Kwesta’s open letter is very long and the first part .. Is .. Well you know .. Anyway this is the last half of the letter, which I believe is where the issues and everything all arise and all is addressed so read away..
“… In my opinion the music committee does not consist of enough people who are passionate about the advancement of our booming street culture and/or that have intimate knowledge of the taste, styles and sounds growing in prominence and this deficiency cripples 5FM which is the market leader in youth media but in this regard they lagging behind and out of touch. What pains me is that this very same 5FM is very quick to respond where there are white faces involved, where as Teargas is overlooked but a Bittereinde will come from nowhere with a chart-topping hit that’s not resonant with what’s really happening on the streets at large. To this I take exception because they all should have a place on 5 because that is the variety we need to show off that famed diversity that we sell our country on. I’ll make an example with Jack Parow who released “Blou Bek,”
the first single off his new double album. It’s has been play listed and I can almost guarantee it will be making its way up the chart in the coming weeks while on the other hand 5FM has only recently play listed iFani’s Milli which has been the most played South African Hip-hop track in the country for months now in what can only be described as a delayed reaction to what the music loving youth are responding to. I doubt it’ll make the Top 40 chart but I guess it should be commended that iFani was not completely overlooked right? I for one am not satisfied with this status quo and anyone with any knowledge of what is happening on the streets would agree that they are simply being ignored by our youth station. I know from personal experience that when Boomshakalaka had already reached it’s peak on various radio stations and long become the most
downloaded rap track in the country I still had to carry out the research myself and collate data to prove to the music committee that the song was worth playing even though as I was told that there was too much vernacular in the lyrics for the “5FM listener” to which I responded so Afrikaans must be the only African language that is palatable to the “5FM
listener” because at the same time Jack Parow’s song was getting enviable airplay, unjustly so considering how I was being snubbed, which begs the question who is this 5FM listener? Of the things the 5FM listener could be is it thus inconceivable that he/she could possibly be a young South African like me, from the hood like and black like me, amongst other things? In the end I didn’t give up and Boomshakalaka made the play list eventually thanks to the people in the music committee who had to lobby for it… Although grateful I was unhappy with the lengths I had to go to, to have my song played and I never got to get over what I was subjected to because it persists to this day which prompted a change in my attitude towards 5FM. I don’t even sample them with the same singles that I send to other radio stations hence I released High On Life and shot a video for it purely because I knew Thul’ Ujayive stood no change of playing on 5FM but when this effort proved to be
unsuccessful and I asked why I was told it wasn’t catchy enough something I know is not true because I have crowd tested my singles months before I released them and this just showed me that the people who say that are not at my shows when people are singing along to every word, they don’t follow the comments on social media where people are quoting my lyrics and evidently the young people my music appeals to are not the desired 5FM listener. I guess I just don’t get the message.
I’ve been thinking to myself for months now: why is it that I have to prove that my music is popular by performing to thousands of responsive young people around the country and spend thousands of Rands on music videos before my songs can break onto on 5FM’s play list when, they are supposed to be a “new music” station and introduce new sounds to their listeners? I have no problem with going the extra mile for myself but when it’s not only me who is left dumb founded when considering what exactly it is that 5FM wants knowing how much work artists like iFani, L-Tido, BlackLez and the likes are putting into their craft I thought maybe it’s time I speak on our behalf and show 5FM that we have a significant following that are not happy with not hearing enough of our music on the only national youth station.
On Wednesday morning I saw Cassper Nyovest tweeting about a struggle I know all too well… How to get his song play listed on 5FM? His song, which has dance-floors filled from Mafikeng to Cape Town and I thought maybe if I create enough noise around it maybe someone, would take notice. I saw history repeating itself and realised that we generally share the sentiment that 5FM doesn’t acknowledge the work we’re putting in, outright. I addressed the facts and painted the true picture of what we experience and people contributed their own experiences, which were all the same.
I felt that maybe if I could rally up my followers, who are always vocal about our common interests, then maybe the forces of resistance within 5FM would have no choice but to respond to the calls of our people. Later that night Cassper Nyovest’s song was played on 5FM for the first time and I went to bed happier. What happened the next evening (6 February 2014) was completely unexpected. V-Entertainment covered the debate we had on twitter and spoke to Cathrine Grenfell who was the one person who I know for sure was instrumental in my singles Pump It & Flava getting play listed when my debut album came out some 4-years ago. I’ll be the first to admit that things at 5FM have changed a lot but at the same-time the whole world has changed and it has changed faster than 5FM has. I feel that if the music committee was in touch with the broader youth and was just as passionate about South African Hip-hop as they are about indie-rock & EDM which dominate the play list and chart unfairly so then they’d attract a wider audience…
The only other SABC youth radio station is TruFM in Bisho and it doesn’t even have coverage in the whole of the Eastern Cape. Metro FM is not a youth station, Ukhozi FM and the likes are not youth stations either so as far as the SABC is concerned all we have is 5FM and although it’s a commercial station it still needs to meet the mandate. 5FM can no-longer be characterised as a “white station” that plays music for “white people & socalled coconuts.” As the only national YOUTH radio station it needs to be cognisant of it’s obligations to the youth of South Africa as a whole and play it’s part in social integration by fairly representing the views of the youth and serving to break the racial divide by making more of an effort to reach out to the majority of young black people because they have been largely overlooked and robbed of an inclusive platform that represents their interests as well as those of other youth groups in an effort to create a more unified national identity amongst the youth. We’re almost 20-years into democracy and although there’s noticeable change, right now the Black Youth of South Africa want & need the Power of 5FM but we’re left out in the cold and I just feel like it’s “either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood…”
For these I reasons I can say that what is clear is that 5FM is failing to live up to it’s brand promise which is detailed in the profile pictured below, by marginalising the majority of our diverse youth culture and although there are strides being made toward inclusive programming there is not enough progress and this must change!”