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Cape Town's Busiest MC: Interview With Youngsta + Freeze Time [Mixtape]

Cape Town hip-hop from Youngsta on his latest mixtape Freeze Time + interview with Youngsta, Arsenic, & Bonzaya Street Tyrant.


Having produced 24 mixtapes in the past 2 years, opening with a killer freestyle for Lil Wayne’s I AM MUSIC Tour and crowned "King of Street Rap" in 2011, Riyadh “Youngsta” Roberts has been hard at work making sure his name stays unforgotten as an advocate for Cape Town. To date he could very well be South Africa’s busiest MC.

His (count 'em) 25th mixtape Freeze Time, dropped July 10th alongside the redesign of his website, deals out genre-bending collaborations with the unlikeliest of local and international producers including Audiophile 021, Ill Gates, Codax, Black Vulcanite, and DJ Hamma.

Youngsta’s pending project entitled DNA combines tried and trusted production methods with innovative and fresh flavours of the now. For now we chat exclusively with Youngsta alongside co-conspirator and long-time lyricist Bonzaya Street Tyrant and Metalloid Lab producer/sound engineer Gary ‘Arsenic’ Erfort about the first release off the DNA project.

*Youngsta, Bonzaya and Arsenic (left to right) image by Sims Phakisi

Shiba for OKA: In comparison, the Cape Town hip-hop scene hasn’t quite reached the status it has in Johannesburg as a business. What do you have to say about attitudes of Cape Town rappers and the direction you want to take hip-hop in CT as a sound engineer and beatmaker, especially with your experience in the industry?

Arsenic: I became actively involved in hip-hop during 2004, and Writer’s Block being formed in 2005 by X (Mingus). The two of us were high school friends and always wanted to be involved in hip-hop after high school. The scene back then was almost non-existent to the average onlooker but it was rich with a number of young talents that would flock to Town for any open mics or parties happening that played great hip-hop classics. The more popular spots in Town were all playing the stuff we weren’t getting down to. There was no industry, there were no dedicated promoters, no corporate sponsorships etc, the artists relied on themselves to do all the running around planning events, printing flyers and everything that came with it, so parties came and went. So as you can imagine the parties had no fancy frills, no VIP — it was purely about good music. Gigs were really a place to connect and build with other artists. The energy was there back then and people were hungry but there was no business side to it to take them further, so the energy disappeared for a while. Now that hunger is back, and there are new MCs who are pushing and honing their skills but also stepping up on the business side to make sure people’s efforts don’t go to waste. They just want to be the best.

Youngsta: What you often experience out here is the Cape Town scene tends to recycle guys. One day they’re here and the next day they’re gone. But I’m not going anywhere. What I’m trying to do is put my stamp on Cape Town — I rap with an accent and I rap about my experiences. Everything in my Cape Town life gets documented through the pen and paper. The music I listen to and the life I live go hand in hand.

OKA: So give us the grit on this first record off DNA...

Youngsta: The song is called "Trials and Tribulations," which features me as the naive young boy who thinks he knows everything, asking my older brother, Bonzaya for advice. So in this track I actually take the backseat and humble myself to learn from Bonzaya who drops some knowledge.

Bonzaya: You know you can’t go wrong with Arsenic on the beat. There’s always something exciting and challenging. For me it’s built me up as an artist spending time with him. Once we heard the beat we knew exactly what we wanted to do with it. We wanted to do what is very rarely done nowadays which is storytelling. In order to do this track and make it coherent we felt like we needed to write it together, literally bar for bar. Once you hear the track you’ll hear how in sync we are as well.

Arsenic: It was interesting to watch during the session. It was like a conversation they were having through the rhyme and that’s exactly what it needed to be.

OKA: Where do you see the Cape Town hip-hop scene going?

Bonzaya: From here on I see the scene growing but with that same fire people used to have. It’s also nice to see cats who’ve been at it longer than I have still bearing that torch for the culture, with some new younger cats at it too. You know what they say: “you don’t stop playing because you got old; you get old because you stopped playing.”

Grab a copy of Youngsta's latest Freeze Time below and keep an eye out for DNA via Metalloid Lab Productions.

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Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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