Cape Town - The 14th annual Metro FM Awards and SA’s biggest musicians hit Durban this weekend. #Trending spoke to some of the leading nominees.
The Metro FM Awards are hugely important. They are powered by the biggest urban radio station in the country and the bulk of the winners are decided by the public through SMS votes. They also serve as a great indicator of who will win big at the South African Music Awards in April.
Hip-hop is ruling the roost this year with the likes of Cassper Nyovest, AKA, and K.O among the most nominated.
Nyovest had a great 2014, and quickly established himself alongside artists who had been in the game for years. He is the most nominated artist with seven nods.
When #Trending spoke to him, he had just returned from his first performance in Zimbabwe.
"It was crazy. It was not a festival, it was just me, and we were saying that if we can get 400 people then that’s cool. But from the airport, we had people taking pictures, and during sound check we had 1 000 people queuing outside. We pulled a crowd of 2 400 people, and the club could only hold 2 000."
Nyovest says he keeps watching videos from the visit: "I’m still surprised … I was just in awe. People knew all the words!"
Nyovest says he knew he was a star at a performance in Polokwane. "I was on after Mi Casa, and I mean Mi Casa is huge and they had just performed Jika so the crowd was hyped. And I decided to go onto stage with no intro and no music, and the people went wild, and that made me think that maybe I have a place in the game."
More than just a place, Nyovest’s debut album Tsholofelo went gold in a matter of weeks, and is chasing platinum status. He says the platinum edition of the album will be out next month, with some new music. Nyovest says although he would want to win all seven awards, he says Best HipHop is one he wants most. "It’s the most sought after."
Nyovest says of the dominance of hip-hop artists in the nominations and radio playlists across the country: "We had a great year and I was blessed to be a part of it, and be the biggest one. You’ve never had five hip-hop acts that were big at the same time. It was always Skwatta Kamp, HHP, Pitch Black Afro and the rest. I feel like we are in the golden era for hip-hop."
Record label and crew CashTime Life’s golden boy K.O will be landing in Durban next weekend to compete in five categories. One of the most sought-after accolades, the Song of the Year category, features hip-hop acts such as AKA (Congratulate), Nyovest (Doc Shebeleza and Phumakim) and DJ Dimplez (Yaya), from which K.O’s monster hit Caracara is very obviously missing.
It could easily be argued that this highly contested category is not a true reflection of the dominating tracks of 2014 with the omission of this smash track.
"Having been in the game for ten years. It is a humbling feeling to be still relevant … and being nominated among the best rappers at the moment is a big thing for me.
"As for the omission of Caracara from the list, one cannot be bitter. I just have to be grateful that I am part of the generation of hip-hop artists that are making a good statement for South African hip-hop."
The Skhanda rap hitmaker says he feels the criteria used to include a song such as Doc Shebeleza that came out at the same time as Caracara, but omit Caracara on the basis of it being an old song, was questionable.
K.O also said South African hip-hop is finally getting the recognition it deserves "because the masses can now identify with the lyrics, but most importantly because the music has moved from sounding like a 'typical Dr Dre or Puff Daddy' sound to sounding far more authentic and proudly South African".
"We have come a long way from the days SA rappers saw kwaito as the enemy to now paying homage and honouring kwaito in their music … it’s a great thing to be part of that movement."
Nyovest agrees with K.O’s sentiment but says the trendsetters are still misunderstood: "If you are setting trends, you will be criticised. When we put out Slyza Tsotsi, people were hating and didn’t like it because it was new and they didn’t understand that old school kwaito, mugwanti sound. It was like my ponytail, it was hated and by December all the kids had it."
Having been nominated in the key categories such as Best HipHop and Best Male Albums, K.O says it would be great if he at least wins one of the two categories as well as at least the Listener’s Choice Award.
While massively popular acts like Black Motion were expected nominees, the most surprising but refreshing inclusion in this year’s Metro nominations has got to be Beatenberg. The jazz pop trio from Cape Town, famous for hits like Pluto and Rafeal, have been nominated for no less than five awards, including Song of the Year and Best Group.
"We had absolutely no idea we would be nominated. It’s pretty crazy. It’s an awesome start to the year," Says Robin Brink, the band’s drummer.
Much of Beatenberg’s success is due to their ability to appeal to a diverse audience. It seems everybody is crazy about Beatenberg, and they do as many gigs in Johannesburg’s white suburbs as they do in Soweto. The guys all have backgrounds in jazz and say they listened to every type of music as children, which is perhaps why they aren’t the typecast rock or indie band that so much of South Africa’s white male demographic falls into.
Their collaboration with DJ Clock on Pluto skyrocketed them to fame, and their latest single Beauty Like A Tightened Bow has a video in the works.
Rob says they are looking most forward to chilling with their friend Nyovest at the Metro Awards.
"We would most like to win Best African Pop Album. It’s just an honour to be nominated in that category," he adds.
The band has sights to penetrate international markets soon, and who knows, their distinctly South African pop flavour might just have overseas listeners falling in love.
In addition to the musical spectacle, the award’s sponsors are also turning up. Beer backer Amstel will be taking a select number of guests on a VIP music celebration from the Metros to the SAMAs in April, which #Trending will be a part of as local music’s awards season kicks into gear.
An exciting addition to this year's Metro Awards will be a public viewing area where fans will get to experience the excitement of the annual awards by watching them live. The viewing area will be transformed into the official after party immediately after the awards ceremony.
Catch the awards at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Conference Centre in Durban on 28 February. Tickets for the public viewing area are available from Computicket.com and start at R200.
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