Hip hop shake-up

Pictures: RONALD BREWERS

After growing tired of seeing the same faces at every hip hop performance, a Kraaifontein couple decided to launch a monthly event in Stikland to shake up the old order and give up-and-coming artists a chance to shine.

Linley and Genevieve Heynes started working on the concept in 2014, and this year saw the launch of their brainchild: Northern Lights Hip Hop.

Linley, better known as Linkris The Genius, of Katalis Productions, said the hip hop event was about bringing diversity back into the hip hop industry regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or religion as long as it’s “dope” and meaningful.

Genevieve said they had become frustrated by seeing the same artists and personalities being booked over and over again.

“Hip hop, once a form of raw expression and a creative outlet for youth, now became dominated by pop-culture with a commercial agenda, leaving hard-working artists hung out to dry, simply because they did not fit a certain look or they did not have enough social-media followers or they did not belong to the correct ‘social club’,” she said.

Northern Lights Chapter 5: The “break-up” paartie took place on Friday December 1 with artists such as Mono Joe, Klein Fortuin en Siep performing.

“The concept of the event was also spawned by the fact that there are no decent hip hop events happening in the northern suburbs, and we, as Katalis Productions, saw the gap in the market and decided to just do it,” said Linkris.

The monthly event, at Stikland Driving Range, gives artists from all over the province a chance to show what they can do.

Artists who have performed include Dope Saint Jude, Knine Die Hond, Olla the Ou, Klein Fortuin, Hailo, Penbenders, Abadon Horseman, Mono Joe and Slang ZA, with Linkris The Genius as host.

“We’re just happy to be blessed to be in this position, to be able to create a hub where big names like Dope Saint Jude, Early B, DJ Ready D and more can share a stage with artists who are perhaps ‘lesser known’ but equally skilled and equally hard working. Because that is what Northern Lights Hip Hop and Katalis Productions are all about,” said Linkris. “We want to create a positive ecosystem where art can flourish and where positive networks can grow.”

Genevieve said a lack of radio play was one of the biggest challenges artists faced.

“A lot of opportunities are monopolised, for example, all the big blogs and tastemaker outlets (people with influence) will only promote a handful of artists; usually those artists will be their buddies.”

She said the same was true when it came to events.

“If you look at the statistics, you will be led to think that Cape Town only has three great hip hop artists. The truth is, there are plenty. And we are proving it on a consistent basis with our event.

“If more artists get the same promo-push that a certain select few are receiving then the people will be left with options. The people will then begin to realise how great the kids from our neighbourhoods are with their own unique styles,” said Genevieve.

Mitchell’s Plain artist Abadon Horseman said hip hop was diverse and he took part in Northern Lights to meet other artists.

“Hip hop is bigger than hip hop – it’s life. Hip hop is life to me,” he said.

Artist Hailo (Hailey Muller), who performed at a previous Northern Lights event, said it was a great way for local artists to get exposure and stage time, for their music to be played and for fans to become familiar with them.

“There is a lot of up-and-coming artists who are not getting the recognition, and this platform gives them the recognition they rightfully reserve.”

Northern Lights Chapter 6 will take place at the end of January at Stikland Driving Range.