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We Shall Over Come On Purpose : A Kabomo Story

Posted by radio On November - 26 - 2013

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]



Super stardom in Joburg comes with  scars and plenty of nay saying peers. If you start from bottom in this scene, there is always is a bizarre negotiation of whether the art you produce meets the standards of your highly cerebral and most of the time, cynical community. Kabomo Vilakazi’s case is a classic example. He started off as a spoken word artist at the height of Newtown’s glory, where he waxed lyrical alongside laureates of the day such as Common Man, a younger Flo Mokale, Lebo Mashile, Napo Masheane, Tha Hymphatic Thabs and the late Robo.kabomo_yamaha_2





This was a time when the down town precinct fermented with the fervour of Electric Circus listening hipsters and card carrying feigns of a sound that could have possibly been by Basemental Platform or Township Frequency. Y FM was churning out this narrative viscerally through shows like Groove Kamikaze, Harambe and Bondo Ntuli’s late night repertoires. The air was ripe with an African Renaissance via Thabo Mbeki’s rhetoric. Everybody wore the patriotism on their sleeve.




Vilakazi is essentially a spawn of that generation. Our renaissance man ,Vilakazi known as Brown back then, has gone through interesting incarnations over the years, the kind that has always attracted bitch slaps from the pool of hardcore underground impresarios and yes, much approval from the mainstream after a nomination and performance at the SAMAs for his debut album All Things Grey.  Let’s unpack bricks where the man’s journey, shall we?


Kabomo in his own words


Kaya FM’s Mo G on Kabomo




Y Mag days


Y Mag had positioned itself as as purveyor of tidings solely concerned with the grand rebellion of Gauteng’s youth in the mid-nineties leading to the early 2000s. It had Sbu ‘The General’ Nxumalo and Itumeleng Mahabane running editorial. Spreads in the magazine had topics such ‘Why Are Black People So loud’ and the odd column by Sexa on sexual issues.




After Nxumalo and Mahabane’s exit, then came Paul ‘Rude Boy Paul’ Mnisi (now with Power FM) whose direction was assisted by Bongani Madondo as ghost editor.  Lee Kasumba took the batton from Mnisi, she was also one third of afternoon drive show Harambe .



According to many a murmurs, Kasumba put the final nail in the rag’s coffin. Y Mag was headed for ruin at her helm. When Kabomo Vilakazi assumed editorship. It was almost a one man steered hack job whereby every second page had the man’ overly indulged trace on it. From the editorial space to features, Vilakazi might as well had declared that he was going to single-handedly put the magazine together by himself. He was all over it!




The Coming of Age& Rising of a phoenix


After a period that marked a regular column in True Love magazine, a life of homelessness and anxiety to produce a second album, Kabomo’s  odds were to live up to the  mould  of ‘having made it’ looked dire. A member of one of the few remaining and consistent poetry collectives in Joburg known as Likwid Tongue, Richard Quaz Roodt, remembers a scruffy looking and head phone wearing Vilakazi in 2010 showing up at OST, Newtown with the world on his shoulders.






Roodt describes the moment, “ You know what, when I saw him I thought it’s a theatrical thing that he is testing out.” Roodt carries on, “I mean this was Kabomo, to see him living from hand to mouth had me in disbelief.” Quaz goes on to say, “But it was also an ironically interesting time, in that when he climbed on stage during one of our shows he blew the crowd with material he was working on for his album.”





The launch of Memory Remains at Yamaha House




Kabomo’s sophomore album launch kick started with an opener from an emerging artist known as Solo. Flanked by two mpc players, namely Solid of Third Wave and L The Third. Solo embarked on a trip of neo raps synonymous to the craze of Danny Brown, Odd Future, Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bad Ass. Solo’s performance evoked themes of urban love, ‘the hustle’ and the juxtaposition of street credibility against an ever increasing totem of economic freedom.




Then from the silhouetted stage came the main act. Kabomo Vilakazi with a sermon of soul, rap and street life blues. His second album, Memory Remains is a meandering escapade that will land you at a few stops. If finely attuned, you are guaranteed to go past Raphael Saadiq’s ‘Different Times’ from the album Gospeldelic, to the machine gun raps of Zubz, Proverb& Tumi with ‘The performance Of Your Life..’ The night’s campaign had  with it collaborations from Nothende to improvisations with scat-stars such as Zarcia Zecheus. Even the lovely union that is Tshepo Mngoma and Swazi Dlamini had a chance to dazzle at Vilakazi’s command. Even more endearing was his rendition of Sankomota classic.





Underground, above ground….whatever!


As subjective as truth is. Kabomo is living testament that street dreams can come true. He is renaissance man that we all aspire to be. A dude that has cut his teeth doing this and that, well he ended up having prime time viewers in captivation and gawking at his Joburg style at the SAMAs. His humble beginnings from Jungle Connection to Horror are a thread that motivates and yells  out to the growing mind that “You Can Be Whatever You  Wanna Be.”


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