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Upcoming Film 'African/American' Based on South African Rapper ProKid

Vic Mensa and Ruth Carter are set to bring the late South African rap pioneer ProKid's life to the big screen in 'African/American'.

American rapper Vic Mensa is reportedly set to star in the upcoming film African/American which explores the rise of South African hip hop post-Apartheid and focuses on the late ProKid's life story. Dubbed the Kasi rap pioneer, ProKid passed away back in 2018 and left an indelible mark on the country's rap scene. Additionally, Oscar award-winning costume designer, Ruth Carter, is reportedly set to produce the film.


READ: The 10 Best PRO(Kid) Songs Ranked

Describing how she feels about her debut producing gig, Carter says, "I am excited to tell this dynamic story about survival and cultural identities." She goes on to add that, "African/American ignites the sense of right place, right time in a way that makes you believe that you can do anything you set your mind to."

According to SlikourOnLife, Mensa will play the role of Syd Money (real name Sydney Hall) who was instrumental in bringing together some of the best and most talented producers in South Africa for work on ProKid's seminal Heads And Tales album which was released in 2005. The role of ProKid himself will reportedly be taken on by South African actor, Thabang Molaba, who starred in Netflix's wildly successful teen-led drama, Blood & Water.

Shadow And Act reports that while the film is a tribute to the late ProKid, it will also explore the parallels between African and African-American experiences. This particular take should prove interesting given the conflict, at times, between these two groups. Executed well, it may humanise the one group to the other but executed poorly, it may further embed existing stereotypes which will cement the rift between the two.

Details with regards to when the cast will be announced or when production will commence have not been revealed as yet. African/American is the second film to be released and based on parts of ProKid's music career. Last year, a two-part documentary, Dankie San – The Kasi Rap Bible, aired on South Africa's channel SABC 1 and depicted the makings of his 2007 album Dankie San.

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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