The year is dead. Long live the year!
2018 was a revolutionary year for South African music and South African musicians too, as a host of them earned platinum certifications and, in the case of “Malwedhe” crooner King Monada, watched their songs travel swiftly across the world.
“Fela in Versace” hitmaker AKA even acknowledged, in a tweet, the advancement South African music made this. He credited “Honey and Pain” crooner Tumi Molekane, also known as Stogie T, with having done the magic.
“because of @TumiMolekane I can proudly say that (South Afica) is the MECCA of AFRICAN HIP HOP. There is no more room for debate. When it comes to this Hip Hop shit … South Africa IS THE (top) fucking level,” AKA had tweeted back in November.
Although Nigeria’s M.I. Abaga had disputed that assertion, it stands true that South African music has had a wonderful year. A wonderful year indeed.
It was also a painful year, too, as South Africa lost some of its iconic music maestros. In the list of recorded deaths this year are the “Dankie San” mastermind Linda “PRO” Mkhize, Jabulani “HHP” Tsambo and, most recently, Vusimuzi Ngwenya, better known as Mavusana.
PRO’s death was a devastating slap to many, including “Bozza” crooner Gigi Lamayne, who have come to see a mentor and a big brother in him. She was so devastated she went on a long cathartic cry on Twitter, asking who would protect her now that PRO was no more.
By the way, PRO’s death may have had exacerbated her fears and depression of seven years and even made her contemplate suicide late this year. But she survived her dark hour, thanks to the massive support from South Africans.
Now she is bringing mental wellbeing to other South Africans who might have suffered or may be suffering a similar slip. What would have been a tragedy has turned into a massive education on mental and general heath for many.
Death struck the industry again, as HHP was found dead in his Johannesburg home in an apparent suicide. His death shook the industry but did not surprise many: HHP has suffered depression a long time and has even attempted suicide several times in the past.
It was mourning all over again, not just in South Africa, but across the African continent. The outpouring of grief was palpable all around. HHP’s friend and contemporary, Nigeria’s Koko Master D’Banj, even had to defer the release of two of his singles (“Shake It,” featuring Tiwa Savage, and “Something for Something,” featuring Cassper Nyovest), to honour HHP.
“Rest in perfect peace my brother HHP . 🕯. All releases postponed till next week to Mourn and Honor Our Legend,” D’Banj had written back then.
Fellow countryman Kwesta had gone one to dedicate a song to the late hip hop star, titled “Tribute to HHP.”
Many were still in grief when tragedy struck yet again. This time, death, the insatiable reaper, picked an older veteran in the music scene, Kwaito star Vusimuzi Ngwenya, better known as Mavusa. Mavusana had been found dead in his hotel room on his birthday.
At the time of his death, he was said to have been doing a promotion for MTN.
“He didn’t wake up in the morning. He wasn’t sick. He performed. He was on top of his game. We were sharing a room and he went back to the hotel to sleep. The girls came to sing happy birthday for him in the morning and we discovered he was no more,” his brother Reason had offered to Sowetan Live.
Just like that. As dumb as death. Rappers like Reason, who recently commented on his close shave with death this year, has already given the middle finger to 2018, in anticipation of something new. Something exciting.
May 2019 not be another year of severe losses for us in South Africa. And may our music fly.