Parts of 2017 were obviously quite shitty. But – work with us here – it was also was one hell of an epic year.
The South African creative industry continued its unprecedented global ascent, with a number of our entertainment exports doing big things around the world.
For the music business, it’s the year we had some of the most iconic international collaborations (Kwesta x Wale and Cassper x Black Thought et al), the rise of Gqom along with the inevitable return of House Music.
A South African actress was nominated for an Emmy, a locally produced film has been shortlisted for an Oscar, the biggest stadium in the continent was for the first time sold by a local Hip Hop artist, and lots more.
In terms of the names who were at the forefront of the shifting landscape, we’ve got the usual suspects who’ve continued to sustain and grow their brands, refine their niches, grow their coins and reach new heights.
But, far more interestingly, newer players have us shook.
Remember Babes Wodumo’s smash bop Wololo? It’s amongst a string of some of the biggest Gqom hits the Durban hitmakers have produced over the past three years.
It’s been a long time coming, though. Before blowing up with the release of their debut album Gqom Is The Future, Distruction Boyz had already mastered the art of creating hits who’s popularity functioned outside the radio and TV airplay endorsement and mainstream exposure paradigm. They almost embody authentic street authority.
ALBUM REVIEW: DISCTRUCTION BOYS – GQOM IS THE FUTURE
Their previous hits Uzophuza Amanzi and Shut Up And Groove began as a local craze along the coast of Durban, before taking over the rest of the country, as well elsewhere in the continent. Selling like vetkoeks in winter, Gqom Is The Future is being tipped as the Gqom genre’s biggest success, and indeed one of the fastest selling albums this year across all genres.
THE MICROWAVE BOYS
2017 is the year we finally got it right with the YouTube vlogging thing. Before, it felt a bit out of place. Fine, the likes of Moshe were able to corner that space and graduate to the mainstream. However, it hasn’t been until recently that the diverse richness of our spontaneous creativity really settled on the platform, to an audience that seeks it.
As far as internet sensations go, The Microwave Boys really managed to break in and shake things up.
Consisting of three outspoken youngins flaunting their wit and tackling trending topics with refreshing humor, originality and total madness, the group’s YouTube channel has become one of the fastest growing in the vlogging universe.
Now household names who’ve used their growing platform to dabble in other things – Sipho, Larryngitis and Sphaka have managed to find themselves hosting all kinds of events, frequenting MTV Base and SABC 3’s Trending SA, churning out merchandise and endorsing cool fashion brands who send them a bunch of cool shit to showcase to their audience.
They’ve since amassed over 8 000 subscribers, which is really not shabby at all. The Boys are doing good.
Lady Zamar first shot to fame when she laid sultry vocals on Junior Taurus and Prince Kaybee’s albums, both which came out in 2016. She’s the girl who’s voice on previous House summer faves like Charlotte, Mamelodi, and Cotton Candy captured first the streets of Pretoria, and then the rest of the country.
Then vaguely known, her flawless vocals, poetic lyrics, and her girl next door vibe were enough to propel a few collaborative bangers with both House music DJs to the top of the charts. So many chart-topping bops came out of her work with both DJs that by the time she released her very first solo debut single, her catalog was already brilliant.
2017 was Lady Zamar’s turn. Following the success of her first single Love Is Blind, the songstress unleashed her melodic debut album – King Zamar. In it, she confidently marks her spot within the House music space.
Interestingly, she’s often compared by fans to Bucie as they often refer to her as the new Queen of House vocals.
What’s more, even though her vocal virtuosity is undeniable, she’s pretty hands-on with different aspects of her music. Most notably, she writes all the bangers you love.
He was discovered on The Hustle – VUZU AMP’s Hip Hop reality competition show, back in 2015. And as we’ve now come to understand as somewhat of a fact about these talent search TV shows, it’s seldom about who takes the crown. No shade.
After being eliminated in the Top 5, the 21-year-old rapper waited for no grass to grow. Leveraging the attention he’d been enjoying while in the ‘mansion’, he dropped Way Up, with whom he collaborated with the season’s winner, the insanely talented Bigstar.
It was not long before he was on TV again, this time as a full-time presenter on V-Entertainment and continuity links on V PRIME, while still dropping a few joints here and there, like Top Floor and Julia.
The former track was more experimental for the rapper, who soon ditched boarding the current Hip Hop new cat trap bandwagon for a far more introspective, laid back and substantive sound.
What came next was him pouring him pouring out his soul on his Gold-certified debut album Yellow, in which he distills his personal experiences and perspectives on life, love, culture, and politics in one hell of a pleasant listen.
It might have been too far a risk for any other commercially successful rapper to shun the lucrative trap fad, but Shane Eagle is an independent artist. What he says goes.
Shekhinah snapped this past year.
The 23-year-old Durban bred vocalist first caught the public’s attention when she appeared on Idols South Africa season 8, where she would reach the season’s Top 5. Although many viewers were up in arms about her unexpected elimination, that might have been the best thing to have happened to her career.
She went back to finish her studies at AFDA, which she juggled with a thriving musical career. Despite releasing some of the most memorable hits, such as Back To The Beach, Your Eyes with Black Coffee, and among others Let You Know, she continued to keep a low profile while focusing on books.
Once that was out of the way, Shekhinah came out withholding nothing. She dropped Suited, one of the year’s biggest anthems. She accompanied that with a vintage-themed romantic music video that would go on to become of the most viewed South African music visuals (currently with 2.7 million views).
She finally released her debut album RoseGold, one of our faves for the year. Read our REVIEW for RoseGold
She gained her prominence at one of Durban’s most buzzing lifestyle hangouts Eyadini, where she was often spotted – and randomly snapped – dancing with no care in the world. She soon became a social media obsession, as many of the pictures went viral across online platforms.
Her come up was sealed as soon as she got her Afrotainment co-sign. They are arbiters of the Durban entertainment scene. These days, Zodwa is one of the Most Googled South African Personalities in 2017.
The Bookings department is doing the things – she’s now one of the most sought-after personalities in the Southern African party scene. Leveraging her social media popularity and moving beyond into paving her own nook, she even featured on Culoe De Song’s Rambo music video as an animated character.
Speaking of internet sensations, a friend of mine recently spotted someone who looks like Skolopad by the tills at Checkers. It was the most random thing. While I didn’t see the resemblance, both of us at least know exactly who Skolopad is, and how she looks. Welcome to the internet age.
Along with Zodwa Wabantu, and of course, the Tholukuthi song, Skolopad’s prominence happened almost exclusively online.
Now one of the most talked about personalities, Skolopad first shot to fame when she burst out clad in a very revealing yellow dress on the Metro FM red carpet in February this year. The controversial number quickly made her a trending topic. Soon enough, she was being interviewed everywhere. Her social media followers were blowing up. Things were happening, and quickly.
She works as a nurse during the day, we soon learned, and has been trying to crack the entertainment industry since 2014.
Since then, she’s been consistent with her red carpet shocks, most recently having worn a plastic dress that doubled as boerewors bags at the Feather Awards. Actual boerewors rolls in it, ala Lady Gaga’s iconic and gross meat dress back in the day.
She accessorized the meaty outfit with a hardwood charcoal braai bag. Now known for her unconventional, meme-ready poses on the carpets, this time she treated photographers to a fake faint pose.
Although she has since now promised to stop posting nude pics of herself on the socials when President Jacob Zuma steps down, Skolopad has been missing no opportunities to flaunt some flash.
We are keeping her.
In terms of bragging rights, it doesn’t get better than ‘Emmy nominated actress’. Raising the South African flag very high, 26-year-old actress Thuso Mbedu scored an International Emmy Award nomination for her kickass portrayal of Winnie on Mzansi Magic television series Isithunzi.
While she might have lost the prestigious gong to a British actress, there’s no doubt that the nomination has elevated her profile significantly. For one, everyone around here is doing their ‘Things you must know about’ lists about her.
She’s an Emmy nominated actress. Seriously, WOW!
SAMTHING SOWETO/SUN EL MUSICIAN
House music producer Sun El Musician and Samthing Soweto easily have the biggest hit of 2017.
Akanamali sees the Afro-jazz and neo-soul vocalist team up with the House music producer on the song that became one of the most playlisted, and high-selling surprise hits of the year.
It’s always refreshing when artists who aren’t already certified ‘hot acts’ emerge to snatch everything off the table when no one is looking, and that’s exactly what the two have done.
Who did it for you in 2017?
Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed
We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.
When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.
A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.
The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.
This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.
Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.
Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.
After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.
Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.
In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.
After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.
Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.
Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.
Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.
In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?
Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.
We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.
What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.
We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.
Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.
First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’
Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.
First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe, the world ready to let old baggage go.
The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.
Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it
‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.
The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.
While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.
When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.
With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.
It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.
We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.