Back to the City – the peak of festival season so far

US rapper Talib Kweli had a few surprises in wait for the devout followers of street culture at Back To The City last weekend. 

The Largest hip-hop festival in Africa, Back to the City (BTTC) returned to Mary Fitz Gerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg. After being plagued by the pandemic and attempts at having this festival virtually thwarted by hackers, BTTC was back with a bang and string of performances that quickly dull out any bad memories of Delicious the week prior.

Headlining was Talib Kweli of the US. He hit the stage and delivered some of his more noteworthy tracks. Standouts were Hot Thing featuring Will.i.am.

He also let loose the Nina Simone sample-based track, Get By, produced by Kanye West, which shook the plaza.

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He then started rapping over an MF Doom track called Accordion, produced by the prolific Madlib. Together, they formed the highly revered duo Madvillain.

Anyone who is a true fan of the art form was slain in the spirit of street culture when Kweli brought the man out himself.

He appeared in all-white and elevated an already great performance with a raucous tribute to his late and highly esteemed collaborator MF Doom.

They went further still and brought out another famed New York rapper Pharoahe Monch and he did the seminal street anthem Simon Says.

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A few other moments were recorded by some of the DJs. It’s always a moment when Dead Prez’s Hip Hop is played as it was yet again. We were almost caught in a mosh pit inside the Hennessey VIP marquee when MOP’s Ante Up was played.

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It was a vibe in there albeit a little hood, perhaps, but that’s to be expected at a hip-hop festival. Cassper Nyovest also delivered a worthy performance. He made it just in time to perform after Kweli and this is after he trounced Priddy Ugly in his Celeb City Boxing match in Pretoria. He appeared without a scratch on his face and performed like he was at a victory parade. Smoke and fire spewed out the stage as streams of confetti rained from somewhere above.

It was good to see a festival that attracts 15 000 people and over 100 acts back. Not to mention the pillars below the M1 overpass have also been given their traditional face lift by some of the best graffiti and street artists in the country. Be sure to check those out.

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