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Boyzn Bucks: Johannesburg's Street Culture Empire

We got to know the nine prolific creatives who make up Johannesburg's street culture empire, Boyzn Bucks.


Photo: Anthony Bila

At the forefront of South Africa's street culture renaissance is a collective of rappers, producers, DJs, designers, sneaker connoisseurs and overall creative gurus who together form Boyzn Bucks. The group was loosely conceived by nine likeminded childhood friends who, though originally hailing from different parts of the country, converged in Johannesburg and joined forces to become the country's reigning street culture empire. Their aim, they say, is to export South African culture abroad and inspire a younger generation back home. With music at their starting point– Okmalumkoolkat and Riky Rick have both topped our year-end lists– the group is fast expanding its dominance into the realms of style, art, and even extreme sports. Okayafrica enlisted Joburg-based photographer Anthony Bila (The Expressionist) to shoot a series of portraits of the friends in and around Johannesburg, Randburg and Tembisa. In the following pages, we get to know the nine prolific creatives who make up Boyzn Bucks.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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