South Africa’s Kwesta Has Got Spirit

South African born Senzo Mfundo Vilakazi, better known by his stage name Kwesta, is an indie rapper whose debut album ‘Special ReKwest’ was released in 2010 to some excitement and acclaim. He followed up this effort in 2013 with ‘DaKAR’, an acronym which means “Da King of African Rap”. It was his his third studio effort in effort 2016 that launched him into the limelight with ‘DaKAR II’. This platinum selling double LP featured prominent names in the South African rap scene such as his label imprint mate Kid X and Capetown native AKA.

The multiple time South African Music Award (SAMA) winner recruited Naija-American rapper Wale for his latest music video dubbed “Spirit”. Directed by South African native Tebogo “Tebza” Malope, winner of a coveted Gold Cannes Lions Best Use of Film Award, the video is intended to be seen as a “visual state of the address” per the rappers Twitter page.

What jumps out immediately are the striking visuals of South Africans in Kwesta’s hometown of Katlehong, which is a small township east of Johannesburg. The images shown depict a baptism taking place in a mighty flowing river followed by images of Kwesta greeting his youth fan base. Powerful scenes of people celebrating their daily lives despite whatever odds may be stacked against them are prevalent throughout. There are snapshots of moments in what appears to be cultural religious ceremonies, churches, and community social bonding. The utilization of African drum beats in conjunction with the images of daily life exudes the South African swagger and vibe with every scene. This blend of what could be considered authentic South African culture blended with Black American rap culture makes for a very exciting and intriguing video for the discerning eye.

Director Tebogo Malope expounds upon some the themes shown throughout the phases of the video in an interview with IOL Entertainment.

“The first part of the harmony is about where we come from. The struggle, a bit of that previously-disadvantaged burden that we constantly carry with us.”

“The second part of the harmony is where we are now: somehow we find a way to keep the spirit up and try to make things happen. The third aspect of it is the aspirational aspect that shows that it’s inevitable for us as a people to make it.”

“The subtext of those three levels are like this,” Malope explains. “The first harmony about where we come from is represented by the spirit in a religious and cultural context. The second bit was the spirit of the hood hustle, in the sense that there’s a guy who rolls and spins his car to entertain people or the guy who washes the taxi on the side of the road for an extra buck.”

“The third one, which is the aspiration one, is primarily represented by the hip hop iconography: the super cars, the popping of champagne and making it rain with money, the girls, the fancy clothes at the club, the smoking of the hubbly. I wanted to use very typical hip hop ionography to represent that.”

“You take those three aspects and intertwine them and make it cut across and you’re essentially showing the spirit in all its facets.” 

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