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INTERVIEW – Tshego Dishes On ‘Pink Panther’

Organic. Melodic. High Quality. Musical

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Now that Tshego’s long awaited Pink Panther album finally has a release date, everything has fresh hues of pink all over.

It’s quite a definitive season for the singer, who recently inked a record deal with Universal Music.

Although the album, which has kept the same title despite its long and adventurous journey to the market, has been a long time coming, the King Monada feature on the first single was a dope blindside.

A whole King Monada, on a Tshego song. You love to see it.

“I never want to be boxed in. I always tell my fans not think they can go for more No Ties on the album. If that’s what you are expecting, you will be sadly mistaken!”

Sonically, the artists couldn’t be further from each other. But, says Tshego, the flow engineered itself perfectly. “It was a very clean and organic process”, he tells QuenchSA, detailing tales of how he reached out to the Malwede hitmaker.

He’s thrilled about the critical applause and buzz around No Ties, which not only sparked the heaviest trend for the Garden hitmaker, but has also produced his best charting single debut to date. “It feels like, finally, people get it. It’s not that they didn’t get it before, but it feels like it’s finally time”, he says of the crit.

You are known for blending different flavours. Do you think No Ties finally captures your sound?

I feel like No Ties captures one piece of it, you know? I never want to be boxed in. I always tell my fans not think they can go for more No Ties on the album. If that’s what you are expecting, you will be sadly mistaken! (Laughs) In terms of the sound, I haven’t even placed it myself, but I know there are certain things you’ll be able to identify my sound with.

My sound is very musical, high quality and melodic. I’m very melodic and energy driven. So that’s my sound, but to find a genre for it… I haven’t been able to do that yet because I love moving in between as many genres as I can.

I read somewhere that you are the Prince of RnB. I was thinking RnB? Okay? I wouldn’t think of your sound as just RnB…

There are so many guys in South Africa right now who are proper RnB singers, so to call me the Prince of RnB when I’m not even trying to do that is a big compliment! I accept it. But, it’s definitely not what I’m trying to be known as because I’m just not putting a title on myself.

How did the collaboration with King Monada come about?

Very easily man, Instagram! His song Malwede had been out for a little bit and he was trending around that time. My mom knew about it. I was travelling to Mafikeng that day. I sent him a DM. When I got home, I told my mom. I told her I’d just DM’ed this guy, hopefully we can do a song together. Then he DM’ed me that night and I was like ‘yo, mom, he actually DM’ed me back!’ (Laughs). I actually posted it on my Insta Story the day he FaceTimed me and sent me his verse on Whatsapp. It was a very clean, organic process. He’s a very, very humble guy.

It’s a collaboration most didn’t see coming. The individual sounds couldn’t be further apart, but you made it make so much sense. Did you have a specific vision for his verses before hitting him up?

Nooo! Literally I said ‘bro, listen here’s the song. This is my hook. I want you to be here, and here, and here. If you want to give me a verse, it’s up to you. Feel it, it’s up to you.’ He sent it back with that and I was like, perfect! End it right there, no changes.

How did you decide on this being the first single?

I took it to a lot of labels, like four of five songs to a lot of indie labels, distributors, to like… literal A&R people and my friends. I was sending them a pack of five (songs) and they would always come back with ‘this one has to be the first single! These three over here are crazy, but this one is definitely the one.’ It’s the one that’s always come back as being the one.

Tell us a bit more about your departure from Family Tree. Is everything okay there?

Everything is Okay, man. It’s just business wise, the way I like to deal with things is on terms. It’s just like when you sign a contract with whatever company, there’s a term there. Whether it’s a year, 12 months, 6 months, you have a term. You are expected to do this and you are expecting x amounts back. That’s the way I like to live my life and with Family Tree, it was just another one of those terms. I had to give this an x amount of my years and I when I reached the cap, I had to find a better situation and grow.

That’s what happened. I reached my cap. Family Tree helped me a lot in terms of the touring. In terms of touring, that’s where Family Tree really catapulted me. Without Family Tree, I wouldn’t have been where I am now in terms of my performances and my energy on stage. But yeah, it was just time, business wise. Family Tree was signing into Universal and I was getting interest from Universal directly. I had been having conversations with them three years prior to that, so when that happened I thought man, let me just sign direct.

Why so much pink? It’s everywhere. All the time! 

I’m big on organic. That’s another one of those things that happened organically. It first happened on Hennessy. One of the outfits had the pink VANS with the teal in it. Then I had on pink shirts, a pink GANG shirt and a pink cap. People instantly reacted to that and kept coming back to me like, ‘yo, that outfit was sick.’ So I tried it again on Garden. Pink dog, pink Limousine, pink outfit, pink everything, which was even crazier.

It became cleat that it gets a reaction from people. When you put the marketing and branding together you understand that to build a brand, you have to market it. If this pink is working well as a marking tool to build the brand, why not? It’s gold. I couldn’t leave it alone. But, at the same time, it’s not like I don’t like pink.

Why the title ‘Pink Panther‘?

It’s because me and Gemini (Major) had a similar sounding album title. I saw him post it on Twitter and I immediately called and asked him what the hell!? Bra, don’t you know my album is titled blah, blah blah, and he’s like, ‘Ja, bra but it’s not the same!’ I was on loud speaker and Les happened to be in the room and he was like relax man, just call yours Pink Panther, trust me. (Laughs) I was like you… are… actually… right!

Tell us everything we need to know about the Pink Panther album? 

The features are people whom I consider friends. Nothing was forced or planned. In fact, none of the features was in studio with the features, except Focalistic. That wasn’t even a full studio session. I just made the beat there and put the melody down. He went home and sent me his verse back. It was that comfortable, where I could be just like ‘Yo, Riky I got something. Listen to it and tell me how you feel about.’ He hit me back, he felt great. He put down a verse and sent it back to me. Thabsie, same thing. She’s always told me we have to work. So as soon as I thought I needed a female artist, Thabsie was the first one I went to. Well, Rowlene and Thabsie.

Kwesta… I remember Durban July weekend. I was like ‘Yo, Kwesta, I’ve handed in the label copy. I need you on this song. He was just like ‘Bro, I don’t even have to listen to the beat, I’ll give you the answer now. Yes!’ The Tuesday after he returned from the Durban July, I had my verse done. Same with Thabsie, that same Tuesday, done. Who else… Tellaman, Fokalistic, Frank Casino…

Half of it is features and half is just me. I wanted to give you enough of me. I know I’ve killed my fans with the features man! I think every single I’ve dropped, except Dem Ah Wind, which was a street anthem, was feature heavy, So that’s it – it’s an intimate vibe. You know with me, everything is always high energy, quality, melody, music and organic.

Is there any song you can’t wait for your fans to hear on the album?

Yeah, but I feel like I will put pressure on it if I say it now. There’s a lot… I want them to hear the whole album. I can’t wait…

And it’s a hotly anticipated one. Part of that is how loooong we’ve had to wait for it. Are you nervous about delivering to satiate expectations?

I think anyone would. It’s the number one thought when I go to sleep and when I wake up. Now that the album is in, I’m having very critical thoughts. It’s like yo, eish! That verse, I was rushing on that verse. Maybe I was talking nonsense on that one (laughs). It’s a lot of critical things but I understand that now it’s up to God. Whatever is gonna happen, I put in the hard work, the time and I’ve done everything that I could do as Tshego. Now it’s in the next phase of life and God is going to let what ever is meant to happen, happen.

You haven’t been in the news for any weird scandals, or tweeting trash, or anything like that…

Nah… The thing is, you guys miss it. I could name a couple, but I won’t. There’s been situations where I had to leave Twitter for months. There were situations where people affiliated to me had to close their accounts because it got hectic. But this is like five years ago. There’s been certain personalities on Twitter, whether it’s DJs, who have tried to come at me. But my character… I just let things die. I won’t entertain it, especially on social media. I’m not gonna tag you, if you’ve tagged me. I’m not reply. I might subtweet…

That’s what I’m getting at… are you intentionally trying to maintain a clean brand or is it a reflection of your authentic character?

No, it’s really how I am bro. I’m a very loud guy! I’m loud, proud and stubborn. I’ve had, in the past, some anger issues. People don’t know that side of me because it only comes out in very serious situations. That’s why I don’t wanna bullshit. When you wanna talk, let’s talk. There shouldn’t be games.

A lot of artists do leverage the drama to promote what they are selling. Are you just gonna allow just the music to do all the talking?

Not just that, because I’m also trying to venture into other things. Like fashion. I wanna get into the music business in the corporate side. Like music libraries, the publishing side of the business. I also wanna score for movies. So I wanna get into a lot of things. Now I want to focus on the merch next. The Album’s been handed in and taken care of. We are doing the PR runs, that’s been taken care of.

Besides you getting angry from time to time, what else will surprise your fans about you?

I’m a really sweet, humble guy. I can be very soft spoken and I can match your energy.

What can they expect?

They can expect the next level of myself in the industry. Whatever genre that you put me under, expect the next level of it.

Pink Panther premieres August 30th.

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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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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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