By Dylan Aiston
The University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR) is part of Makhanda and with that, the cultures of the university and town often and intertwine - especially when it comes to music. Here are some students at USKAR who are not only making noise in the university, but in the town and beyond as well.
Lovemore Phiri, otherwise known as Black Madonna, is an aspiring transgender hip-hop artist at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR). She aims to break stigmas and challenge your view on what hip-hop is all about.
Phiri aims to do this by telling her truth. She takes her identity and isn’t afraid to put it at the forefront of her music. “I mostly focus on the intersectionality of being trans, being black, and coming from a middle class family.”
Phiri goes on to talk about the lack of a voice a transgender individual has in a violent society. She aims to combat this by talking about her queerness and sexuality in order to create a safe environment for other queer, transgender rappers. She does not want them to be shocked by the environment they find themselves in.
Phiri does not want to be defined by the current stigma of women in hip-hop. Being labelled as a female rapper is something she feels unnecessary: “You wouldn’t put those tags on male rappers, you would just call them a rapper”, she says.
Despite her comments on society, Phiri feels that our generation is the most progressive one yet. She finds beauty in how we are moving forward as a nation.
Masi Msayi, or Afrikan Drums, is another up-and-coming house producer who is inspired by culture and wants to inspire others.
“Music can change the world,” says Msayi, already indicating his connection towards the lifestyle of the music in South Africa. He’s from Motherwell, a township in Port Elizabeth, where music surrounded him. At bars, in taverns, young people in the street with speakers… where-ever you go, it’s impossible to escape music.
Msayi produces a mix of deep house and tribal house to create something with a uniquely South African flavour. He draws inspiration from the culture around him, finding new ways to change and reinvent his style. “This is more than a hobby; I live the music”, he says.
Another unique element Msayi brings to the table is his marketing style. He finds funny videos online and puts his track in the background. When someone asks for the name of the song, he gives them a link. It’s working so far, with one of his videos amassing over 2 million plays.
You can find Black Madonna on SoundCloud, she has just released a new single titled ‘Wine and Dine’ and is working on an upcoming album.
You can find Msayi on SoundCloud under Afrikan Drums. His discography goes back years, so if you enjoy his music there’s going to be a lot more where that came from.