Competitions that have anything to do with music can be tenuous things. Often, it feels like there can be no winning.
When they’re left to the public to vote for a winner, the content is rarely the deciding factor, and when a judging panel has the final say, there’s always room for complaints over the credentials of the final choice. These are some of the points that initially came up when Jameson announced their music video grant, which would award R200k to the director/artist combination with the best original proposal for a music video. Now that we finally have the end product of the grant process, though, few arguments about its quality are likely.
The winning song is a singularly unique collision of worlds. Brazilian Trap Funk & Alivio lay the groundwork for the track, with a beat that would fit amongst the most modern trap music both from and inspired by their country.
Over this foundation of high energy electronics, Sotho musician (and former shepherd) Morena Leraba lays a hypnotic hook and verse, part rap and part praise poetry, before Joburger Mankind finishes the flurry of influences off with an irreverent, Jozi-slang splitting verse.
That any of this works is down to the power of presence in Leraba’s voice, Trap Funk & Alivio’s more restrained instrumental (compared to their trap contemporaries) and the inherent links between the sounds of his South American sample choices and Morena’s Southern African aesthetic.
Despite the high sheen, ultra-collaborative nature of the music, Morena Leraba’s manifesto remains to shine a light on his native Lesotho and its culture. The visuals, thus, were all shot in the mountains of Lesotho with director Carl Houston Mc Millan at the helm – who splits his living time between SA and Lesotho and has a wealth of prior material shot in the region.
The results play like an insider’s view of a rich landscape – highlighting the world of a group of Basotho shepherds in high definition. Without Morena Leraba’s genuine connection and Mc Millian’s experience of the vistas, it’s doubtful that a video this unique and powerful would have happened. (Take a look at the original pitch for the project for more of the thinking behind it)
Watch the full music video below and hear more from Morena Leraba and Mankind on the song here.