News Brief

The Former Editor of South Africa's Longest Running Hip-Hop Magazine Shares His Story

Fred Mercury has released a new autobiographical documentary about his time at Hype magazine, one of the most important publications in the history of South African hip-hop.

Fred Kayembe, known as Fred Mercury in the streets, is a staunch supporter of hip-hop from South Africa. He's mostly known for his role as former editor of South Africa's longest running hip-hop magazine, Hype.

Last week, he released an autobiographical documentary, titled Keys Open Doors, in which he chronicles his life in hip-hop. He traces his life—from being born in Kinshasa, growing up in South Africa, learning English, playing basketball in school, and eventually becoming editor of one of the most important publications in the history of South African hip-hop.

He speaks fondly about the lessons he learned from listening to the likes of Eminem, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z, among others.

There's footage of him revisiting his high school, working behind the scenes and attending and hosting events. The documentary is the introduction to a series called #thinkingoutloud, in which Fred collaborates with the likes of Muzi, Shane Eagle, Astryd Brown, Shooter Khumz, Sachin Aurakeasamy, Mashayabhuque KaMamba and Spaceboy P, among others.

#thinkingouloud is a virtual exhibition comprising of a collection of works across various mediums including, the documentay, a short film, an audio presentation, a photography capsule and audio presentation, which are all curated Fred.

"Like everyone else," says Fred on the series, "I process an overwhelming amount of information from every imaginable source I interact with on a daily basis. What tends to happen is, overtime, my brain will start to short circuit from all the incomplete thoughts, much like having too many tabs open on your computer starts to affect its efficiency. This is me attempting to close some of those tabs."

You can watch the documentary below, and check out the rest of the content from #thinkingoutloud on this Tumblr page.

Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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