Music
Shane Eagle. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

What To Expect At Shane Eagle’s Yellow Tour: “A Genuine Connection”

Shane Eagle is going on tour. It will be no regular tour, according to the rapper.

In June, Shane Eagle's debut album Yellow (2017) won him the coveted Best Hip-Hop Album trophy at the country's biggest award show, the South African Music Awards (SAMAs). The rapper is now going on a four-city tour between August and December. The Yellow Tour will have four stops—Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Joburg. He is taking with him on the road, Riky Rick, YoungstaCPT, DJ Speedsta and Shekhinah.


According to Shane and his business partner and manager, Vaughn Thiel, who is also the co-founder of Eagle Entertainment, this won't be your regular hip-hop tour. "Each city," says Vaughn, "gets a pop-up store, a show and a chance to connect with Shane in a real way; playing PlayStation, listening to music, just vibing out like real people. That's pretty much what you guys can expect, just a genuine connection."

"It's not really about the people on stage, but the people that are there, too," Vaughn continues. "It's gonna be a shared experience. From a visual and audio [perspective], I promise you, we are not sleeping to give you guys what you deserve. The sacrifice that we put down is going to be worth the price of the ticket. It's not even about that; it's about creating a genuine relationship with the people who are riding with us at this point. The album is not in stores, so when you pull up with a hard copy, everyone's gonna know you were at the shows and you're part of the family."

Shane Eagle during the media launch of The Yellow Tour. Photography by Sabelo Mkhabela.

The pop-up store will be open for a whole month in each city, culminating with a concert, which will take place at the end of that month.

A week before the Cape Town pop-up store opens on August 4, Shane Eagle and Vaughn gather the media at the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein, Joburg. This is the same venue where the Joburg leg of the tour will take place in December. The rapper gives a simulation of what the concert will be like. He brings on stage with him a three-piece band (keys, bass and drums) to perform songs from Yellow.

What is striking about his performance is his attention to detail. While a lot of hip-hop tours and shows normally take place in clubs, Shane, by choosing halls and arenas, allows himself to take control of the feel of his shows, instead of taking whatever the club is offering. As he performs his songs on the night, there is a certain elegance and minimalism about the stage setup, which is an aesthetic that Shane prefers, judging from his album, his videos and even his recording studio.

Shane Eagle's Yellow popup store at Kulture Kollective. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Right before he samples the tour to the audience, though, the artist is joined by Vaughn and the singer Shekhinah on stage for a Q&A session with the former editor of Hype, Fred Mercury.

Shane reveals that he decided to involve Shekhinah in the tour when he saw her at the SAMAs, which wasn't the first time they had met. "I'm a person who bases a lot of decision off of genuine energy, and that's something that can't be fabricated," he says. "If you shake someone's hand, you can already get their energy, the first time you meet them. You don't always get genuine energy, but since the first time I kicked it with Shekh, the energy was real, and we were just young people at the awards. She did a thing at the awards, I was there and we connected. The tour is supposed to be fun, and have people I rock with. When you go to a rap show, you expect me to bring out another rapper, I will bring out Shekhinah." The audience applauds.

"I get a lot of requests to do things," says Shekhinah, "but I'm at that stage where I want everything to be as genuine as Shane does with his work, so working with him made me feel empowered."

Shane Eagle takes photos with fans at his popup store. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Shane and Vaughn pride themselves in doing things differently. For instance, Shane Eagle is one of the few young hip-hop artists who are independent, and are totally fine with it. Yellow isn't a trap album, as is the case with most current hip-hop albums by his peers. Which is why his win at the SAMAs was a game changer. The Best Hip-Hop Album award has been mostly won by established artists who had the backing of the industry and labels. Most of the albums that have scooped the award boasted chart-topping hits, and were accessible beyond hip-hop circles. Yellow was the opposite of all that. It was released independently without a big single. Shane flourishes online—according to him, Yellow has been streamed more than 3 million times.

"It's easy to go set up the tour at clubs," says Vaughn. "But it's also easy to sign to a record label. It's also easy to put your CD in stores. It's also easy to make music that's commercially acceptable on a greater platform. It's easy to do those things, we can do those things in our sleep. I could call up a club, and set up 20 venues in 20 weeks, and we can make it look like we're doing something." But they choose to play the game by their own terms.

"So taking that concept and applying it to Shane doesn't make sense," Vaughn continues, "because everything I just mentioned, we did the complete opposite. We sell the CD out the boot of our cars. We sell the CD at pop-up stores, we don't put our CD at Musica, we don't do that, because we feel like if we are gonna build a fanbase and we have one opportunity to do it first, we might as well do it from the grassroots."

Vaughn goes on to say that the tour is purely self-funded, just like everything they do.

A month ago, Shane hosted a pop-up store at the shop Kulture Kollective in Braamfontein. His fans came out in numbers to buy the Yellow CD, merchandise and Yellow themed artworks.

The power of Shane Eagle is his ability to relate to his fans. His music is personal—throughout Yellow, he talks about his day-to-day struggles and triumphs.

"Everything you see," says Vaughn, "every single stream, every single follow, every single like, nothing has been manufactured. Not one thing. That shit is organic as it comes."

"The tour was gonna happen regardless if the SAMAs hadn't happened, or if I had 10 views instead of hundreds of thousands," says Shane. "It just felt like it was God's timing, everything that happened outside of the tour, and seeing how South Africa is responding. I was gonna go see my fans whether there was 10 or 10,000 of them. But fortunately for now, I have a couple of real fans rocking with me. And I'm bringing the experience to them."

The Yellow Tour kicks off on the 4th of August in Cape Town, with a pop-up store, which will run until the 31st of August when the concert takes place.

Tickets, dates and venues for all four cites are available here.

Featured
Collage by Ta'Ron Joyner

I Would Rather Breathe Than Think Outside the Box

South African artists were already working for little to no pay, but the pandemic has unleashed a flood of exploitative work requests right when we need money the most.

This essay is part of OkayAfrica's SA Reframed series, featuring personal writing from some of South Africa's best young writers edited by Verashni Pillay.

On the radio the other day, I heard a small business owner of a costume design company being interviewed and asked how they have managed to:

a. Reinvent themselves during this period, and

b. Think outside the box while doing so.

Their conversation made me think about how I have not managed to wrap my head around any sort of future, or reinvention outside any kind of box—beyond the one that wraps itself around my immediate reality. When the lockdown was announced, three friends and I withdrew to a remote area where internet access was dubious and, most times, simply not available. I would need to walk a bit of a distance to locate a spot under a tree or up a mountain to be connected for thirty minutes, or so.

Then I would do a basic comb through my emails and respond to work or requests that were already underway pre-lockdown. I only responded to new requests that either afforded me the opportunity to earn an income or those that allowed me to be productive on my own terms.

I was tired, lowkey grateful for the global pause, and no longer interested in the overly productive, overloaded nature of my previous normal. Something about the forced halt made me realise that I was on the edge of everything—myself included. I turned down anything that required me to join the endless online festivals, zoom panel discussions, Instagram takeovers and live readings. I refused all opportunities that needed me to grapple with any sort of forced normalcy. The ones that offered data or airtime or solidarity as compensation or assumed that I had gone pro bono. I needed a moment. I needed the space and time to re-bargain with the point of it all.

The pause was both useful and scary. It brought to the surface fears and revelations about the shortfalls of our industry and how creatives are positioned within the productivity machinery and economy of South Africa, or rather all the ways we fall outside of it.

As Minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi mentioned in a briefing two months ago, "On the issue of freelance workers—unfortunately with the current legislation they fall outside. Maybe what we are going to do is that after this we will have to re-look at it in terms of our legislative amendments and start a debate about that." Why are there laws that have gone unchallenged? Who should be challenging them? Why are artists hearing, out loud for the first time, of convenient loopholes that render us outside of an economy that taxes us like everyone else, and consumes us and our work. Yet, in times of crisis, this same economy engages with our art and our productivity and our products, but still deems us on the margin, outside, and non-essential. If we are not assisted financially, how can we be productive, how can we acquire the resources to produce? How can we apply our minds to anything else outside of survival and scrambling to stay afloat.

Pandemics do not mean that artists have gone pro bono

When you approach an artist with the assumption that they have gone pro bono during this time, when you draft an email to request a collaboration, a commission, a participation, a productivity of any kind, please bear in mind that artists are up against an unconcerned and corrupt government that has failed to provide aid and assistance to their sector during this time.

Theatre critic Sara Holdren says "Art is hard and most of it fails—either in small ways or catastrophic ones." In South Africa, the process of making art is hard, sure, but more than that, the conditions and the context in which we make work fails us in catastrophic ways that will require more than a debate and amended legislation. It will need, for starters, a minister who cares about the arts and understands its soul and mechanisms. This pause has brought about more questions and concerns for me than inspiration to reinvent or think outside the box. I have questions about the box itself and why I feel asphyxiated and trapped by its design.

I would rather breathe than think outside of the box

This pandemic has made me question what my career, livelihood and stability have been built on; what has been propping them up all this time, and what has been allowing me to appear valued and valuable in this economy? What does and will the spectrum of value look like in a normal that has been disrupted and now sits in a near distant future that may or may not be near?

Then I find myself vacillating between hope and concern. My hope is that when the pandemic is no longer with us, artists can have a come-to-jesus conversation about what has contributed and exacerbated this attitude and disrespect toward our practice and industry, I hope we can challenge the legislations that we have been dared to challenge, I hope we can be productive in ways that serve us and make sense for our well-being, that we will be paid our worth and that our society will realize that without the artist producing, there will be no art, or music, or films, or books and things that have kept people entertained and creatively nourished during this time.

My concern is that the "free"content artists are currently creating and the free access to art or performances, will not make this realisation possible, and that this kind of access, that was already undervalued and exploited, will be irreversible. The exploitation dialogue is tiring. Being treated as non-essential is tiring and terrifying too, and while most of the world can slowly start going back to work, most artists will probably have to hang tight until 2021, maybe even 2022.

While artists deal with a hoax of an arts and culture department that is dead to us and a minister who tweets more than he does his job, in an ideal world, I wish that artists could afford to indulge uncertainty, and fear, and pause, in ways that allow them to heed the call made by Nicholas Berger in his piece The Forgotten Art of Assembly [Or, Why Theatre Makers Should Stop Making] "We must lean into this pain. We must feel the grief. We must mourn. Mourn the loss of work, the loss of jobs, the loss of money, the loss of life. Mourn the temporary loss of an art form that demands assembly. Lean into the grief. Lean in. Lean in. Lean in. We must remind ourselves that mourning is a human act, not a digital one."

Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Her bestselling debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia is in its 10th print run and her play No Easter Sunday for Queers Sunday for Queers won several awards.

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Omah Lay Is Nigeria's New Young Act to W​atch

We sit down with the rising Port Harcourt-born musician to talk about his latest EP, Get Layd.