Johannesburg - The controversy stirred up by rapper AKA ahead of the first annual SA Hip-Hop Awards was to prove prophetic.
The heavily nominated Jealousy hit maker withdrew days before the event, citing the organisers’ lack of professionalism in giving artists no time to campaign for public votes.
As if to prove his point, the show started more than two hours late; there was no media room; the red carpet was a shambles and the seating arrangement was a grab-whatever-spot-you-can situation.
But the opening performance by Zuluboy and Bongo Riot had the audience on their feet and a comic MC called Pule – a white Skothane speaking fluent Sotho and Zulu – had everyone in stitches when he repeatedly poked fun at AKA.
Yet it soon became clear the awards lacked weight because of the absence of hip-hop pioneers Ready D, HHP, Zubz, Tuks, Slikour and Khuli Chana.
At least Pro was there, spotted at the door with Shugasmakx somewhere around midnight looking visibly lost.
ProVerb, who was nominated four times, stood up for the organisers, saying: “I think it’s a phenomenal concept they’ve come up with and put together.”
In response to AKA’s boycott stunt, he just shrugged and said: “Well there will always be controversy with everything.”
The rapper and Idols presenter arrived early and happily did interviews with anyone who asked.
Nominee L-Tido also defended the awards, saying: “People need to realise that it’s the first awards and they are going to make mistakes.
"Yes, there are things I’m not happy with personally, but with regards to the AKA saga, I’m not going to speak for another man.”
When contacted, DJ Bionic, however, did not mince his words: “I think AKA was wrong and his boycott was not justified.
"No one had the opportunity to campaign.
"Voting is not the only way for people to get accolades.
"He wasn’t confident enough to win without campaigning.”
Pioneering rapper Amu stirred things up further when, before presenting an award, he took a swipe at the presenters, who had just roller-skated on and off the stage, and barely said a word.
“Some of you nijwayela irap ngamasimba, into eniyenza lana.” (Some of you are taking rap music as sh*t, with what you are doing on stage.)
AKA scooped four awards, including best male artist and album of the year. He was booed by the crowd each time his name was called.
In response, he tweeted: “4 awards later.....NOW I understand why you made such a fuss about me not attending.”
Despite several comedy highlights, there were also plenty of awkward moments featuring an empty stage and a video playing meaninglessly.
Reason’s performance of Do It Like I Can perked the event right up. But then the controversy continued – this time about the lack of women nominated.
At one point, presenter Sipho Twala mumbled: “We need more ladies to produce more albums.”
The comment fell on deaf ears, generating absolutely no response from the audience.
Kanyi Mavi was the only female winner, taking the best female artist award.
Bionic wasn’t shy to discuss this issue afterwards, saying there are plenty of noteworthy female rappers – mentioning Nthabi, Nadia Nakai and Nadine – and saying that “there should be more female categories”.
He added that the use of the phrase “king of” for awards should be scrapped, but concluded: “Generally, I heard good things about the awards.”
He clearly wasn’t there to witness the chaos.
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