Its quite difficult for me to approach writing a story for someone who takes pride in writing about his life so much and it’s again more difficult to pen down a story about someone so exceedingly self-aware of his position and level within our current hip hop culture. Im talking about a kind of self awareness that delivers articulate lectures and dialogues that clearly shape his approach to music, and is further able to dissect his works in connection to previous and current cultural subjective topics. To be frank, Shane Eagle is a super-conscious individual that hand crafts all that he is doing which is ultimately why he is constantly met with high applause and praises.
For days now I’ve been searching for different sources of inspiration, even went to the extant of disappearing from my peers for a while, hoping that I would get inspired to write some “extraordinary” piece of Shane literature, but sadly that didn’t work for me. Growing up, I’ve always been an acknowledged introvert that found delight in the underdog circumstances, perhaps my overlooked persona developed an attraction towards those that I could relate to such as Batman (not the billionaire Bruce Wayne persona though…) who has no superpowers but is arguably one of the top most recognized super heroes of our time right? And this is where Shane fits in, his achievements in the past year have been nothing but remarkable – the countless ways he has impacted and continues to influence this hip hop culture of ours I’ve proudly grown up on – seems to be a mission I feel strongly to support and embrace. And so on this predestined Sunday morning, literally hours before this cover story was to be uploaded, the inspired scripts have finally come gushing out of me after realizing that I needed not to witness a white dove sitting on my bedroom window to find an inspired approach to write but because I had already written it in my sub conscious. All along I had been witnessing an underdog become a superstar right in front of my eyes. So I quickly jumped out of bed, grabbed my iPhone and wildly started typing away on the Notes app we journalistic know too well– while bumping that new ‘YE’ album for ambiance of course…
Shane Eagle is not this hip hop prodigy or god that people think he is – oh well at least I think that he doesn’t think that way of himself either. I think Shane is purely a messenger for the people, a hip hop messiah anointed to free the game from its bondage(s). I think that Shane is part of a greater scheme and that he is playing his supportive part within a larger movement the best way he knows how. Maybe it’s because of his authenticity, resilience and support structures around/beneath him that makes me see him this way. Look, he doesn’t have to convince me that he’s at the forefront of something grand– he knows we can see it and has quite a hearty respect for those that understand his dissimilarity from the rest. In the same seam, I don’t feel the need to justify my approval for his influence with hip hop because I feel it. So go ahead and try to box him into some common journalistic criticism and if you’re able to, please enlighten me because I could only criticize myself for not understanding him during his earlier days. His story really tells itself, and I’m simply just typing out my honest truths about him, and perhaps for my mind only…
With that said, as a build-up to the upcoming Yellow Tour, I briefly interviewed Shane Eagle, Kulture Kollektive Director, Jay Kayembe and visual artist Masonwabe who is also known as the 21st Century Blackman for you to enjoy and further understand why they all have come together to bring the game something never seen nor experienced before.
Okay before we get into the convo let me start by expressing myself… The first day I ever spent time with Shane I vaguely remember was early 2016 when I had my very first shoot for my first HYPE mag as editor. It was the only day I would spend some time with him prior to the artistic evolution he would soon after go through. We were in my home city and the day consisted of a max 2/3 hour shoot in one location conducted by, what I always recall, an orgy of photographers who have now become close friends. Anyways when Shane came through for his slot, he wasted no time being cooperative with the whole proceedings – I mean a quick peek at his history and you can catch that this may be one of the most humble SA hip hop acts in the game at the moment and I’m not even exaggerating, I’m typing facts straight from my head to you… Fam I swear to you 3/4 years ago I never thought I would be placing Shane amongst the highest spots of hip hop influence in my life today, especially considering the “mainstream” introductory platform he stems from. But one has to admit that his bravado character (which was the side that I initially didn’t mess with) grows on you at the same rate as he grows himself plus he truly seems like a guy that has real plans to create a better world not only for himself but those willing to follow him. A better world for those willing to purely trust him because what is the purpose of trust if it is not practised amongst our beloved selfs? Over the past few years we have all witnessed Shane become the guy that clearly has the torch in his possession at the moment, a torched proclaimed to help those that seem lost within themselves or external influences. I actually believe Shane’s light will guide us through the bullshit (quote me). I believe the game truly needs Shane (quote me again) I imagine that constantly splitting your attention between yourself, the people & mainstream media is not an easy act, but when you reach a level where you’re so conscious of your task in this uncertain world, it at-least makes it seem easier. I again have realized that being content with who & how he serves the game acts as an advantage for Shane and his works because him having gone through a transcendence over the years, highlights his entire artistic ethos if you look closely… Because we probably all can relate by confessing that we’ve all, at some time in our lives, been exposed to the wraths and negatives found in our developing culture. Wraths and negatives that expose the difficulties the majority of young artists go through to feed their aspirations & build up their “hype”. So best believe that it actually does feel… good… to see the results of inherited prosecuted ambition shine in a positive manner through seeing Shane Eagle as a physical embodiment of the light at the end of the tunnel we all hope for.
…And Shane, here at HYPE we see you pushing our hip hop culture forward and breaking down all walls that stand in your way. Shane today you are at the top of hip hop in South Africa and nobody can deny it. So much has happened over the years, the challenges, breakthroughs and victories. How have you still been able to keep yourself composed through it all, especially when one has witnessed artists switch up once they’ve achieved greatness? When you are a real person who is true to themselves in every situation, and the people around you are real, it’s easy to keep a level head regardless of the constant change happening around you…
So how did it feel then when you heard your name being called out for that Best Hip Hop album award? I imagine you were covered by a garment of pure graciousness when you walked on the stage, well it looked that way at least in my head. Before the award show I had mixed emotions about it, considering the politics surrounding whether awards are given to those who deserve it or those who pay for it. Every goal I have set for myself and my future, I have already visualized in my head so when it happens it feels the way it should. I guess I feel blessed to see Yellow get the recognition it deserves.
Word. Now when everyone in the game starts dropping the words “SA Hip Hop Is In Good Hands” attached with an image of you holding that trophy, what does that do to you? I try not to get too invested in people’s opinion of me and my music. I’m always gonna do my thing and be the person I know I am regardless of your opinion of me. If you recognize that quality in me, that’s cool , if you don’t, that’s cool too. I try not to let the opinion of others define me, I define me.
You prophesied that you would drop the best hip hop album which ‘Yellow’ is, why do you think the album was such a huge success? You must have filled up some void in the game… Because that shit is a classic my n*gga…
The ‘Yellow Tour’ is coming up and you’ve linked up with Kulture Kollektive. What makes this partnership a special one? I’m all about people with new ideas and concepts, and who are innovative. I think kulture represents that outside of the music. So partnering with them on the tour was the perfect way to bring those ideas to life.
You did mention that fans would be hearing out some new music during the tour and I like how you expressed that you and your team are basically from a different world and that you’re hear to take over the world. You working on a new album? I’m working on something special at the moment to tie the tour and the album together. I’m also working on new music, so fans might be able to hear some new shit on tour.
I’m not really a controversy seeker but I am curious on whether you did notice DJ Speedsta series of tweets that named dropped you. If you did what was your opinion on that but if you didn’t what’s your opinion artistic growth being a problem in between artistic relationships? There’s never been negative energy between Speedsta and I prior to his tweets. So I was a bit confused but I didn’t think it was necessary to respond because he apologised shortly after, it’s just crazy to see what people would say for clout and a few retweets.
Fan Support has always been an important part of an artists journey. What message of gratitude can you share to all your fans that have supported you all these years? My fans love and support me because of the music, and the only way I can show them how much I appreciate them is to keep giving them the best music I possibly can.
And it’s quite true that an artist cannot do things fully on his own and so to trust Shane Eagle means that you’ve got to trust the people around him that get him to these high levels. After recently announcing the ‘Yellow Tour’ towards a huge gathering of kids that came through to engage in Shane’s world within the newly established Kulture gallery that hosted a ‘Yellow Tour Pop-Up’ experience, we got to see the collaborative partnerships between Eagle Entertainment & Kulture Kollektive, not forgetting the 21st Century Blackman (Masonwabe Ntloko) with the arts. The people that Shane works with is testament to the authenticity that has been presented throughout his career. So of course not involving stories both from Kulture Kollektive & Masonwabe into this brief piece wouldn’t have made sense to me.
“I’m working on something special at the moment to tie the tour and the album together. I’m also working on new music, so fans might be able to hear some new shit on tour” – SHANE EAGLE
Its no secret that Kulture Kollektive has become one of the most innovative and creative entities in the game right now and having them being apart of Shane’s Yellow tour just makes perfect sense. So of course I had to talk to my big bro Jay Kayembe, who is the Director of Kulture to find out a little bit more about what Kulture is really all about and why their relationship with Shane Eagle just seems perfect.
How did Kulture Kollektive come to exist? Kulture Kollektive is made up of a number of fixed and rotating creatives and is simply a creative, collaborative platform within urban street culture that exist mainly in the curatorship space and was formed to breach the gap and help solidify the evolution of cultural appeal in production, experiential and the arts. One of our main objectives is to break through or introduce/reintroduce artists and creatives alike to the masses as well as the corporate, commercial stand point without compromising the integrity of the culture, creative, the artist or a brand.
So since Kulture launched in 2016, how much has the entity grown? Growth is a relative concept, you can say the growth in influence is gradually proportional to each project we have put out – most importantly we have manage to shift cultural experiences and give new life to concepts while working with individuals and corporate brands. In 2018 it is less about how many people you can reach at a very fast pace and more about how many people you can reach at the core of the art while striking a balance between organic growth and the interest of a commercial corporate market.
Okay, then what would you say are the core elements that make Kulture Kollektive what it is today? We have to date put out collaborative culture – shifting properties and experiences within Fashion, Music & Art. Not forgetting to mention that we curate every production aspect of everything we put out from designing stage builds to developing creative treatments and even writing and producing content, much like the documentary we put out as an exclusive on Channel O with Frank Casino and Castle Lite last year, namely ‘FROM FRANK: A STORY BY KULTURE’
The newly established Kulture gallery really wasted no time proclaiming creative dominance. The most recent highlight has been the collaboration for Shane Eagle’s Yellow Tour, how did that come about? The term ‘Creative dominance’ is such a pressure filled statement but to answer the question we realised that putting out 1 or 2 huge collaborative projects a year was not going to cater to the escalating stream of artist and creatives bubbling or breaking through that we wanted to work with and the artist/creatives we were getting requests from so we thought to create a space where we could put out a project at least once or twice a month in a medium to small scale. The Kulture gallery or the Kulture pop up gallery concept space which is situated 155 Smit St & De Beer St, Johannesburg, 2001 in Braamfontien is not only a space we use to collaborate with artist/creatives but also brand related launches or pop ups depending on if the project fits the gallery space narrative. Shane Eagle and the Yellow tour project came about quite authentically from previous collaborations we did last year involved a number of featured artist and Shane being one of the artist featured. The interest to work on a project together was instinctively mutual, Shane being an artist that is conceptually inclined made him an exciting fit for us to collaborate with.
So what makes this Yellow Tour collab make so much sense from a Kulture point of view? We are about pushing boundaries and redefining the known, creating a world of experiences to audiences that are expectedly familiar with properties of what a concert experience would normally feel like and then reimagining that experience to then bring to life a world of infinite possibilities unimaginable but yet doable. It is about the creative effort we are willing to put into our craft and Shane Eagles ‘Yellow’ – moon themed body of work not only provides the capsule for pushing the boundaries in regards to the tour experience but also provides an opportunity for us to produce something amazing for each tour date. The journey is important, that is why it is not just the tour we collaborated on with Eagle Entertainment but also put together a Yellow pop up concept store in each city we visit where tour merchandise can be purchased, meet and greets can take place prior to the actual tour arrivals in each city. The ticket to the tour entrance is a hard copy, exclusive, branded tour cd. Once having purchased your ticket you can pick up your cd at a pop up store in your city prior to the concert – In doing so we also kept to our core function and collaborated with a extremely talented illustrator ’21stcenturyblackman’ by Masonwabe Ntloko to art direct custom made art pieces of every single track on the album yellow that fans are able to purchase at the yellow pop up stores which ofcourse also lead to the artist designing the art work for Hypemagazine for the Shane Eagle issue.
There’s obviously more Kulture experiences on the way however can you hint what else is in store for the remainder of the year? We have something coming up of a larger scale aside from the monthly projects we have been putting out at the gallery of late, I suppose all will unfold in due time but for now we are solely focused on the galley projects per month and looking forward to the artist, creatives and brands we are most fortune to work with and really create unique experiences.To get more information on what we putting out people can get us on @kulturekollektive on IG and facebook, KultureZA on twitter.
“One of our main objectives is to break through or introduce/reintroduce artists and creatives alike to the masses” -KULTURE KOLLEKTIVE
The 21st Century Blackman (Masonwabe Ntloko)
Masonwabe is a name I only got introduced to after seeing the amazing work he has done for Shane’s Yellow Tour build-up and I’ll have to admit I was surprised that I had not know about him. When the opportunity came to get to know the 21st Century Blackman, I took it with both hands which found him talking about how it all started out for him.
How did you get into the art that you do? I’ve always been that kid that was good at drawing so I’ve always known from a young age that I would grow up to be an artist of some sorts, so the more I grew the more I explored with different mediums my thing for the longest time was pencil then when I got into varsity for my first year I got introduced to design and the softwares they use (photoshop, illustrator etc) , obviously when I started I was doing what everyone else was doing but I search and found my own way of designing with some help from my first year lecturer Mr Nii Bochway who thought me that design needs to have meaning and I chose culture.
How would you describe your work it seems quite deep? My work is basically a visual expression and interpretation of all that’s in my head and how I see the world. For me art and design must have meaning and should be used as a medium to tell stories of one’s passion be it culture or music even sensitive subjects like politics and love.
Lets talk about what inspires you to do what you do, what makes you get up every morning to create your work? To be honest its firstly the love of what I do, there’s a say that says “give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed by the energy that comes out of you” that’s the rule I live by. Secondly, I am the person I am today because my mom sacrificed so much for me and my siblings and she also allowed us to dream. I would love to help that woman financially because I know she’s done so much for us.
“I’m always gonna do my thing and be the person I know I am regardless of your opinion of me” – SHANE EAGLE
Would you say illustrators/visual artist are important in Hip-Hop, Breakdown the connection? Yes, we are very important to Hip-Hop now more than ever. Think about it everywhere you go you see design be it in food packaging or bill boards design is in everything you touch which means branding and presentation is very important for any brand, right? So, if this this is true that means every artist needs to be branded according to their sound or look because branding is meant to attract people. In South Africa this caught on late and rappers and labels still don’t see the value of having in-house art directors and most of those who do settle for less only because most don’t really see the importance of art direction because I still hear art directors complain about not getting paid. Think about it if your favorite albums didn’t have covers how would you be able to differentiate them and how would the label market them because things like art covers are also part of songs/album media role out.
How did the linkup between you, Shane Eagle and Kulture happen and what has your role been during this collaboration? Jay Kayembe put me on honestly speaking, He reached out to me towards the end of last year and we worked together with me providing the art direction under his creative direction for the From Frank: A story by Kulture and I guess we worked well together so he decided to call me for this one also. My job with the tour is to provide art direction which means I’m the one who designs all the art works you’ve seen so far including the Hype Magazine cover and I will also be responsible for the works that will be screened on tour.
What are your future plans? Well right now my plans are to finish school I dropped out last year but now I’m back at school to finish up. I’m working on my own design company which will focus on different things such as fashion, music and design but I want to do it differently from what you’ve seen out there. I also want to be the minister of arts and culture hahaha, but if not, that then have a hand in the department of arts and culture because I feel like there is a huge disconnect between the department and us young artists we are catered for by alcohol companies more than the department and problems like that can be solved by fellow artist who understand the climate of the world of art and design.
Thoughts & Verbalz By ROO
Visualz Courtesy Of Eagle Entertainment, Kulture Kollektive & Masonwabe