By Arno Cornelissen
Hip-Hop uplifts those who create and listen to it. It can bring people from different backgrounds together. “Everyone has their unique way of being,” says Tolo Likakheswa, the lyricist and MC for the night at The Black Power Station. Tolo is accompanied by Subs (on the beats), “designing the soundscape.”
Return of the Cypher is a performance of FALKAB. Standing for fits, art, lyrics, knowledge, and beats, it “isn’t one person; it is a collective. It contains all the elements that I am physically involved with,” says Tolo during our post-performance interview. “I do graffiti, I rap. This was done by me,” he adds , pointing to his customised shirt.
The idea for FALKAB came to Tolo when he started branching out into creative outlets influencing the culture of Hip-Hop. “I began designing the album covers, then we included street art and graffiti – broadening the umbrella of FALKAB.”
“Welcome to The Black Power Station,” shouts a child to visitors of this iconic space.
The atmosphere of The Black Power Station has always been one of inclusivity, a place where you can be free to be yourself without judgement, provided you do not harm others.
This feeling of everyone belonging is what makes The Black Power Station one of the best venues during the Festival. “This is home,” says Xolile Madinda – the owner of The Black Power Station. Like all their events, tonight is a refuge to a wide variety of humans. Small and tall, young and old (ok, not that elderly) all gather to dance to the lively beats.
Dipping out of the venue to have a ‘gwaai’, I see a man of about thirty walking out, still jamming to the beats and freestyling some rhymes of his own. Not long after, one of the kids, a boy not older than six, walks out and proceeds to do the same – witnessing the influence of Hip-Hop right in front of my eyes.
An interested spectator, Nolwazi Nokayi, is a newbie at this year’s Festival. “No one here will complain about the queues being too long. I feel extremely welcome here. So many people need this vibe. People out there are not healed. They’re hurting. People need this place and a feeling of belonging,” she shares.
The crowd cheers for “one more, one more” as we close in on two hours. Tolo feigns fatigue but gladly mumbles “ja, ja, ja…” He performs another and another. The crowd joins in with improvised backup vocals and sounds. It is a collaborative moment inside the venue, with everyone contributing to the collective experience that is Return of the Cypher.