Melissa JavanMany female rappers are making a name for themselves in the male dominated hip hop industry. In celebration of Heritage Month, journalist Melissa Javan spoke to two female artists. Ms Supa and Yugen Blakrok shared their journeys as rappers in a question and answer session.Growing up Ms Supa listened to rappers like Foxy Brown, who made her realise that women can be emcees too. (Image supplied)Where did you grew up?Yugen Blakrok: I grew up in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape.Ms Supa: I hail from Benoni.How long have you been in the hip hop industry?Yugen Blakrok: I started rapping in the early 2000s.Ms Supa: I started rapping in 1996. I only actively pursued it from 2003, after I moved to Pretoria.What made you decide to become a rapper [emcee]?Yugen Blakrok: The love for poetry and language. Also, I had two left feet and I realised I’d never make it break-dancing.Ms Supa: I had always loved rap music. I did not even consider it a possibility that females could do it. I had an ‘aha moment’ when I heard a song by Foxy Brown called Get You Home on radio. My first thought then was: “Oh, girls can do it too.”Insert music video of Yugen Blakrok.What is your culture, and how do you express or showcase it within your craft?Yugen Blakrok: I’m Xhosa. My culture and heritage is embedded in the lyrics. The influence of where I was born, the traditions I’ve learnt and the rhythm in my native tongue permeates everything I do, in and out of the creative spectrum.Ms Supa: I am a Zulu girl. My punchlines and metaphors are mostly South African. I talk about things that a South African would understand.Insert music video of Ms Supa.Do you, as a woman in the hip hop industry, feel equal to the men?Yugen Blakrok: When it comes to skills, yes I do.Ms Supa: I think women throughout history have always had a hard time getting recognition for a job well done or being taken seriously. This happens in corporate, in the home and definitely in the hip hop industry. Because the founders of hip hop were male, so women had to work twice as hard to prove they are just as good. We are not allowed to drop the ball. So we are equal in skill, but the market is yet to see us in the same light.Do you get the question “what’s it like being a woman emcee” a lot?Yugen Blakrok: Now, definitely not as much as I used to.Ms Supa: Yes – a lot, especially during Women’s Month.How do you feel about that question?Yugen Blakrok: I find it hard to engage with and a bit dull. There are far more interesting questions one could ask.Ms Supa: I have been in the industry for over a decade. So for me that question gets tired because it shows the lack of research an interviewer did on you before an interview. There are so many other facets of my music and being that don’t get explored and shown to the public that they also have the view that female rappers are still feeling marginalised.I would also love to have an interview with AKA for example and ask him ‘What is it like being a male rapper’ and see if he humours me with a solid answer.The question lacks any depth or respect for the artist.Yugen Blakrok says her hip hop influences include Wu-Tang Clan, The Fugees, Lauren Hill, Nas and Organized Konfushion. (Image supplied)What keeps you motivated or inspired?Yugen Blakrok: My people at Iapetus Records always push me to do more. I’m inspired by my sisters, my friends and opportunities that show themselves right when they’re needed. It’s not always easy staying motivated so I often go out of my way to find things that will create that spark. Good friendships are the best.Ms Supa: Music and my family.What is your most memorable moment as an emcee?Yugen Blakrok: I have a few – rapping for Chuck D when Public Enemy were in South Africa, opening for Sage Francis, and playing at Hip Hop Kemp this year.Ms Supa: It definitely has to be [that I was the first woman emcee on] hip hop magazine Hype’s cover. It really set the tone and made my career memorable to others. I had the pleasure of featuring on HHP’s Dumela album on a song called Mmago Rrago. I have also shared the stage and songs with some great artists in South Africa such as Amu, Ramesh, Reason, Black Lez and many others.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using SouthAfrica.info material
“We call on municipalities to develop energy strategies in the coming year so that South Africa can proudly showcase many more eligible cities taking part in next year’s EHCC.” SAinfo reporter 13 August 2013 South Africa’s cities have been challenged to demonstrate their commitment to combating climate change by participating in the international Earth Hour City Challenge. The competition, which recognizes and rewards cities for their long-term efforts to combat climate change, was launched nationally by conservation group WWF South Africa last week. Cities will have until October to register their data on the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR), a globally recognised carbon reporting platform managed by the International Council for Local Enviromental Initiatives (ICLEI), one of the challenge’s partners. Cities will also be required to submit urban development plans for transport, energy, building and food systems as part of the competition. Strategies will be evaluated by an international jury and the winning city will be announced in March 2014. Several South African cities are eligible to participate in the competition – including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and East London – based on the energy targets they have committed to. Durban has already signed up to participate in the challenge. “eThekwini Municipality has taken a concerted stance on the fight against climate change and has been reporting its greenhouse gas emissions and accompanying mitigation and adaptation plans on the cCCR for a number of years,” energy unit head Derek Morgan said in a statement this week. Last year was the first edition of the competition, with 66 cities around the world participating and Vancouver winning the Global Earth Hour Capital title. “Municipalities across South Africa have been taking steps to respond to climate change and promote decentralised renewable energy for many years, but there needs to be massive up-scaling of commitment and action,” said ICLEI Africa project manager Steven Bland.