There is a fire burning as intense as a super nova in the hip hop industry. This fire however is concealed under a cloud of institutional and bureaucratic dogma. This fire’s rage is being left unnoticed by the powers that be and I am predicting a volcanic eruption and disruption of the status quo. I’m sure you’re very confused as to what exactly I am eluding to with my elementary level analogies, so let me elaborate.
All SA hip hop fans and Stans are aware of the impending South African Hip Hop Awards (SAHHA) that will once again extend accolades for the accomplishments of SA hip hop artists for this year. Recently the list of nominations in the different categories was announced and as expected was met with some criticism. However I won’t indulge on the politics because I believe platforms such as SAHHA and even Slikouronlife should remain positive and celebrate the excellence in the game. It’s in the same breath however that I maintain that we also need to pay attention to the fire I was referring to before.
SAHHA was the underdog award show that jumped into the ring with the mainstream award shows that we all know i.e. SAMAs and Metros. Its conception was received by the people like the arrival of the saviour of the game. This was the small guy entering the fight to finally represent the streets for what they truly are and not influenced by any agenda the mainstream award shows allegedly might be governed by. SAHHA was charged by the people to serve the people and its success and failure oscillated like a pendulum on the whims of the people. So clearly this platform was valued for more than its entertainment value, this platform was the voice of the people (as you might have gathered I’m making use of an excessive amount of clichés in this article so get used to it). This is a lot of pressure to be placed on an organisation but yet again a simple ask if everything is kept above board. Don’t worry, I’m getting to the fire analogy.
SAHHA did not disappoint as it stuck to its guns and nurtured the integrity of the hip hop industry as a whole. We saw, just as an example, the impact the awards had on Cassper Nyovest’s trajectory in terms of his career path. I’m not saying that his success should be attributed to the awards he won, but they were instrumental. SAHHA celebrated elements of the game that mainstream award shows neglected and this was loved by the people. The best mixtape, best dance crew, best graffiti and king of the province categories unearthed grass root talent on a platform that never before was available. It is with all that said that we can deduct that SAHHA is of vital importance to the sustenance and development of the industry and its integrity must be protected at all costs. As the saying goes however, where there is smoke, there is fire (FINALLY).
Leading on from last year, I was alerted to the fact that the Cash Time Family will once again be boycotting the awards ceremony. No submissions were made by the roster of some of the most celebrated artists in the game right now. I did not make any contact with the members of Cash Time Fam so I will refrain from making any assumptions. This boycott is the smoke exuding from the fire which is the frustration of the aggrieved. The aggrieved are the talented artists who are experiencing difficulties with the SAHHA. In the next few weeks I will be exploring some of the positive and some negative features of the SAHHAs. This week I’ll be focusing on the Cash Time Fam boycott.
One has to wonder why such an established unit would choose to not want to be part of an, albeit fledgling, prestigious award show. From all the positives I drew on above, it isn’t obvious why any artist wouldn’t want to be part of this. But where there is smoke, there is fire. Last year K.O, according to Times Live, cited that there was an inherent bias, lack of transparency and credibility at an executive level. At the forefront of these allegations were dubious judging processes. SAHHA retorted by saying rules are rules and artists should abide to the authority. This is a firm stance by SAHHA that I am uncomfortable with. SAHHA should not that it is the interest of the people that breathes wind into its lungs. Not having some of the hottest artists in the country at the show fails to drive maximum value into the SAHHA brand. We’ve highlighted how important these award shows are in the industry and SAHHA should consistently be seeking to make itself bigger and better, not exclusive. Cash Time Fam’s grievances need to be investigated further and SAHHA needs to appease the very people it seeks to celebrate, the artists. Big or small, SAHHA should service the needs of the artists and it is through this that we will see a growth in the industry.
On the other hand, Cash Time Fam needs to recognise the impact of this boycott will have on the industry. A boycott is a negative move and it does not seek to conciliate or mitigate circumstances. A boycott sends out a message that is negative and nonconstructive, which is definitely not needed in a developing industry. This also sets the precedent that whenever an artist is unhappy with the awards organizers, a boycott is the default reaction. What we need is a round table or any forum for aggrieved artists to be heard and for meaningful changes can be made. SAHHA cannot accept that they have the perfect model in place, like everything, improvements can be made. Artists also need to understand that many considerations have to be made when it comes to award shows and no one artist is more important than the next. If both artists and Ritual Media respect the institution that SAHHA has become then it shouldn’t be that hard for amicable agreements to be reached. SAHHA is bigger than all of us.
Let’s hope differences can be worked out in future and we all can work together towards enriching the culture and celebrating those who deserve to be celebrated. Feel free to share your thoughts and let’s get this dialogue going!