Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Kwesta.

BMW South Africa Responds to Using Kwesta’s Song Without Permission on Latest Advert

BMW has responded to Kwesta three days after he called out the German car company for their latest advert that used his song without his permission.

Update 09/25: BMW South Africa has finally responded after callously releasing an advert using Kwesta's song without formal permission from the hip-hop star. This response follows public outcry after Kwesta shared the news on Twitter and indicated that he had consulted with his lawyers with regards to copyright infringement. Fans and followers of Twitter subsequently joined Kwesta in slamming BMW.

The German car company recently responded with a tepid apology stating that they "celebrate" the "legacy" of the song and are thus in communication with the artist's team. The details of how the company plans on correcting the use of the song in their advert are yet to be revealed.

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Kwesta has called out BMW South Africa for blatantly using his song without his permission and not crediting him. In a new advert promoting the new limited edition 330iS, BMW South Africa tapped into the BMW 3 Series' heritage in South Africa by using Kwesta's mega hit "Spirit". According to the artist, he wasn't contacted about the use of his song. The hip-hop super star took to Twitter to slam the German automobile manufacturer for their ad.

Kwesta released the Wale-assisted song in 2017, and it instantly became a hit in South Africa. Currently sitting at 6.5 million views on YouTube and close to 2 million streams on Spotify, "Spirit" is one of the biggest South African hip-hop songs of all time. The song celebrates township living especially for boys who grew up idolising older men and the cars they drove.

The second generation of the BMW compact sedan, the 325iS (E30) popularly known as a Gusheshe, has a cultural significance dating back to a golden era in SA townships (especially Soweto) post-apartheid. A time when, kwaito, a homebred music genre, was booming and BMW models (especially the Gusheshe which was produced between 1982 and 1994) featured in the music videos of the time, a trend which continues to this day. "Spirit" references kwaito and samples the song "These Tears" by the house music duo Spiritchaser.

For their ad, BMW remade "Spirit" using the same sample and similar drum pattern (needless to say the song isn't that great) and also lifted the song's music video which portrays township life. The "Spirit" music video captures quintessential Soweto activities, with BMW 325is spinning and also pays homage to the successful "grootman", a term given to older men society looks up to.

The music video was not only a hit because it featured Wale in Soweto, but because it organically depicted the childhood story of every Sowetan if not every South African.



The scandal has South Africa riled up because BMW has cultural significance, and their failure to acknowledge Kwesta's song is just disappointing. When brands get it wrong, South Africans, especially on Twitter, always call them to order. Recently, the liquor brand Savanna was called out for using "syavana", a term popularised by popular comedian Farieda Metsileng (@pharoahfi) and neither crediting nor inviting her to appear on the ad. After complaints on Twitter, the brand released another ad in which Metsileng appears. BMW has not responded to Kwesta.

Watch the BMW advert and "Spirit" music video video below and judge for yourself.

Kwesta - Spirit ft. Wale www.youtube.com

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Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Woolmark International Pty Ltd

Mmuso Maxwell Designers on Winning the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation

We met up with Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko, the duo behind South African brand Mmuso Maxwell. We spoke about their upbringing, winning the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, and more.

After a two year internship with veteran South African designer David Tlale, Mmuso Maxwell was born. The brand, founded by the young duo Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko, has since established a name for themselves in the African fashion industry. With successful works with A-list artists like Beyoncé — on her Black is King album — they continue to set the bar on what it means to be a successful emerging designer brand.

The duo first started to make noise in 2017, when they won the South Africa’s Fashion Week’s Sunglass Hut New Talent Search. Two years later, they came second at the 30 Under 30: The New Stars Arise Fashion Show competition held in Lagos, Nigeria. The duo walked home with $50,000, helping them establish their presence on a global landscape.

Last month, Potsane and Boko won the biggest award of their career: beating out 200 designers throughout the world, they took home the The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, after presenting a Merino wool collection for their Autumn/Winter 2022 line.

After their big win, OkayAfrica was able to meet up with the duo and chat about their upbringing, winning the Lagerfeld Award, and more.

How would you describe your Mmuso Maxwell brand?

Maxwell Boko: I think that the perfect description of our brand is that it is inspired by African heritage, but, the most important part is that it is mixed with contemporary culture. It’s basically our point of view of our heritage. We’re modern young people who are living with technology and science, and are influenced by those things. So even if it’s still our African heritage, it’s still our own interpretation.

Mmuso Potsane: Our brand is a modern interpretation of who an African woman is. Our brand sees itself as a global brand, and we do not want to limit it to look like an ordinary African brand, but it is positioned to be like a global brand, while maintaining our African roots, interpretations and experiences.

How did the collaboration between the both of you start?

Potsane: We met during the internship from 2015-2017. At the end of the internship, we decided to bring our pieces together to make one collection because we had similar aesthetics. From there, we just decided to continue onwards as a brand.

That’s interesting. You know, the fashion industry can most times be more competition than collaboration. How are you navigating the times you might have contrasting ideas?

Boko: I think that the reason why we joined forces together is because we had similar tastes in general. What has worked for us over the five years is that we’re not dramatic about our approach to things. It’s not “this or nothing." We’re always open to each other's critiques. We also do not question our individual strengths at all.

Potsane: Yeah, we’ve sort of found a way to agree to disagree. We have somehow found a way to come together to have one vision and objection. So for us, if any of us feels strongly about something, we just give it a chance to see how it plays out. If it doesn’t, we find a way to navigate it.

Mmuso Maxwell designers with Saul Nash

Saul Nash, winner of the International Woolmark Prize, and Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko of Mmuso Maxwell, winners of the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, celebrate with models wearing their designs.

Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Woolmark International Pty Ltd

How about winning the Woolmark Karl Lagerfeld Innovation Award? How did that happen?

Boko: I mean, we applied, even though I said to Mmuso that Woolmark is something that’ll happen to us, maybe two, three years down the line, and that’s because it’s generally for established designers. I always figured that it’ll happen at a later date for us. So when they reached us to inform us that we were finalists, I thought, “that’s crazy.”

When I saw the other finalists, I thought that there was no chance to win; But as we progressed in the program, I saw why it was the right time for us. It helped us as a brand in terms of making our products. The eight months were very challenging, but the thing that I enjoyed the most was working with local artisans. I think that it’s even one of the reasons we won.

And just on the side, I think it’s very hard for us to see from inside how much of a big deal winning the award is. It’s always our loyal people who help us see and understand it.

How has winning this prize influenced your brand? I mean, how important do you think platforms like this are?

Potsane: I think it’s important because it allows you access to spaces in the industry that are very out of reach for a lot of African brands. It influences and helps us to think more/differently, and just on that level, play by the rules. You’re no longer thinking locally, but internationally. It’s made us more serious about our business and how to run it. People take your work more seriously, so that makes you take it more seriously too.

In terms of funding, it’s something that’s been a struggle. I mean, as a designer, you have to showcase your work and that requires a lot of money for stuff like shows, showrooms, and so on. With the help that we’re getting from the people like Birimian — some sort of investment group for African brands — it helps you ease the stress this induces.

And what are some of the challenges you’ve faced during this? Are there ways you’re now navigating it?

Boko: When we started our brand, there was no initial capital for us to start our brand. But we got a little support, and that made our next challenge be sustaining our coming collections; but recently, our major challenge has been fabric sourcing and production. There are no facilities to produce the quality we aspire to.

Potsane: To navigate these challenges, we really just go with it one step at a time, and also speak with those who can assist with things like this, such as Birimian. In terms of production, we have to come to a compromise to ensure getting the quality we want.

You're a sustainable brand. What are some of the practices you’re doing that makes it sustainable?

Potsane: We utilize local crafts and local artisans. It’s something we’ve always been passionate about since we started our brand. We use homegrown yarns for production, and working with artisans makes us follow the route of slow fashion.

Boko: We’ve always had an affinity for natural fibers since we started. As an African creative, you’re inherently sustainable because we’re not prone to waste. It’s not something we can afford. When we buy fabrics, we buy exactly what we need, and all the things we’ve done so far have been in pre-orders. We do not produce with hopes that someone will buy what we’ve made. All pieces go to our clients.

Are there creatives that inspire the work that you do?

Potsane: The people that inspire our brand, we already currently work with. So people like Tatenda Chidora, a photographer. We also love Tony Gum. She’s an amazing artist. Same as Chloe Andrea and Daniel Obasi. We totally love these people, and are highly inspired by them.

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Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MRC)

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