Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

In Photos: The Spectacle That Was Riky Rick’s Cotton Fest

Riky Rick's inaugural Cotton Fest exhibited professionalism and the spirit of youth.

I've attended a lot of hip-hop festivals over the years, and the one thing most of them have in common is unprofessionalism—the performance running order is hardly ever followed, time is never kept, artists show up late, the sound quality is trash and sets are cut short in an attempt to keep up with time.

Riky Rick's inaugural Cotton Fest was the opposite. The performance running order, which was posted in the venue for everyone to see (unlike with most hip-hop festivals I've attended), was followed religiously. Access into the venue was never a hassle, too.


Both of the festival's stages were perfectly setup, and the sound quality was top notch.

Cotton Fest brought the trendy Joburg cool kids together. And the festival being of the rapper and fashion killa Riky Rick's making, all the cotton eaters showed up dressed to the T.

The outfits ranged from minimal to straight up outlandish (in a good way).

Performances on the night came from the A-listers of South African hip-hop (AKA, Riky Rick, Nasty C, A-Reece, Emtee etc.) alongside some up-and-comers and South Africa's new wave (The Big Hash, PatricKxxLee, Rowlene etc.) and the country's top hip-hop DJs (Maphorisa, DJ Dimplez, P Kuttah, Speedsta and a lot more).

Sets that moved me came from Emtee, AKA, Stogie T, P Kuttah, Nasty C, The Big Hash, PatricKxxLee, Mzambiya (the surprise act), and Moonchild Sanelly, among many others.

I had to leave the venue before all the acts had performed because of a personal emergency, but I was deeply impressed and satisfied with the professionalism exhibited by the organizers.

I'm hoping more festivals this side of the world can learn a thing or two from Cotton Fest.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.


The Big Hash. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.


Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Stogie T. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Nadia Nakai. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Nasty C. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

AKA. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Manu WorldStar. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Lunah Florentino. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

2Lee Stark. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Emtee. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Distruction Boyz. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

P Kuttah. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Una Rams. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

KLY. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Priddy Ugly. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

PatricKxxLee. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Nadia Nakai. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Tshego and Gemini Major. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

YoungstaCPT. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Scoop Makhathini. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.


Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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