Music legend Hugh Masekela dared to tread where angels fear to this week when he took the time to share his experiences with younger musicians in an extraordinary unrehearsed session that left many green with envy.
While the media and celebrities were treated to an evening of Champagne-sipping at Fine Living by David Muirhead in Johannesburg, hip-hop and jazz collided in the intellectual conversation.
The evening’s agenda was the fusion of young and old, hip-hop and jazz, with true followers of both genres left understanding that the one could not exist without the other.
Hosted by jazz writer and author Percy Mabandu, the collaboration served as a teaser for the upcoming Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival scheduled for September 28 to 30, which is always a highlight on the social calendar.
In the audience, City Press saw Luthando “Loot Love” Shosha, T-Musicman’s Peter Tladi, publicist Melanie Ramjee, Slikour and Jazz musician Thandi Ntuli.
The wise Masekela enlightened the room with his laid-back, worldly knowledge and insights on culture. He spoke about how black people and jazz shaped the world as we know it.
“At a stage, everyone wanted to be a black American; it still happens today,” Masekela said, adding that he was saddened by some of the young children not being able to speak their mother tongue. He said this was the only place in the world where this was happening, where our heritage was seen as not cool and viewed as strange and barbaric. He applauded local rap musicians for daring to use indigenous languages and reflecting on issues that were happening in society. He said perhaps the collaboration and the discussion involving old and young could help instil the spirit that African is cool.
The plan for the collaboration was the idea of rapper Riky Rick, using his new wave approach to hip-hop production to remix some of Masekela’s biggest hits. The reverse will happen, with Masekela adding his flavour to some of Riky’s songs. Imagine a jazzy take of Boss Zonke or a Hugh track like The Boys Doing It with a few well-constructed verses on it. An original song by the two would also be interesting. A humble Riky took the audience back to a time when he resorted to playing and chopping tracks on a Music Production Controller as he couldn’t play an instrument.
“To have my name mentioned in the same breath as Uncle Hugh is something I never thought would happen,” Riky said.
Bra Hugh also spoke about the early days of hip-hop and how he liked the Sugar Hill Gang, pioneers of the culture from Sugar Hill in New York where he once stayed.
He even hinted at maybe rapping something on the collaboration with Riky. But all will be revealed at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival.
COOLABORATE Music legend Hugh Masekela with rapper Riky Rick