Arts + Culture

Ralph Ziman's Beaded AK-47s In 'Ghosts'

Ralph Ziman exhibits beaded replica AK-47s in his new solo show "Ghosts" at C.A.V.E gallery, LA.

The debut exhibition (at least to our knowledge) from South African artist and filmmaker Ralph Ziman recently caught our eyes. Best known for his Venice murals and music video work with the likes of Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson, Johannesburg-born, Venice-based Ziman spent six months collaborating with Zimbabwean vendors in Joburg to create 200+ Shona-beaded replica AK-47s. The series of photos capture street vendors posing with the stunningly decorated weaponry. Ziman opened up about the impetus behind the project, which appeared initially as a series of murals in Venice:


"Part of an extensive series of works, this mural deals with the international arms trade and Africa: a trade that for the most part only goes in one direction. Into Africa. I had six Zimbabwean artists use traditional African beads and wire to manufacture several hundred replica bead/guns like AK-47s, as well as several replica bead/general purpose machine guns (GPMGs), along with the ammunition.

In response to the guns sent into that culture, the mural represents an aesthetic, anti-lethal cultural response, a visual export out of Africa. And the bead/guns themselves, manufactured in Africa, are currently being shipped to the USA and Europe. This bead/arms project provided six months full time work for half a dozen craftsman who got well deserved break from making wire animals for tourists. The completed bead/guns were the subject of a photo-shoot in crime ridden downtown Johannesburg. The subjects were the artists who made the guns, several construction workers who happened to witness the shoot, and a member of the South African Police Services who just wanted his picture taken."

Though some have interpreted Ziman's photo series as a critique of "Africa's dominant gun culture," it's important to keep the international nature of the arms trade in mind. In bringing his exhibit to the US, "the world's biggest arms exporter," Ziman goes some way to redirecting the one directional flow of the arms trade, inviting viewers to consider the original source of the guns on display. The exhibit features sculptures, installations and photos of the handmade guns. Ghosts is on display at L.A.'s C.A.V.E. Gallery Feb. 8th through March 2nd.

"SA Rappers Out Here Killing Y'all," M.I Abaga On Nigerian Rappers

M.I has fueled a debate about the state Nigerian hip-hop with his latest song, "You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Life."

Nigerian star M.I Abaga is back with a punch and taking aim at all of his fellow Nigerian rappers.

The track—which sees M.I. drop lines like "none of you rappers is real enough... that's why these fans are not feeling ya'll," "SA rappers out here killing ya,ll," and "rappers are singing now just to get popular, yuck"—has sparked a debate across social media on the current state of Nigerian hip-hop.

There's been some calling out M.I for not supporting young Nigerian rappers like big rappers do in South Africa. These years have seen the likes of Cassper Nyovest and other big SA stars supporting younger talent.

Others, however, have taken up the challenge and started responding to M.I's track over the "Fix Up Your Life" instrumental. M.I's been retweeting the responses and, in a way, the track's been getting a lot of the young rappers M.I calls out some more attention.

M.I and his label Chocolate City have also been in the news lately over suing Nas for not delivering a good verse.

What do you think? Is Nigerian hip-hop in decline?

See some choice tweets below.

Video: Looking at the Roots of IsiPantsula Culture Through Some of Its Leading Voices

This new video shows us why South African Pantsula is much more than just a dance move.

Pantsula is more than just a dance, it's a cultural movement and it's being revived through enthusiastic South African youth.

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In Photos: Migos' Culture Tour in Johannesburg

ATL trio Migos' Culture Tour had two South African stops–in Durban on Friday and Johannesburg on Saturday.

We attended the Joburg leg of the tour, and the group didn't disappoint, although the event itself was unacceptably disorganized. South African rappers Riky Rick and Nasty C gave great performances, especially the latter.

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