A LITTLE TENDERNESS

My favourite thing in the world used to be talking to musicians… about music. This marks the 12th year since my byline first appeared in print and I’ll admit: my favourite thing in the world is still talking to musicians…about music. But I didn’t always know that that was what it was. I used to think my favourite thing was writing. After a few years of what seemed like writing articles only my editor read, my love for writing began to wane. And every year my imposter syndrome (a blog post for another day) intensified. Eventually, I didn’t think I was a real writer. Then last year came. I got to take what would usually die on the page and breathe life into it on a different platform. I realise, only now – on the first day of 2018 – that I was being hard on myself. That I am a writer. Or maybe not. But one thing is for sure: I am happiest when speaking to musicians about music. And if they are happy talking to me then that’s enough for me. This year, I aim to become a great interviewer – who happens to write, present, produce, heck, whatever. That’s why I’m doing The Artist’s Way again. Yes, I said again. When I first did it, it changed my life so much I think I bought five copies for friends and even acquaintances who just seemed like blocked artists. Now that I have an idea of the direction I’m going in, I know I need help getting my toolbox together. I need Julia Cameron to help me try a little tenderness towards my artist child, my closet egomaniac, my inner imposter. I’m going to attempt to blog about my artist dates – seriously, go get the book – and to share what is likely to be 12 weeks of extreme highs and lows. But through all that, I aim to come out on the other side a phenomenal interviewer who makes musicians feel like they haven’t wasted their time talking to me about music. I have to bet Read More …

On: Sacha Jenkins

Sacha Jenkins sounds like he’s in high spirits. The day I catch up with the New York-based graffiti artist, hip hop culture journalist, author and film director, his five-year-old child has just graduated from pre-kindergarten. What unfolds during our conversation about his critically acclaimed documentary, Fresh Dressed, is the graduation of streetwear. Fresh Dressed will be screened tomorrow night on BET Africa as a part of the channel’s AfriDocs series. It features candid conversations with fashion designers behind brands like Cross Colours, Karl Kani and Walker Wear as well as photographers like Jamel Shabazz and artists like Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Diddy. Pretty early on in Fresh Dressed, the viewer is taken back to slavery and the advent of “Sunday best” clothing. So I ask Jenkins why he chose that as a departure point. “I’ve been writing about hip hop music for over 25 years and you can’t understand the blues or hip hop or any experience in America that involves black people without dealing with slavery,” Jenkins starts. “We were, for the most part, emancipated in 1865, which seems like a long time ago but when you see that the vestiges of slavery are still in our faces and you see that there are generations and generations of folks who still have a strong connection to the oppression their ancestors faced, how can you address the fashion that inner city youth wear without addressing slavery? “The only reason why I know this and the main reason why I am invested in this is because I’m black and because I grew up in the inner city and because I am in the media and often see that these films, products and projects that involve and revolve around folks of colour in the inner city are often not made by folks of colour in the inner city.” He continues: “So many important things that went into the inspiration and evolution of subcultures deal directly with black oppression. That’s why I felt it was necessary to go there”. Fresh Dressed then moves on to fashion in gang culture, in the birth Read More …

The MAF Arts Journalism Awards

The National Arts Festival (NAF) has these awards where they shower arts journalists with certificates. That’s nice. However, the winners (in silver and gold ranks) are almost always reporting on the same square block of what is considered “art.” And almost always absent from this roll call are the music journalists – particularly those who write about popular acts in this country. Or those who didn’t go to Rhodes but shine a light on artists by giving readers/listeners/viewers something different to the tabloid snapshot that so many think is the only thing “entertainment” reporting is about. It’s great that the NAF Arts Journalism Awards are a thing. But I’ve learned that to be excluded does not mean you don’t exist. Quick sidetrack: when I was a baby writer, I saw one of my music journalist heroes at some party inside the basement of the Alex Theatre and went over to talk to him. I don’t even remember what we were discussing but I do recall him waving a hand of dismissal in my face. Oh, nevermind, he was saying, I forgot that you are very mainstream. I thought I’d misheard him. Me? Mainstream? How when I was writing about all the rappers and comedians who are now famous but definitely weren’t back then? The child in me never forgot that. But now-me doesn’t shy away from the mainstream tag. You can write about famous people and make it dope – even if you’re not given an award for it. So, it’s in that spirit that I present to you: the inaugural Mainstream As Fuck (MAF) Arts Journalism Awards. I don’t read/listen to/watch absolutely every arts feature/review etc that is in print or online (I’ll try next year) but the below are some of the things I remember reading and smiling or hearing and thinking: hm, that’s interesting. And because I’m a music girl, the MAF Arts Journalism Awards concentrate on music. All the winners contributed something to the art of music journalism. If I’ve left anything or anyone out – please let me know. But miss me with debates. The Read More …