Menoe, aka Osmic or Ace of Spades, the closest thing to a saviour for local hip-hop.
Menoe is often at the receiving end of scorn and criticism every time he tries to enrich the culture. But the founder of the SA Hip-Hop Awards is not fazed.
“Well, because of the love I have for the culture and the work I have been putting in for 15 years, the criticism never really affects me because I understand people’s frustrations at times,” he says.
Soweto-born Menoe is an entrepreneur, artist and an activist.
His name, Remembrance, was a nod by his mother, Tebogo, to his father, who died six months into her pregnancy with Osmic.
Menoe has been a maverick from a young age. In Grade 4, he organised about 40 children in his neighbourhood to form a rollerskating crew long before it became a familiar feature in the townships.
“We sometimes called him MacGyver,” Tebogo says.
He was introduced to hip-hop when he first saw graffiti in a classmate’s notebook. He drew closer to the spray can in high school and it was evident even at home where he practised his graffiti on everything from walls outside his family house to chairs.
When he was in Grade 10, Menoe and a friend opened Ritual Stores in Newtown, Johannesburg. It is a concept store selling hip-hop clothing and music and a recording studio at the back.
From just having a store, he also built Ritual Media Group, the media company behind Africa’s biggest hip-hop festival Back To The City, Original Sound Track club in Newtown and also the awards.
Quite big in stature but with a demure presence, Menoe personifies the description “gentle giant”.
“He is one of the most solid brothers I know,” says high school friend Andrew Matsose. “His efforts, past or present, are things he’s either been working towards or has adapted along the way.”
Menoe was raised by his grandparents because his mother had a teaching job outside Gauteng.
His granny was murdered in their home. Menoe was the first on the scene when he came back from school. His mother believed this affected him but, to her surprise, he handled it with wisdom beyond his years.
Tebogo says: “He is someone who accepts things he cannot change,” says his mother.
Menoe remained calm when people complained about last year’s Back To The City where he had to deal with the stress of hosting the festival in the entire Newtown precinct, after having just hosted it under the Newtown bridge in Nxumalo Street six years ago.
He says: “We didn’t know how we were going to handle such a big space, but we made it work.”
The festival is a yearly event that takes place on April 27 and has maintained its growth since inception in 2007 where it had attracted just 3500, to this year’s 20000 fans.
The 28-year-old conceived the SA Hip-Hop Awards because “we never had a day where we all sit together and say congratulations on your achievements”.
“Hence the awards are meant to be that; a day where the culture can celebrate under one roof and say ‘We made it’.”
Initially, people, even those in the hip-hop industry, didn’t believe in the awards when they began in 2012.