When Rihanna released R-rated, she was sad and dark and lonely but somehow, she was also cool, together and sassy.
The shock to the system that was her dark edge excited me as much as it scared me. She had dared to do what everybody dreamt of doing should they “one day be free” from society’s expectations of them.
What Rihanna was feeding was a movement for the dark to live in a way that heals and she did it on a platform that offered her 20 million ears. But she did nothing that didn’t already exist in this realm.
The underground has been thriving for decades, living for its own type of cool, its own fashion and its own voice – never waiting to be verified by the commercial world.
And here we find ourselves a few years later, with a little more power to be exactly who we want, and in walks this group of rebels with clear vision on what they want and need from this life. The spirit and the energy carried through behind the lens of that room was palpable. Previdar captured South Africa’s most liberated, gifted and talented individuals sharing their space and energy with each other to bring you a fashion exorcism of leather, black and tassled proportions.
First of all, damn Saadique. He will cut and wet the life into any hair. He interprets vision well and stays on queue to deliver. Then there’s Boogy who reinvigorates the hopes of a style age. Not a fashion age, but a style age. Boogy takes an era and makes it matter now. Yipikayay. Nomoozlie’s PLUG cover? Liberado? Come on. I don’t have enough space to mention the others but I’m glad this was the choice here.
The wings were unclipped and the egos were definitely unchained.
Before Casper Nyovest feels up the Dome, before Trevor Noah scores the Daily Show, before Black Coffee owns Ibiza, there is an underground environment that allows them to thrive and supports their craft while preparing them for the big lights. This was the setting of the Liberado shoot featuring South Africa’s queen of Tribal House Lady X, Vuzu heartthrob and The Hustle contestant Shane Eagle, Hip Hop pretty boy Priddy Ugly, Kwaito DJ and township fav Kasi Mlungu DJ, Video Vixen Tarryn Alberts and Durban’s finest’s Sketchy Bongo.
Their talent is absolutely undeniable, their work ethic is unparalleled and their style is irresistible.
The collaboration with South Africa’s favourite tequila flavoured beer gave them a dab, confirming their cool. They stand tall amongst hundreds of South African trailblazers who have been redefining the entertainment and media landscape, breaking boundaries and changing the shape of the local industry.
Gone are the days when the local industry was dominated by the same old faces, gone are the days when brands used to engage with just the big names.
The voice is being shared with the thinkers and the creatives.
“The house music industry is packed with different artists and vocalists who have been dominating the airwaves for years. I keep the real “me” on stage with me so that my rendition of the movement and its difference is apparent. The gyrating, the depth of voice, the movement I’m representing is all me and I’m one of the people who get to say I wake up and be the best of me everyday. Being true to myself has been the biggest differentiator that has set me apart from my peers” says Lady X
The younger generation of artists have hustled their way to the top, knocking on every door and refusing to conform to the norm. They have even redefined the artistic boundaries in music, theatre, dance, fashion and television, creating new genres and sub-genres that ignite every sense of the rebel imagination.
“To think that not so long ago Afro Pop and Kwaito were the most dominant sounds and then fast forward to 2016 and you have a fight that HipHop could have possibly won this year depending on whose opinion matters. Who would have thought that the day would come when Hip Hop artists in South Africa are ranked amongst some of the highest paid artists in the world” added Rapper Shane Eagle
There used to be a time when artists would need to work two to three jobs in order to make rent or sustain their passion. Dancer and choreographer, Tarryn Alberts remembers a time when dancing was not even considered a job.
“It was crazy to even call dancing a profession! But what we do is art and it should be treated as art worth paying for, worth investing in. I am trying to pioneer a wave of new and liberated employment using the skill that’s been put in my limbs.”
Durban-born Sketchy Bongo feels the same about his DJing and producing.
“I still have to explain what exactly I do and why it is considered a job, just like a regular nine to five. Times are moving and those who are different are finding ways of commercializing their talent and selling being different and now Liberado is standing for just that.” Added Sketchy Bongo
At the height of this movement is self expression, uniqueness and none conformism.
Fresh out of studio with “You Don’t Know Me Yet’, Hiphop’s darker voice, Priddy Ugly knows all too well what social media can do for a brand.
“The invention of Social Media has enabled people from across cultures and continent to be intertwined and connected like never before. Everyone is aware of what everyone is doing and we are all trying to get more African and more real and more relatable with every project. I’d feel better sitting at the table as the best version of my kasi self than just a version of a Hiphop star” said Priddy Ugly.
We were shooting in a room full of people who were all under 35, doing what they wanted to do because they thought it was worth it. And after a drawn out day with physical and mental requirements weighing at their will, the liberated stayed creative and focused on delivering.
A moment I nearly missed was when we had one more take and as everybody was retiring for the night. Bontle’s inner dancer saw an opportunity to elevate a shot and make its beauty that much better. She jumped into the camera shot and improvised around Tarryn, creating magic in emotion that Previdar cannot wait to share with you. Tarryn killed it but together, they dragged it by the chains, honey.
It will make sense when you see it.
Bontle is one to look out for too. A friend of the Liberado brand, a carrier of its spirit – she’s jumping into this world talent first and she’ll reap the rewards soon enough. Her and Priddy Ugly make everybody look single all over again.
Bravo to the ones who let black feathered wings, leather getups, tassled boots and pleather platforms take centre stage. It was a good fashion day but even more, a great day to be liberated.
Liberado has recognised the potential that is in the rugged streets of the gold city and the message the thought leaders of that space have to offer. One can only wait to see what the next decade will deliver. In the mean time? Be liberated.