The third annual Durban Youth Hip Hop Festival hits the east coast on June 10 and 11. Supported by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and Brand South Africa, and spearheaded by Richie R Concepts, Established Productions and KgoloDaGuru, the festival is a two-day event.
In addition to a pre-party on June 9, this will be a culmination of music industry workshops and a concert. From producers to radio practitioners and representatives from financial institutions, the workshops aim to have knowledge transference as their ultimate goal.
While the concert – which will feature the likes of Riky Rick, Major League DJs, Junior De Rocka and more – and the workshops are no different to a regular music conference format, the difference is that these will focus on only one culture: hip hop.
I spoke to Hlubi Radebe of Richie R Concepts, who said: “it all started when we saw the growth and influence that hip hop has on our urban youth, in terms of how they act, dress and more. (Richie R Concepts) works a lot with government departments and the youth. We realised there is big disconnection between the two.
“In government, there are all these projects for the youth that they don’t know that they can access,” Radebe continues. “we decided to use the medium of hip hop to bring them together and show them what is available to them.”
In its inaugural year, the festival drew a crowd of about 6 000.
That increased the organiser’s confidence in hip hop as a tool and they wanted to go further.
So last year, they started a three-month programme in conjunction with The Fresh Cut show presented by DJ Lab on Gagasi FM. Here, the likes of Nasty C got to showcase their talent. The best of that three months got to perform at the concert element of last year’s festival.
This year, they have embarked on another artist development programme that saw more than 1 000 aspiring hip hop stars audition at the BAT Centre for a chance to perform and battle weekly at the trendy 8 Morrison.
From these performers, 20 acts will get to share the stage with some established artists at the concert this year. Of that 20, only 10 will be chosen to participate in the CMJ showcase in New York in October.
“We’re still looking for sponsors for flights and other things, but we think it’s great that 10 artists will get to go to CMJ and become ambassadors for South Africa,” says Radebe.
This artist development programme has been filmed for a reality show called My Connect: Road to the CMJ, which will appear on DStv’s Mzansi Magic next month.
Last year, US hip hop heavyweight, Rick Ross, was the headlining performer. This year, the organisers are keeping it local.
“Typically, this festival takes place in May,” explains Radebe, “and we’ve had to push it back because we had to wait for some government admin processes. So June is the summer in America and during that time, the relevant artists charge around R3.5 million. So we’d rather spend that money in this country and make sure that these South African artists have everything they need on the road to CMJ.”
The Durban Youth Hip Hop Festival, Moses Mabhida Stadium, June 10 and 11.