Photo courtesy of Karabo Poppy.

In Conversation with Karabo Poppy, the First South African Artist to Collaborate with Nike

The talented illustrator and street artist produced three unique designs for Nike's iconic Air Force 1 Low sneaker collection.

Karabo Poppy is an award-winning South African illustrator, graphic designer and street artist. The majority of her work has been inspired by signature geometric patterns and vibrant African aesthetics.

Recently, she became the first ever South African artist to collaborate with Nike on their iconic Air Force 1 Low sneaker collection. Nike By You, which offers sneakerheads the opportunity to get some dope custom-made sneakers, teamed up with Karabo Poppy to design three unique sneakers whose aesthetic is distinctly African. Design-wise, the sneakers go where Nike itself has never gone and it's exactly what gives them a striking quality—they're hard to miss.

In a matter of days, the sneaker collection had completely sold out globally, yet another feat for a South African artist. And so naturally, we caught up with Karabo Poppy to talk about the success of her sneaker collaboration, what it feels like making history within sneaker culture and some of the biggest lessons she's learnt in the process.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You're the first South African to collaborate with Nike on their iconic Air Force 1 Low sneaker. How does that "first" feel?

Wow. I think it's been a little bit of a while because it's been a project we've been working on since January. But even to this day, it still doesn't feel real at all.

I feel really honored to be able to work with the brand that's been a part of my visual and inspirational aesthetic. Since I was a teenager, I always wanted Air Force 1s and have been wearing them from the time that I was about 14 or 15. It's an honor to be able to tell my story on something that's been a part of my aesthetic and culture for so many years.

Would you term this a "surprise collaboration", or were you always making moves in the background to secure the opportunity to work with Nike?

It's a little bit of both. I do believe in working extremely hard and taking calculated risks while staying true to my individuality, the thing that would open up doors. I didn't think this would happen though. I'd always wanted my illustration and street art in graphic design to open doors, but I never thought it would open this kind of a door.

Nike | All For 1: Karabo Poppy - Johannesburgwww.youtube.com

Was there any added pressure to deliver as an artist who was now being seen to effectively represent all of South African creativity?

Yeah, there was extreme pressure. I think, with this specific project, it was also two-fold because you had pressure from sneaker culture as a whole and then specifically, the sneaker culture in Johannesburg while also trying to make a shoe that is appealing globally. The pressure to be relevant and appealing to a very, very large market was the first one.

The second pressure was being able to tell an authentic story because that's where my inspiration comes from.

"I wanted to represent Africans, especially South Africans, extremely well to a global audience."

And then lastly, there was the pressure of working on a canvas I've never worked on before. I've never designed a shoe. Putting all of that together on a new canvas, making it relevant globally and then also representing it authentically came with extreme pressure.

Going in, did you already know what each sneaker would look like, or was it a process that unfolded itself as you went along?

As soon as I started, I knew that I had wanted to do something that Nike hadn't done before—carrying on the concept of something new and something innovative. You'll notice with every sneaker, there's an element that Nike hasn't done before. So all three sneakers have embroidery. On one, it is a raised embroidery. On the other, embroidery mixed with 3D printing. On the third, are patches of embroidery that actually cover the Nike swoosh.

I knew that I had wanted to do something that Nike hadn't done before, but I didn't necessarily know how I wanted to have that exist on the shoe. I first designed the shoe digitally, and then worked with the team to see how we could bring in a new way of applying the illustration to the shoe.

Was there anything that specifically inspired the design for each sneaker?

All three sneakers kind of have their own theme. When I was conceptualizing how I'd be designing the sneakers, I was thinking about tagging the current contemporary African aesthetic that we have. Africa is extremely broad, but I feel like there are common threads that we can find throughout the continent, and the first one being the very spiritual relationship with hair. But also, throughout the years, we've seen hair also being tied to politics. So, the first concept was paying homage to that common thread of an African's relationship with hair.

The concept for the second shoe was kind of talking about how all past roads lead to building something this new. So how history has allowed the creatives of today to be able to push boundaries and even break boundaries. Living in Africa and having parents that were very restricted to what they could do for a living, I needed to pay homage to all the work from previous generations that allowed me to be able to do what I want to do and do it well.

Then, the third shoe is about me speaking towards all African creative potential, both living on the continent and part of the African diaspora as well. It's about saying there's an unbridled potential that we still have yet to discover.

Photo courtesy of Karabo Poppy.

Photo courtesy of Karabo Poppy.

Photo courtesy of Karabo Poppy.

Which would you say is your favorite out of the three sneakers?

My friend, no! I have no idea. I really love them all the same. They're all so extremely different. It's very tough choosing just one.

How do you think the international community has received your sneaker designs?

From the feedback that I've been receiving over social media and from what the Nike team has told me, it's really great seeing how globally receptive the designs work. We sold out in four days which really shows how committed people were to the design. The sneakers sold out the fastest in South Africa, of course.

"In South Africa, they sold out in an hour."

And then, we had Japan sell the most overall. Spain had also sold out in three hours. We've got Europe. We've got Asia. We've got Africa. And I think those are really broad and extremely different markets. But, we've seen it do well in very different markets as well. So, I think it's been received well and that's really exciting. It makes me really happy.

What would you say was the biggest challenge and lesson of this collaboration?

I think the biggest challenge came from putting pressure on myself to be able to represent the African aesthetic and doing so on a new canvas. It was a very exciting challenge. I did have a very broad and great understanding of sneaker culture and sneakers, and a great understanding of illustration as well. So, it was very natural to marry the two. But, working on something new is always challenging.

I learned a few tricks of the trade when it comes to sneaker design. I actually got to know what goes into the back end of the hundreds of sneakers that I own. It was really interesting seeing how sneakers start off as a flat surface and how they get pulled from a flat design. Also learning about the intricacies that go into sneaker design and broadly, industrial design—something that I would want to pursue as well in the future.

The second lesson that I learned was about stepping out of your comfort zone and being experimental with your designs. I think that will always be met with great excitement, and people are really open to seeing others doing something new.

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Photo By Sean Zanni:Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Trevor Noah To Host Prime Video's First South African Show

Trevor Noah is teaming up with Prime Video to Release the a new South African Show Called ‘LOL: Last One Laughing.'

Trevor Noah is taking his comedic chops to Prime Video with LOL: Last One Laughing, a six-episode stand-up comedy competition series that will be released in 2024.

Noah will be hosting the show, which will feature 10 South African comedians competing to see who can keep a straight face the longest while also trying to make their opponent laugh. The comedians will be given a list of challenges and scenarios in which they must maintain a stoic expression. Each episode will end with the "Last One Laughing" taking home a cash prize of 1 million Rand. LOL: Last One Laughing will be Prime Video’s first South African Original. And with Noah’s sharp wit and comedic acumen at the helm, it will be interesting to see LOL: Last One Laughing come to life in South Africa.

In a statement released to Variety, Noah said:

“I’m excited to be back home to host Prime Video’s first South African Original, LOL: Last One Laughing, and to have a chance to connect with my home audience... I am equally delighted for the opportunity to be working alongside my fellow home-grown comedy stars on a show that not only entertains but gives back to the South African production and charity communities.”

Ned Mitchell, head of Africa and Middle East Originals at Amazon also spoke highly of the upcoming show.

“Comedy, in all its forms, shines among South Africa’s most valuable treasures. Together with an A-list roster of this country’s incredible home-grown comedic talent competing for a great charitable cause,” Mitchell said. “Trevor and Prime Video are demonstrating the depth of our shared ambition to invest and elevate the very best of South Africa for audiences locally and around the world.”
Photo Credit: Amazon

Watch the Trailer for 'Gangs of Lagos,' Amazon's First African Movie

Amazon's Gangs of Lagos will premiere on April 7th.

Nollywood is coming to Prime Video.

On Monday, the conglomerate announced that it would be releasing Gangs of Lagos, its first original African movie, on April 7th. The project, which is directed by renowned filmmaker Jáde Osiberu, features Nigerian stars like Tobi Bakare, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Chike Osebuka, Chioma Chukwuka, and Iyabo Ojo.

The movie will follow the lives of a group of friends as they navigate the bustling streets of Lagos.

In a press release, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, head of Nigerian Originals at Prime Video, described the movie as a story that highlights the importance of friendship and family.

"Gangs of Lagos is a unique story about family and friendship, against the action-packed backdrop and striking set pieces of the streets of Lagos,” Mba-Uzoukwu said. “As the first Nigerian Original to launch on Prime Video, Gangs of Lagos sets the tone and standard, with the authentically Nigerian storyline in a genre that is so popular around the globe, making it a movie for our audiences at home and abroad.”

Gangs of Lagos - Official Teaser | Prime Video Naijawww.youtube.com

Located on the country's southwest coast, Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria. Over the years, the vibrant city has become known for its bustling economy, eclectic culture, and rich history. The crime drama promises to showcase the nitty gritty rumble and tumble of Lagos, as well as the authentic elements that make it one of the most renowned cities in the world.

Ned Mitchell, head of African and Middle East Originals, Prime Video said that with the roll out, Prime Video was hoping to connect with original voices.

“At Prime Video, we are looking to work with original voices to create spectacular stories and events that audiences can connect with wherever they may be,”

Mitchell said. "Gangs of Lagos launching will truly be a global cultural moment that marks the beginning of a new era in storytelling, where audiences everywhere can see the full power of Nigerian and African voices and the depths of our continued commitment to the local TV and film industry.”
Photo by Robert Okine/Getty Images

Davido Releases His Highly-Anticipated ‘Timeless’ Album

Afrobeats megastar Davido has released his highly-anticipated fourth studio album Timeless.

After months of anticipation, Afrobeats superstar Davido has finally released his fourth studio album, Timeless.

The album, which is the first since his 2020 album A Better Time, includes 17 tracks featuring music heavyweights like the legendary Angelique Kidjo, Asake, Skepta, The Cavemen, and more. The album also includes the smash hit “Champion Sound,” which features Amapiano frontrunner Focalistic.

Timeless is Davido’s first album following his long hiatus from the limelight. After the loss of his three-year-old son Ifeanyi Adeleke—and his social media pause—fans poured out love to the artist in droves. In many ways, Timeless is a sonic resurgence of the “FEM” singer, albeit in a more seasoned way. With Timeless, Davido peels back another layer to his artistry, showcasing his ability to evolve as an entertainer.

The album also arrives on the heels of Davido’s revelation that he had married longtime sweetheart Chioma Rowland. During an interview with actress Bukunmi Adeaga-Ilori, he said:

“Just being away, you know I have had a lot to think about definitely. Time to rest, reflect on a lot of family time and time to make music again. You know, I remade the album. Before I went on a break I actually had an album ready... I had a tour ready. You know we did the album. I traveled. It was crazy. I’m married. A lot of different things but yeah, we are ready now to get back on the road. The album is out, it’s amazing.”

A day before the album’s release, Davido partnered with Spotify to release an exclusive trailer.

In a statement about the album roll out, Victor Okpala, Spotify’s Artist and Labels Partnerships Manager for West Africa, said that the platform was excited to support the album.

“This release is a much anticipated moment for one of African music’s greatest ambassadors of the digital era,” Okpala said. “Spotify is committed to providing a platform for global audiences to connect with African content and we are glad to support Davido as he achieves another milestone.”

Exciting things are in store for the Davido Music Worldwide boss, who also recently signed two new artists, Morravey and Logos Olori, to his DMW record label.

Stream the new album below.


Timeless by Davido

Timeless by Davidomusic.apple.com

Photo Credit: Wizkid's YouTube

Watch Wizkid’s Glitzy New Video For ‘Money And Love’

Afrobeats singer Wizkid has released the music video for his song “Money and Love.”

Nigerian superstar and Grammy award-winning artist Wizkid has just released a new music video for his song “Money and Love.” The DK- directed music video features vibrant colors and beautiful people. In November last year, the “Essence” crooner treated fans to his highly anticipated fifth studio album, More Love, Less Ego. “Money and Love” is one of the album's top tracks. Wizkid —who is also known as “Machala '' by his loyal fan base, Wizkid FC — displays his suave star power and swagger in the music video.

Throughout his career, Wiz has garnered a reputation for taking his time with his art, and this music video reflects that. The offering is a deliberate and well done visual output that showcases his ability to be chill, yet intentional about whatever project he puts his name on.

Over the years, the “Bad to Me” singer has been known to use a blended aesthetic of urban energy and relaxed, Afro-centric glamor in his visuals. In “Money and Love,” Wiz leans into that same urban energy by basking in vibrant colors and dynamic camera angles.

Wizkid, born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, first caught his big break in 2010, and has come a long way since his "Holla at Your Boy” days. He has since released several successful singles and albums, including Superstar (2011), Ayo (2014), Sounds from the Other Side (2017), Made in Lagos (2020), and More Love, Less Ego (2022). He has also collaborated with several international artists, including Drake, Beyonce, and Skepta.

Beyond the release of his recent music video, Wizkid has been booked and busy. The 32-year-old Afrobeats icon will be performing at festivals across Europe and the United States this the summer.

Watch the spanking new video below.

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