It is the 10th of February; my mind is as blank as some deserts are of an oasis as to who our next Spoken Mind is going to be. “I’m reading this ARTicle for the last time,” I tell myself, enamored by the ability of two very soft spoken women to turn words into moving monuments. I browse through the still contents staring ever so lividly at me, as if bruised by the indiscretions of speech. Perhaps it should be said that I find that inspiration is as undulating in demeanor as the motion of the ebbing sea. That its (inspiration) voyages aren’t as incessant as one may have come to believe. That one article may become as monumental as the name Madiba, while another is betrothed to inherit the sidewalks of a deserted island, born to be an unremembered source of literary information. My article is due and I’m blank, having being let down by a prominent member of a certain band (which will remain unnamed until he makes his appearance) “TraVelling Blak, you guys are performing at Medunsa’s Free Mindz session this Friday,” this is the e-mail received from the (wo)manager. At this point I feel it is safe to express, I know how the great Greek engineer, Archimedes, must have felt like after solving the problem surrounding density whilst taking a bath. “EUREKA, EUREKA, EUREKA!!!!!” Accept unlike the great engineer, I am not about to dishonor the Mrs. by running down the corridors naked, oh God forbid.
“FREE MINDZ!! (crowd responds) CAN FREE MINDZ!! FREE MINDZ!! CAN FREE MINDZ!!!” This… is the vocal orchestra of semi offish, staccato like voices of beings set to chant down mental enslavement. Allow me to paint the scenery: It is evening time and we are at Medunsa’s FNB auditorium, two hours off of the stated kick off time of 5pm, however, I hear no complaints. The room is illuminated via candlelight, bass guitar on standby with an acoustic slightly leaning in as if encouraging a kiss (a coquettish gesture if you ask me.) A keyboard lies sprawled invitingly on the table. I see familiar faces, A Huge_Impakt amongst them (see 1st issue by me.) “This show is going to be off the hook,” I remember thinking to myself. And boy was I right.
The Mc’s for the evening (Tryhosa Makena of Free Mindz and Khumo Montshiwa of Travellin Blak) kick-start the show by opening the floor to a Jam Session to which the likes of Saint (a freestyle Mc), A Huge_Impakt, Tuelo (of TVB) and Poetic Blak unflaggingly respond to. According to my not so disastrous, yet musically untrained ear, Phumzile seems to be hitting the most arduous notes monosyllabically, harmonizing over bars provided by band members of “Time”. I am in heavenly places and this is just the Jam Session (which lasted a good, solid 30 minutes.) She is joined on stage by the likes of Nomalanga, Zimkhita (of TVB) and Thando. At this point, I am receiving spiritual ablution; my mind cleansed and freed from subliminally placed shackles. These people, often misunderstood; referred to as ‘deep’ and ‘too emotional’, the Doom Sayers of society, offer a reprieve to my own consciousness beyond comprehension. They are a constant reminder of the reason I stand on stage and bare my soul, that there must be more to living than merely breathing, seeing, tasting and feeling. There were over 25 performances rendered on the day. I suggest the government consult these artists on tips for service delivery, because we got the purest of artistic service.
I too took advantage of the platform to indoctrinate the masses (“,), for there is a Consciousness that represents them, there is a platform where they too are afforded a means of relief. A platform not only to bare their souls, but to indulge in healthy debate, criticism and artistic communiqué. This platform was further discussed in the bus arranged for the Pretoria massive.
The entire show was a musical allegory with the elevation of art at its core. I’m talking bass strings courting acoustic melodies on the borders of percussionary visions, no passports required. The non consequential, non xenophobic crossing over of spoken tapestry. From hip hop to poetry, to music, bands to duets, the show had them all. For two of the artists present to travel all the way from Kimberley (Mindcrusher and Boitumelo), I feel it is safe to say, artists are hungry for this. Other movements represented were the very talented TUT Street Poets Society, the very scarce Silent Thunders (who share institutional relations to Free Mindz), Obakeng (of Street Harmony) was also present to render a solo love track. Some lines which caught my attention: khaya: ”she wouldn’t give me a time of day, so I began being a nuisance, coz she was playing hard to get like a distinction in higher grade math’s… if she was a disease, I’d probably be infected.” Besides what you might read from this, the poem is about Poetry. Flex, rose to the occasion after being called whilst his name wasn’t on the list. Before he begins, he is met by the almost quizzical, yet influential Street Poets soundtrack,” STREET POETRY!!! (crowd responds) WHAT!!!! STREET POETRY!!! WHAT!!!!!.”as if the words were catapulted from deeper reservoirs, he shouts, ”Let the mind play a tune and let the tongue dance. Let the mind play a tune and let the tongue dance… the confidence rate on a page is not equivalent to the competence waged on stage so I heard…” Jimmy Hendricks once expressed the same view about his music. How he would hear the perfect chords in his head, but when he tried playing them, they would sound a diluted version of the ones he remembered hearing. Bright got ‘deep,’ and we know how poets get right? He said the following:”…death doesn’t die in fumes of smokes and homes of alcohol, but a blow of a breath can shake the glass to stain a table that fed fish and bread of life to Jesus and His disciples…” After all the depth, Valentine swept the ladies off of their feet with his velvet like voice. This guy didn’t even say a word; he was scatting, playing magical tunes with his voice. To rap up in words what was my first attended poetry show this year, would require my speech to be made paramount, crowned into statures of royalty. However, it would be unfair of me not to say the following, as Vangs would put it,”I dined in the company of royals.” The show was off the hinges.
Still bubbling with excitement after drinking from poetry’s undying streams, joker faced, I take my seat in the bus with some of the days’ performers. Though I know most of these guys personally, today we take a detour off personal terrains. I put on my 4×4 Mc protective brain gear, breathe deeply… and engage. Now away from punchline land where some will “leave you in a flow like Moses’ mom” while others’ “dragon kicks are brewed behind bars/so kicks are SAB approved,” I take the opportunity to raise my pressing concerns about the livelihood of the arts.”What happened to intellectual conversations between artists? Where one could express beyond the platform the meaning behind his /her poem, line, rhyme or punchline. We now sit with artists who aren’t required to back up their statements.” I explain to these now very attentive prospective guru’s my reasons for joining consciousness, my vision for “Spoken Mind” and the role I hope every one of them will be willing to play. This, I hope, will mark the beginning of an outcry. Where artists will stop merely petting each others egos on some,” yo boi, that was dope,” then walk away without even the slightest of ideas as to what the poem/script represents. I look at them now, with a fuelled expectancy, with the hope that they do not pour water to my argument. And indeed, the conversation, as if breathed on by the God of “Let there be light” Himself, takes on a glorious form. Tebogo emphasizes that artists tend to sensationalize material when they are on stage and that it is often much easier to understand certain issues when they are discussed off stage. Further stating that, until we start working on our delivery as artists on stage, things will stay the same. That, coupled with the fact that we as an artistic audience are not objective and do not assist in growing each others art, will ensure that some artists remain birthing still born material. We also discussed the importance of documentation and marketing of artists by artists or via other sources. The main point of the discussion however, was to broaden conversational platforms where artists will be able to dissect, critique, philosophies their work. Huge made a point about how artists admire each others art and that makes criticism difficult, hence we find the whole ‘petting your back syndrome’ that abounds.
3 hours of Spoken Word followed by 45 minutes of involving conversation with artists. To Tebza, Saint, Huge and Flex, thank you for a tight trip. To the Free Mindz collective, lets keep the fires of Spoken Word burning. Let’s make every hood, CBD, ‘plaas’ etc, a platform for constructive dialogue. Until consciousness is a movement of fire bearing individuals who acknowledge that every man/woman has a role to play in the betterment of society. That art is one side of the seven colored spectrum, that there are thousands of other mediums we can employ in making our societies better, then I will continue in my course of choice… MASS INDOCTRINATION”,