CITY PRESS: Did we really need AKA and Nadia Nakai's tour doccies?

2018-02-18 00:00
Nadia Nakai

Johannesburg - With US artists such as Chris Brown, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Demi Lovato releasing documentaries that purport to give us exclusive insights into their lives, South African artists have jumped on to the bandwagon and released their own. A docuseries may seem like a candid look into a star’s life, but it’s very controlled and shows only what the artist wants you to see. The local docuseries we’ve seen don’t run for longer than half an hour and provide scant insight into anything other than a high-end lifestyle. There’s very little about their art and substance makes way for aesthetics.


Super Mega’s Life on the Road shows him performing around the country, catching planes and driving with his butterfly doors up. I don’t mind a well-constructed flex, it’s necessary in hip-hop, but I’m not sure if one can be out here doing more flexing than creating. Of the four episodes, I only heard one track in the limited studio session scenes that sounded good. The rest was just the usual drone of auto tune paired with imagery that gives the whole doccie an extended Instagram story feel.


The problem with using your own catalogue as the backing music is that you run the risk of exposing just how limited it might actually be. A highlight is when Nadia recounts an interaction with a substandard make-up artist. That should be an indication of how bland this doccie is. In terms of how it’s made and whether or not there is a strong narrative, or at least a point, it fails dismally. I learnt nothing about Bragga. I want to know why her nickname is the same as the bad guy in the fourth The Fast and the Furious movie. That guy dies.


In these slightly longer doccies, you’ll see how the ATM movement is based in, uhm … Sandton. Also how local trap lords sip lean around the clock while wearing shirts with Polo horses that run the wrong way. You’ll encounter Emtee’s ridiculous twang, which makes him sound like a person from down south in America, maybe not so far from where the banjo/guitar duel with the hillbilly in Deliverance was filmed. I’ve seen more riveting viewing on those channels that show graphs and financial indicators. An unambitious attempt from Ambitiouz Entertainment.

Creating memorable performances every night strikes me as a difficult job. Maybe showing more than just a frame of sound checks would provide insight into this. These doccies shun the technical aspects of the art, which is incredibly odd, especially as local hip-hop is still on the rise. I don’t recall seeing one scene of an emcee chilling with their notepad and plotting their next rhyme scheme or constructing punch lines. Surely showing that might help a struggling emcee gain an understanding of the process.

I’m sure these doccies aid in gaining hype, but this can be done with more artistic integrity. Why not make a comprehensive documentary, as opposed to this ready-to-microwave approach to one of the more difficult genres of film? Shine a light on the people around the star: the sound engineer, the deejay. These heroes behind the scenes get very little recognition. Touring never once comes across as being stressful. Granted, the drama would invoke a reality TV show feel, but it would ramp up the entertainment value. A little more time should be taken to plot things out to provide a useful – and tasteful – view of the artist’s life. I urge the creators to forget the episodic method and compile more of the footage into a full-length feature. A bit more emphasis on the steps taken to create art over simply showcasing the cool. Then we could be discussing tickets sales and not just views.

Read more on:    aka  |  nadia nakai  |  emtee  |  music

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