Cape Flats, in the near future so keep it locked…

Top Class (Get Up Remix) – Bruinstormaz – MP3 – (7.4MB)

Top Class (Get Up Remix) – Bruinstormaz – ZIP – (6.4MB)

That’s how we rrrrrrrrrroll!!

Trace Your Roots to feature music by Ben Sharpa, DJ Raiko and Soweto Kinch

Trace Your Roots

Make sure you tune into Trace Your Roots, a 13 part SABC 1 series documenting indigenous knowledge systems and African cultural practices to see how they apply to the modern African.

Produced and Directed by Isaac Chokwe aka Krook’d, with original music by Ben Sharpa, DJ Raiko and Soweto Kinch.

The first show will be airing on SABC 1 on 20th August at 18:30.

Join the Facebook group for updates and more info.

Hip Hop Role Models in SA Media

June 10, 2008 Culture No Comments

Crack Boys Fashion Shoot - Hype Magazine

Crack Boys Fashion Shoot - Hype Magazine

I have a lot of respect for what Mizi and his team are doing for SA Hip Hop at Hype Magazine, but I was concerned with the Crack Boys fashion shoot in this month’s issue.

Do we really need to glorify drug dealing, gangsterism and gunplay in South Africa? Is this the sort of imagery we want to have associated with SA Hip Hop?

I know they are called the ‘Crack’ Boys, but as Cash has explained on numerous occasions on Africa’s Gateway, that is just a metaphor borrowed from Juelz Santana to explain the addictive nature of their music and the street hustle associated with selling it (although Cash does stretch the nature of that ‘metaphor’ to breaking point by having white powder on his CD cover, but that’s another issue).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Doing a photo shoot that actually portrays the Crack Boys doing drug deals, unpacking cocaine and posing with gats takes the concept beyond a metaphor. Hype Magazine is buying into, and implicitly supporting, the glamourous gangster fantasy that white corporate America has been force-feeding the world for years. Remember, we’re not talking about real life here – Hype is not addressing the reality of the social situations that lead to gangsterism and drug dealing – it’s just a fantasy fashion shoot.

Putting a red circle with the diagonal line through it over the guns doesn’t absolve Hype of their responsibility for promoting this imagery. Where is the red circle over the cocaine? Is Hype saying that guns are bad, but cocaine is ok? 50 Cent has a beautifully shot series of photos that portray G-Unit in a variety of strikingly similar scenarios. The difference there is that 50 actually claims that that imagery represents his real life, and has built his whole persona around this.

You could argue that Curtis Jackson has created 50 Cent as a fantasy gangster for the sake of entertainment no different to Ray Liotta playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Indeed, this is an argument often used by ‘gangster’ rappers when they get arrested. However, the point still remains; in a country that is afflicted by drugs, guns and gangsterism, is it responsible behaviour to glamourise gang culture, drug dealing and violence to an impressionable young audience?

What would have been wrong with showing the Crack Boys hustling their mixtapes at parties, choosing which Louis Vuitton bag to buy or investing in property? These are things that are based in reality and that would provide something positive to aspire to?

Wordsworth made a great point at the Red Bull Academy talk he gave in Cape Town recently. He said that rappers are often poor role models because, when interviewed, they just talk in cliches instead of saying anything that a young kid can listen to and learn from… “yeah, you know how we do”, “we’re grindin’ dawg”, “we ballin’ out of control”, “we thuggin’ it out big style” etc.

It’s ironic that Hype is guilty of putting out mixed messages. On page 7 of the same issue there’s a ‘Hype court order’ made out to Seida Crook for being involved in a cheque fraud syndicate. It says, “You’re meant to be a role model Crook. Do the right thing.

Maybe I’m making way too much of this whole thing (it is just a fashion shoot after all), but the Hip Hop community and the media that represents it mustn’t forget its responsibility to the community at large.

Peace to everyone at Hype Magazine and The Crack Boys.

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