/ 12 September 2016

#CulturePop: Making noise and staying relevant with Fade and ‘Pound Cake’

Teyana Taylor's performance in the Fade music video unapologetically reeks of confrontation.
Teyana Taylor's performance in the Fade music video unapologetically reeks of confrontation.

Social media has created bizarre camps out of us: cynics, sycophants and observers AKA serial ReTweeters. If we aren’t all agreeing, then we’re all disagreeing. If we aren’t all sacrificial lambs at the alter of Yoncé or a proud generation of bbz, then we’re all expending our energy coming to blows with another anti-human, anti-womxn, anti-black establishment. The internet is also home to the troll. A modern-day hacker often parading about as some sort of critic. It all messes with our emotions from Monday morning to Monday morning.

It was on Tuesday when Mandoza went back to being newsworthy again. After a long eerie silence, a series of death hoaxes and being the butt of jokes because of his supposed poor English grammar – read the infamous “I’m unable to can” line – in a not-so-funny set of circumstances it was revealed that the cultural icon was ‘cancer-stricken’ and couldn’t see, one headline shouted.

Another header wailed that he desperately needed our prayers, but a related story beneath this one was captioned ‘Mandoza: I don’t sing rubbish’ and another one, ‘Mandoza proves that he’s still a major hit’. In the back of my mind, I remember the caricaturing and objectification of Brenda Fassie by the media, ahead of her death. How her, and possibly Mandoza’s lives are reduced to non-complex ‘where are they now’ non-narratives. And I lament how the Kwaito stalwart has already been declared some sort of has-been and is experiencing a certain death at the hands of media.

Something that Bill Cosby is set to fight (or deny) his knuckles raw for is being trialed and tried by the media. For taking liberties, the purveyor of Dr Huxtable, is to go on trial for aggravated indecent assault, but only next year, it was reported this week. He’s also apparently, going blind.

It’s sad about Bill. But it’s more alarming when you go back to the popular ‘Pound Cake’ speech he gave more than a decade ago at an NAACP commemoration event, that we continue to be shocked at his hypocritical ways. In the speech he throws the black American community under the bus with gross inaccuracies about what he views as the poor behaviour of the black lower class. Not unlike the kind I’ve seen come out of Lerato Tshabalala’s book, The Way I See It. Self-hate is embarrassing.

Our Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, had a peculiar lot on his plate this week alongside the rest of us. He must’ve been minding his own business, checking and refreshing his Instagram when a troll in the form of US gay-basher Pastor Steven Anderson crept out of nowhere. Spewing his hate here and misquoting there the brazen pastor couldn’t believe that little old South Africa with its little laws could impose a ban on him. A shoutout to Gigaba for handling that with style and grace.

It was, however, Wangechi Mutu and Teyana Taylor who truly delivered this week for me. I am usually late to the hype but I consider myself darn lucky to have stumbled upon a link to Kanye West’s music video for Fade. I should probably point out the explicit nature of the video for those who haven’t seen it but explicit is such a sorry bureaucratic word, and Teyana’s performance is anything but sorry. It’s powerhouse. It’s sexual. It reeks of confrontation.

Then, at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, the work of Wangechi Mutu had me spellbound and intimidated. Her 2013 short-film, The End of Eating Everything which features Santigold, speaks of overconsumption as the state of mind of contemporary culture. In the movie, the frame opens up on Santi as a hairy, serpentine mass whose thirst is insatiable and problematic. It was the most bewitching thing I saw. And maybe a warning against eating too much relevance.