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Cape Town Creative Lab: Indie African Artists Get The Platform

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Apple Music and PLATOON recently invited six unsigned African artists to Mothership Studios in Philadelphia in the Western Cape for a week-long Creative Lab.

The objective of The Lab is to provide artists with an opportunity to hone their skills, taking their musical vision to the next level, while giving them access to a global audience and an insight into what the music industry entails.

At the Cape Town Creative Lab (CTCL), each performer recorded a new single which will be released to an international audience starting this month. These songs were produced in a world-class recording facility and the artists were given access to the finest creative talent including photographers, video directors and stylists – to create all of the marketing assets they would need to support their release.

The CTCL featured daily mentoring sessions with some leading music industry figures. These included legendary producer Nile Rodgers; award-winning songwriter John Ryan (Maroon 5/One Direction/Charlie Puth), Apple Music Up Next artist Mr Eazi; Beats 1’s Kat Wong and Ebro Darden; Alec Boateng (head of A&R Atlantic Records UK); Alex Boateng (head of A&R Island Records UK); Aton Ben-Horin (global Vice President A&R – Warner Music Group); Taponeswa Mavunga (head of Publicity Columbia Records UK), Merck Mercuriadis (Hipgnosis Music) and Kwame Kwaten (Artist Manager and Vice Chairman Music Managers Forum).

The artists – three from South Africa and three from Zimbabwe – also took part in photoshoots, a performance video shoot, artist interviews, whiteboard sessions and media training. The end result was a life changing experience. The artists all left the CTCL with a great new single, fantastic media packs and an increased understanding on how the music industry works.

The six artists are:

  • Shungudzo is a hugely talented singer and songwriter from Zimbabwe. She has written for the likes of Little Mix, Chainsmokers and Jessie Ware and was featured on the latest 50 Shades soundtrack. Her debut single Long Live the Billionaire was featured as Zane Lowe’s World Record at the end of 2017. She was thrilled with the Lab experience and her fellow participants: “I’ve never met so many people who I inherently trust and want to see succeed, solely so the world can experience their beauty and honesty.”

 

  • Bantu is a talented Zimbabwean producer, songwriter and artist. He has written and produced for some of the world’s biggest artists including Jason Derulo, Maroon 5, J Balvin, Camilla Cabello, Tove Styrke, Rita Ora, Lauv and Chris Brown. His single with Jonas Blue and Mr Eazi is due for release on Virgin Records in the coming months: “There’s nothing like being surrounded by talented like-minded people and the Lab week was truly a dream come true. I left with so much insight, inspiration and knowledge.”

Photo Credit: Wayne Reiche

  • Dope Saint Jude is an exciting hip-hop artist from the Cape Flats. She is credited as “transforming South African hip-hop by challenging a genre which was predominantly male and heteronormative”. She has already been featured in Vogue, i-D, Noisey, Fader, Elle, Marie Clare and Okay Africa and will be performing at Afropunk later this year. “The CTCL has been transformative for me, not only as an artist, but as a human being. I have learnt things about my own creativity that have surprised me. It was also inspiring to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of artists.”

Photo by Wayne Reiche

  • Dr Chaii is Grammy-nominated Zimbabwean record producer, songwriter and now artist. His producer credits include Jason Derulo, Sean Paul, Pitbull, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Alex Aiono. “The Lab week has been mind-blowing. It was about making great music with great people and leaving with great friends.”
Dr Chaii - Press Pic- Photo by Wayne Reiche

Dr Chaii – Press Pic- Photo by Wayne Reiche

  • Kaien Cruz is a 19-year-old Kwa-Zulu Natal based singer-songwriter who emerged from the Durban-based collective Wolfpack. She has featured as a guest vocalist on numerous local hit tracks with the likes of Nasty C, Tellaman, Sketchy Bongo, Aewon Wolf and Easy Freak. “I’ve learnt more this Lab week than I have in the past two years. I never expected to make connections and friends like this and I can’t wait for what’s to come.”

Dr Chaii – Press Pic- Photo by Wayne Reiche

Sipho the Gift is a talented young MC and producer from Kimberley in the Northern Cape. He was featured as Apple Music’s New Artist Spotlight in February this year and has appeared in Complex magazine and Pigeon & Plane’s list of upcoming rappers to watch from outside America. “It has been a great exposure to what it means to be a successful independent artist. I also feel that the connections and collaborations that have happened here will last a very long time.”

Apple Music will release one single a week from each of the six artists starting on Friday, August 31.

  • Shungudzo Paper – Friday 31 August
  • Sipho the Gift Hold Up – Friday 7 September
  • Dope Saint Jude Girl Like – Friday 14 September
  • Dr Chaii Bongo – Friday 21 September
  • Kaien Cruz Dangerous – Friday 28 September
  • Bantu Remedy – Friday 5 October

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Netflix

Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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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.

THE ENDING

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.

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Netflix

First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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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.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

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.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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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.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

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.

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