Back to the City is one of the most important events in the hip-hop calendar, showcasing both established acts and up-and-coming artists in the biggest hip-hop gathering on the continent.
This year, not only is BTTC’s line-up incredible (which it is every year, to be honest), but the event just added The Heritage – a new feature guaranteed to leave fans in their feels with nostalgia. As a new aspect of the festival experience, The Heritage asks legendary and culture-shifting artists to perform original material from their breakthrough albums.
For The Heritage this year, two legends, Hymphatic Thabz and Zola, are set to perform tracks from their classic breakthrough albums, Error Era and Umdlwembe respectively.
With Error Era released in 2001, Hymphatic Thabz established himself as one of the torchbearers of dungeon rap in South Africa. The album displayed his genius, his unmatchable vocabulary and his authentic delivery in tracks heavy with abstract rhymes that still felt both intimate and conversational.
Kanif, the in-house producer at Iapetus Records, is responsible for the album’s gloomy production, prompting Thabz to establish a long standing relationship with him that still stands to this day. Thabz’ album The Age of Horus, another hip-hop classic, turns 10 years-old this year, proving that the rapper has come a long way since Error Era’s success, and only has more to offer.
The second musician performing as part of The Heritage is no stranger to the hip-hop hall of fame. With Umdlwembe, also released in 2001, Zola opened the bridge between kwaito and hip-hop at a time when the two genres refused to co-exist. With legendary hits like ‘Ghetto Scandalous’, which featured KB and Amu, and ‘Woof Woof’, Zola gave us gems that were unapologetically rooted in rap and authentically kasi.
Fully taking advantage of the persona of Papa Action, a character he played on the hit TV series Yizo Yizo, Umdlwembe positioned Zola as a next generation tsotsi – street-smart, slick and full of mischief. Zola went to be one of the most popular kwaito stars to ever come out of the genre, and is still respected today for his numerous contributions to South African music and culture.
Back To The City is now in its 11th year, and since its creation, has proven to be incredibly influential as an annual meeting place for the shapers of the state of hip hop. Last year the festival pulled an attendance of 20 000, having stared with just 5 000 at its genesis.
Also functioning as a springboard, Back To The City launched the careers of hip-hop artists like Mashayabhuqe KaMamba, who after his 2014 performance had both hip-hop heads and alternative music fans a-buzz. This year, look forward to a performance from ByLwansta, amongst others.
This year, the festival’s line-up also includes heavyweights such as Skyzoo and Wu Tang Clan member Capadonna who are among the few American artists on the bill.
More than merely showcasing the best of the best in rap music, Back To The City celebrates street art, skateboarding, breakdancing and street culture in one of the most unique and exciting festivals in the country.
Be sure to grab your BTTC tickets soon, which you can find here.