Kwesta’s 16th Bar

Hip-hop is one of the most influential and impactful genres in the history of human existence, yes, human existence because it extends beyond the parameters of a music genre; it is a culture. A culture that incorporates various elements, upheld by its foundations of consciousness and knowledge. This culture is inclusive of rap, DJing, dance, graffiti and many other elements that were well encapsulated and displayed in celebration of Kwesta DaKAR on the grand stage at Carnival City. Here, family, friends, and fans gathered for what was a remarkable evening of top-grade hip-hop spanning over seven hours to salute one of the greatest wordsmith of our time, Kwesta DaKAR.

Captured by Ntiko Mathaba

Novelist Ann Brashares once said that “coincidences are little clues to our destiny”. If this school of thought be true, then the success of Kwesta in this industry was written in the stars by divine design.

You’re probably asking yourself what I’m going on about, allow me to expand on my thought:

The birth of hip-hop dates back to 11 August 1973, fast-forward fifteen years from that, Senzo Vilakazi (Kwesta) was born. A gent that would grow to contribute immensely to the culture, making it accessible to his people and infiltrating spaces that were not synonymous with rap or hip-hop. And so by design and coincidence, it’s only fitting that he got to celebrate 16 years in the game on the same weekend that hip-hop turned 50.

I digressed, let’s return to the main event…

Captured by Ntokozo Mthimunye

The evening started off on the decks with a compilation of amapiano and house sounds which mutated to hip-hop as the evening took shape. With a lineup as long as my arm there was no moment of boredom or awkward silence, the curation of the program and its execution by hosts Moozlie, the multi-talented Robot Boii and Skhumba was truly exemplary.

One thing that was evident throughout the show was that Kwesta values people and they value him. The stage came alive act after act with emerging and established artists alike putting their best foot forward in celebration of this hip-hop maestro.

Captured by Ntokozo Mthimunye

After incredible sets, the moment we had all been waiting for, the man of the hour took to the stage and the crowd was beyond excited. In the first set, Kwesta displayed his skill and talent as an emcee, journeying through his discography. Members of the audience were rapping just as hard, they might as well have gotten on stage with him. It was a wholesome moment to behold and also one of reflection for Kwesta and he did not miss it. Throughout his performance, he would pause, and look around the room, marveling at the reception. In those moments it must have dawned on him that all those people had come out to support and celebrate him because he has had an impact in each and every one of their lives in some shape or form. As quickly as that moment came, it left, but not without fueling him as he delivered every track with great zeal. Although the fueling might have also been a result of him eating the decor, which no one can fault him for, the ama kip-kip or skopas (depending on which side of the tracks you’re from) on stage looked very fresh with their vibrant colours.

Kwesta also took the opportunity to put some songs back on rotation, with a catalogue as extensive as his, it’s inevitable that some tracks will be missed and one such track is Find a Way from his debut album. So if you too are guilty of not giving this song a good listen, here’s your moment of redemption:

One of the pillars of hip-hop is knowledge; knowledge of self, others, and the world. The evolution of Kwesta and the facets that make up his being are well documented in his music. Throughout his catalogue you find traces of his thoughts, ideas, conflicts, and concepts that make up the facets of his personhood. Rap exists in spaces that were not synonymous with the culture because of his welcoming and collaborative nature as evidenced by his features with Bucie, Musa, The Soil, and Amanda Black to name a few.

Kwesta has embodied the evolving culture of hip-hop in Mzantsi over the past 16 years, lifting as he rises, to be one of the front runners in African rap.

In hip-hop and rap, a verse is considered complete when it’s 16 bars long and Kwesta has completed his 16th bar in grand style. Regardless of how Kwesta chooses to play his hand in the future one thing is certain, these 16 bars will forever exist in the sheet music of the greater song of hip-hop.

Captured by Ntokozo Mthimunye