Black is Back!

Black is Back!

Jonathan Duguid

This year home grown hip hop celebrates its 25th anniversary. It also marks 25 years of Black Noise, a hip hop crew from our very own Cape Town. Coincidence? I think not.
Being South Africa’s first hip hop crew, Black Noise was formed from the remainder of the breakdancers from the early 1980s who decided to write their own songs and create a bigger performance that included rapping and beatboxing.
I got in touch with the crew anchor, Emile YX? Jansen (who you may know as the host of TV show ‘Step Up Or Step Out’), to find out more.

Jansen told me that it was no easy task being SA’s first hip hop crew, because at first people didn’t know what to make of them, as the genre itself was brand new. He added, though, that it helped when they breakdanced. He also said that he believes that the cultural boycotts that existed at the time meant South Africans had more respect and time to listen to, and support local music.

When asked about how the SA hip hop scene (as a whole) has changed in the past 25 years, I couldn’t help but notice Jansen’s disappointment. He told me that there are so many underlying problems within the industry, saying, “I’d have to first be a social worker to really help solve the hip hop scene in SA, when ironically all I want is to be an artist”. He added, “We’ve gone from being proud of what is ours, to thinking that success means sounding like the US.”

Black Noise has always been known for its breakthrough sounds. The group experiment(ed) with Klopse/Goema, rock, funk, Khoisan sounds, and even big band, which is all culminated together with who they are and the various sounds hip hop has taken over the years – ultimately making them forever evolutionary, revolutionary and current.

‘Black Is Back’, their latest single celebrating 25 years, is currently playlisted on various radio stations, and the video is on YouTube, and features Nikki Autumn on vocals. The official launch will be at the beginning of November, but if you can’t wait that long, some of the Black Noise crew will be at the Voorkamerfees in Darling from September 6 to 8.

Looking at gigs happening slightly sooner, this weekend is action-packed!

• Friday August 23 sees Canadian band Billy Talent back in Cape Town at the City Hall with opening acts Goodnight Wembley and Get Lucky. Doors open at 6pm, and tickets start at R350 (from

• Also on Friday, Desmond and the Tutus, The Aztec Sapphire, and Yo Grapes will perform at Zula on Long Street. Entrance is R50 and it starts at 8pm.

• On Saturday August 24 at 8.30pm, Fokofpolisiekar will be launching their Acoustic DVD at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Tickets are R120 (from

• Two of SA’s favourite cabaret musicians, Emile Minnie and Godfrey Johnson, will be performing on Sunday August 25 at the Alma Café, Rosebank. Show starts at 7pm.

– @theDramaKing on Twitter