Audio

Section Boyz's New Mixtape, 'Soundcheck,' Is Pure Raw Energy

Section Boyz, the South London crew, return with their new 19-track mixtape 'Soundcheck.'

UK rap has been knocking on mainstream doors for a few years now. The growing popularity of artists like Skepta and Giggs means that with some doors, if you have a unique voice and a story to tell, you don’t need the key anymore. Section Boyz have that voice.


After winning the 2015 MOBO award for best newcomers and selling out countless shows—including a surprise Drake appearance at one which caused a frenzy both at the event and on social media, the South London crew return with their new 19-track mixtapeSoundcheck.

Inch, Littlez, Sleeks, Knine, Swift and Deepee set the mood with “Step In.” Gritty and raw from the off, you can imagine the mosh pits forming to this track at a Section Boyz performance. You can hear the continual wheel-ups and crowd mayhem when the beat drops, hence the project’s title.

Section Boyz have tapped into youth sub-cultures and created their own lane and cult following independently. With a range of producers including RudeKid and Pinerobeats, Soundcheck is fast and punchy.

The sound is distinctly British as the group rap with supreme confidence, talking street tales from a London perspective with London slang riddled throughout—“how can a gal be peng and try walk past me?” These guys are unapologetically in your face and they’ve demonstrated skill by intertwining six separate voices to display great chemistry with a range of flows on this project.

‘I Like’ is an outstanding song produced by Heavytrackerz. It helps reiterate where Section Boyz are and where they want to be. They make music you might not fully understand unless you’re from the ends. Soundcheck is ends music. Reality rap. Representative of a lost generation and a perfect example that the UK isn’t all about afternoon tea and biscuits—and the world is finally listening.

Section Boyz know they don’t need endorsement from the industry elites. After the success of their anthem “Lock Arff” and fast tracking to this mixtape, it’s evident that Section know how to make a banger. “Mee Too” sounds horrific. When I say horrific I’m picturing tragic scenes on a dance floor when Section perform this one. I feel sorry for other acts that might perform on the same bill because they’ll get murdered. This is the second Heavytrackerz beat to cause an impressive stir.

The abundance of raw energy is manifested throughout the Soundcheck journey—“go to the meeting with my hood up”—as is their confidence, which borders on playful arrogance at times. The group went up to collect their MOBO award wearing tracksuits. They’re comfortable in their skin and determined to show the world they can be successful by just being themselves.

Consistency is challenging on a project with this many tracks. Especially with so many group members bringing a range of ideas to the table. Soundcheck struggles with variation during its second half and can sound slightly incoherent. However, “Inna” does its best to keep the listener awake as Section depict a ‘world is yours’ mentality with distinguished flow and delivery over an infectious Young Chencs production.

The most intriguing aspect of Section Boyz' journey is their almost cult status within their community. Too many artists are quick to ignore the level they were raised on and head straight to the top by creating music that doesn’t represent them or their people on that ground level.

This crew are confident enough to feel they can represent themselves the way they want whilst remaining grounded. As long as the mainstream continues to highlight very limited voices for the oppressed and struggling people of the UK, those people will always seek a resonating voice wherever they can.

Ever since Skepta mentioned them two years ago on Hot 97 with Peter Rosenberg, more and more people have been sitting up and taking note. Along with the colossal success of Stormzy’s debut album, we cannot ignore the fact that independent, voices for the voiceless in music are currently on a rapid locomotive that won’t stop, even when it reaches its destination.

Section Boyz have their tickets and they’re on board.

Culture

You Need to Listen to Luvvie Ajayi's New Podcast 'Rants and Randomness'

Listen to the first episode "Real G's Move in Silence Like Wakanda" now.

Honestly, who better to host a podcast, than our favorite Nigerian social critic Luvvie Ajayi?

The blogger and media personality's new podcast Rants and Randomness, is already garnering pretty stellar reactions from listeners—It currently boasts a 5 star customer rating on iTunes. All of this is unsurprising given her knack for humor and sharp wit that we've enjoyed over the years through her popular blog Awesomely Luvvie.

In her very first episode, titled Real G's Move in Silence Like Wakanda, Luvvie rants about Valentine's Day extraness—which is a very real thing, interviews Eunique Jones Gibson, the photographer behind campaigns like "Because of them We can" and "I AM Trayvon Martin," and shares her thoughts on Black Panther—and yes, she was just as blown away as the rest of us.

She gives a full 15 minute review on the podcast, but you can read part of her review via this snippet from her blog:

My heart is full by the fact that this film feels like life-affirming in the way that cannot be taken back and it's long overdue. And the success of Black Panther should mean that more of these stories will be written and produced and distributed on a grand scale. I say SHOULD, because, well. Shit happens and whiteness loves to do dumb shit like ignore logic, all in the name of racism. More of these stories of Blackness, in all its forms, need to be shared to the world and the possibilities are endless. If nothing else Black Panther should show that our stories are profitable, amazing and necessary. We need more of them all the time in all forms. They won't all look like Black Panther, which is good. They need to be different but they need to exist.

So shoutout to Ryan Coogler and the cast who KILLED IT. And allowed us to come together in joy. I'm officially claiming citizenship of Wakanda.

We feel you, girl. Wakanda forever.

Read the full review via her blog. For more, listen and subscribe to Rants and Randomness via iTunes.

Video: OkayAfrica's 'Black Panther' Celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music

OkayAfrica partnered with Brooklyn Academy of Music and D'ussé for an advanced screening, followed by an exclusive Q&A with Ryan Coogler and an epic afterparty.

Ahead of Black Panther's epic release last week, OkayAfrica and Okayplayer hosted an advanced screening and Q+A between director Ryan Coogler and CEO Abiola Oke, followed by our #OkayWakanda afterparty at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

It was a jam-packed event filled with beautiful black folks, coming together to celebrate the film of the year. The Wakandan pride was strong and what's even better is that we caught all the action on camera.

We got a chance to speak with our incredibly dressed attendees live from the red carpet and after party about what the film means to them and why they came out to support it.

Check out all the action from the event and after party in the video below.


Politics

We Did It: Three Years of #FeesMustFall Finally Bears Fruit

This year's South African budget shows that struggle can make things better.

Yesterday, South African Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, presented the long-awaited 2018 budget speech. While he was heavily criticised for increasing VAT and the fuel levy, which will heavily impact the poor, students celebrated the R57 billion that will finally be set aside to fund their studies in their entirety.

It was 2015 and I was at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, along with thousands of students from all over the country, waiting to be addressed by former President Jacob Zuma about our demands for a 0% increase in fees for the following year. We were capable students, worthy of being at universities but we were also black and lacking the money to access institutions which were fast becoming financially exclusive. While our core demand was eventually met, we knew it wasn't a complete victory—what about the fees for the following year and the year after that? I still remember how days after that epic march, my ears were still ringing with the phantom sounds of struggle songs and the whizzing of rubber bullets. I don't know if South Africa or the world will ever truly know how that fight scarred so many of us.

In the years that followed, we watched as the government (which claimed it had no money to allocate to tertiary education) squander state resources time and time again. We protested relentlessly; fiercely. We were shot at by police, our campuses looked like war-zones and we wondered whether we would attain the degrees upon which our families hopes rested so heavily.

After Jacob Zuma's resignation a few days ago, I wrote about how the ANC would embark on a journey of some serious ass-kissing in the run-up to the general elections in 2019. I warned Fees Must Fall activists that if ever there were a more opportune time to act, that it was most certainly now. R57 billion rand has been allocated for the funding of tertiary education for students whose household incomes are less than or equal to R350 000 per annum. This will assist not only the poor black working class but the black "missing middle" as well. The entire duration of their degrees will be funded with the added promise of supporting students in terms of food, transport and accommodation costs, all key to making this announcement a full victory and not just a partial one.

Now does this magically solve all our problems as black students? Does it do away with the rampant inequality prevalent on all our university campuses? No, it does not. But what it is, is a step in a very hopeful direction. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this R57 billion will actually serve its purpose and not be misappropriated like so many of our state funds in the past. However, our acting President Cyril Ramaphosa, is looking to make a big splash. He's looking to garner not only our support but our lasting support, so it would stand him in good stead if he ensures his government keeps their word. He has seen (or at least read about) the destruction, the chaos, the physical and psychological damage to our young members of society following numerous Fees Must Fall protests and clashes with the police.

I will never forget that day at the Union Buildings when the police started throwing stun grenades at us and unleashing a barrage of bullets. I will never forget how a young male student stumbled towards my friend and I, his face completely drenched in blood. I will never forget how my friend and I ran out of sheer, naked fear, blindly into the busy streets of the Pretoria CBD and eventually hid ourselves behind a nearby bus stop. I was not as active on the frontlines as so many other students were, not in the least, so I can only begin to imagine the kind of trauma they still have to wrestle with till this day.

The #NationalShutDown in Cape Town on Wednesday, October 21 2015. Photo by Imraan Christian

That is why this announcement, as much as it was a string of words on a piece of paper for a lot of people, meant so much more to the rest of us. It's a sigh of relief for many black students. It means a glimmer of hope for so many black families. It's a chance to dream and to do so without inhibition. This is all we've been fighting for and it feels so damn good to allow ourselves, even for just a moment, to bask in the light that seemed so elusive back then.

Our fallen comrade Solomon Mahlangu, the young man we sang about in our struggle songs, once said that his blood would nourish the tree that would bear the fruits of freedom. He told us to continue the fight. And so to all my comrades, amandla!

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