This is part 1 of a 2 part conversation with hip hop scholar and University of Cape Town Professor Adam Haupt and hip hop artist Bradley Lodewyk (aka b-boy King Voue) from the group Brasse Vannie Kaap, or BVK. We met up at the University of Cape Town while they were working on their book project, Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism, and Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa, and the EP In the Key of B. The book and EP can be accessed at https://www.hsrcpress.ac.za/books/neva-again.
The book was edited by Adam Haupt, Quentin Williams, H Samy Alim & Emile Jansen. The #IntheKeyofB EP was produced by Adam and Bradley and features Cape Flats MCs and vocalists, such as Nadine Matthews-Nunes, Naftali Solomons, Eavesdrop, Shameema Williams (ex Godessa), Natasha C. Tafari, Emile YX? (Black Noise, Heal the Hood), Amy Brown, Imie Vannie Delf, Dirtypro Agape Tadana, Stefan Benting, Razeen Haupt, Nathan Lodewyk, Zama Jimba and Jerome Rex.
In this episode, Bradley talks about his work with BVK and the involvement of the group in politics. BVK members were from the Cape Flats area in Cape Town, and rapped in Kaaps, a Cape Flats dialect of Afrikaans. They released their first album in the late-1990s. The conversation in this episode looks at hip hop under apartheid, and the influence of apartheid of the development of hip hop culture in South Africa. We also discuss South Africa’s history of protest and activism. Adam and Bradley discuss the failures of the post-apartheid government to live up to the promises of the movement, and their adoption of a neoliberal economic system, which “reinforced the racialized class divide”. Within this, Adam and Bradley say hip hop became, and still is, a vehicle to expose youth to progressive ideas The topics In the Key of B EP covers include gang violence, toxic masculinity, the failures of the state, and gentrification Adam and Bradley also discuss bringing the various contributors together for this project, and their use of social media, especially WhatsApp, to communicate. In this project WhatsApp was a space for them to engage with social and political issues happening in South Africa, which would in turn, influence their work on the project. According to Adam, “It was also a way of demystifying the academic writing about the issues”.