Putting ‘taal’ into a local perspective

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TO Afrikaaps2 SOMETHING TO SAY: Afrikaaps artists, from left, Blaq Pearl, Bliksemstraal and Jitsvinger. Photo: Ference Isaacs

It needn’t be September 24 for you to celebrate your heritage. A group of very talented young people in Cape Town are proof. You may have seen them in a stage production titled Afrikaaps. Or you may have heard of their international accolades.

Just last month, the artists who perform in Afrikaaps launched the Afrikaaps EP through a series of shows at Joule City in Cape Town. The EP features an EPK (electronic press kit) of the show, five singles – including the popular Ek Is – and live audiovisual performances of Ek Is (live at the Baxter Theatre) and Legal, which was performed at the Amsterdam Stadschouwburg.

The artists who perform on Afrikaaps collectively call themelves Die Argitekbekke. They include Kyle Shepherd, who is the jazz prodigy who doubles as Afrikaaps’ musical director, as well as musicians Jitsvinger, Blaq Pearl, Bliksemstraal, Monox, Jethro Louw and Emile YX. The diverse musicians all have something unique to bring to the table so the sound that sets the stage to tell an equally unique story ranges from hip hop to goema, jazz and reggae as well as other indigenous sounds.

Each of these artists also has a thriving solo career. Emile YX, who was born Emile Jansen, is known as a member of veteran hip hop group Black Noise and the man behind the Hip Hop Indaba. Blaq Pearl is a poet who has soared with words to international heights. She is also the sister of the late great Mr Devious. Quinton “Jitsvinger” Goliath is one of the country’s best- kept gems. Not only has he amassed a following as a rapper, but performs at festivals and has formed one of the best experimental bands to come out of 2012: Jitsenic with producer, Arsenic.

As a face of Afrikaaps, Jitsvinger says that “Afrikaaps is about telling the omitted history about the true origins – meaning the black origins – of this language called Afrikaans. So the show is intertwined with research and interviews with the late Alexander Neville and intercut with aspects of the hip hop play. The story is told through music, poetry and quite a few forms of theatre.”

This is the experience you get even if you’re not watching Die Argitekbekke live, but simply looking at or listening to the EP.

Afrikaaps is already a big brand in the Mother City. It has also gone on to represent this country through winning the Kyknet Fiesta Award for Moenier Adams for Best Upcoming Artist and Professional Debut, the Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Musically Driven Production and after touring the Netherlands in 2011, Afrikaaps received the Amsterdam Wijkjury Prize for the Best Theatre Production in Amsterdam for the 2011-12 season.

So it would be nice for them to branch out and make a mark on the rest of South Africa, but Jitsvinger says that “we’re looking at ways of distribution that will allow us to spread Afrikaaps far and wide and we’ll all talk about that soon”.

For now though, the EP should quench the thirst.

• The Afrikaaps EP is available at The African Music Store in Long Street and can be ordered at [email protected]

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