To hip-hop with love, Fred Kayembe

2018-07-29 00:00
Fred Kayembe

Johannesburg - In a new short film available online, former Hype magazine editor Fred Kayembe takes a trip down memory lane to the times when hip-hop was driven by fierce intellect.

Kayemebe visits his past with hip hop providing the perfect backdrop.

Fred Kayembe has been a fixture on the local hip-hop scene for many years now. The enterprising creative was at one stage the editor of the once highly acclaimed Hype magazine, and has put his efforts into podcasts and more than a few famous interviews over the years.

He’s been at the centre of round table discussions about the culture, and has now taken a look back at his life in a 19-minute short film available on YouTube. It forms a part of his Thinking Out Loud visual exhibition, which is comprised of a documentary, a short film, an audio presentation, and a photography capsule in collaboration with the likes of rappers Muzi, Shane Eagle, Mashayabhuque KaMamba, and Spaceboy P.

(Photo: Supplied/City Press)

In Keys Open Doors, Kayembe reminisces about the magic of a well-constructed album that helps people to bond and find common ground. The film’s visuals are tastefully done and incorperate a touch of quirk with the use of amusing illustrated subtitles and images of him as a baby.

The soundtrack is cleverly incorporated and gives the style of this presentation the duality of a short doccie with a music video feel. He‘s compiled an array of sonic flavours, from Dead Prez to Frank Casino, which all seem to fit his gritty walk down memory lane. Most rappers would do well to shoot a music video that looks this good. In a scene where he visits his old high school, he muses about how hip-hop culture can break through social constructs and even transcend the teachings of conventional education.

That being said, the script is often a little verbose and perhaps vapid – a pitfall of many biopics. Including other voices, like from his parents or close friends, would have strengthened it. Luckily Kayembe cleverly inserts clips of moments like Kanye West’s “How Sway?” incident for a little break in his self-narration.

This short feature inspires hope and perhaps could be converted into a series of similar work. The strongest element of this is definitely this brother’s view of the culture, and hearing him recount memories of first experiencing Eminem.

If you’re a long-standing fan of hip-hop, you’ll get a warm and fuzzy feeling while watching this. Kayembe speaks about it all in such a romantic fashion, but is still driven by the fierce intellect that was once the primary push behind the culture.

Keys Open Doors: A Hip-Hop Memoir 
Director: Fred Kayembe

Available on YouTube

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