6 Things We Loved About Beyoncé on Netflix

Written By Khanyisile Msebenzi

It’s not like we hadn’t watched Beyoncé’s performance at Coachella online last year already, seeing it again was like walking into feminist heaven!

Going into the film I thought it was a mostly behind the scenes film, but it actually was mostly the concert, this was the only disappointment I had with the film. In this world of celebrity over exposure, no one can blame us for wanting to know more about Beyoncé’s daily life and thinking. But it did give enough insight to satiate curiosities for a week or so. But, I can definitely say, this film made me fall more in love with Beyonce. I didn’t think it was possible, and so I promote myself as head of the Beyhive in my circle of friends.

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1 I loved how Beyonce unreservedly shared about the difficulties she experienced during her pregnancy. Maternal health, especially black woman maternal health has come into the spotlight lately in the USA because a much higher percentage of black women die of complications during pregnancy compared to other races. In Africa the statistics are even worse with many countries having healthcare systems that aren’t equipped to properly diagnose or treat pregnancy complications like preeclampsia fast enough. There are more conditions that lead to either the death of a baby or the mother. Beyonce had to have an emergency c-section to save her life and that of her twins.

2 Beyonce works hard for her body! She was clearly unfit and had gained almost twice her weight during pregnancy. She shows us how she struggles to get fit and strong again and also shares how scared she was she would never be the same. She went on a strict diet, eliminated all carbohydrates and had a hectic work out regime. One of my favourite parts is when she fits into one of the costumes she used to wear before pregnancy and she calls Jay Z to share the news and he is really excited for her and reacts with the enthusiasm we expect from our girlfriends who understand the stress of trying to lose weight and fit into old clothes. Guys, learn from Jay Z! If it matters to us and it stresses us, even if you think it is trivial, act as though you are just as invested as we are, lol!

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3 The first film Beyonce did was to give us a peak into her life as she had taken time off to raise Blue Ivy and to get some much deserved rest. This film had a clear message, her Coachella performance was a message, it was a celebration of black culture and black history, owning it without being ashamed. She says she couldn’t believe she was the first black woman to headline such a big and international concert, and practically shamed the organizers that it took them so long when black culture influences America and the world so much. Her being inspired by what goes on at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) made me wish we had the same culture here. But instead, in South Africa black colleges and universities are seen as offering inferior quality of education and overall experience. Perhaps our black elite can start contributing to these and build institutions of excellence that take pride in being black instead of having all of us clamoring to get into the Wits, Stellenboschs and UCTs. HBCUs in the USA are mainly funded by its black alumni.

Homecoming Poster

4 Beyonce used her Coachella performance to celebrate every woman. She had women of all shapes and sizes on that stage and she did it purposefully too. One of the women interviewed in the film is a sister from Nigeria who is now American and she was still in disbelief that she was chosen to participate in the show for Beyonce. Beyonce set out to tell us ladies that we are beautiful as we are, as unique as we are no matter how thick, or thin, or tall. No matter our skin tone or the texture of our hair, she didn’t seek to find ‘clones’ of herself, we all could see ourselves on that stage. And importantly celebrate all black peoples not just African Americans.

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5 My biggest learning was this -> Beyonce was involved in every part of planning her Coachella performance. She was involved in the choosing of everything from the design of the stage, materials used to make costumes, choreography and the placement of the smallest thing! That’s a big job! Whilst still working on her own fitness, performance, breastfeeding and caring for her babies at the same damn time! Not only that, she was also ensuring that the performance looks good live on stage as well as in video. There was a time when most of the team thought they had nailed the performance but she wasn’t happy with how it translates on video. She chose every single dancer and every single artist and performer. That is a Girl Boss, she didn’t outsource a single part of this, she took full control. Often in our lives or at school or at work we leave something important to us in the hands of somebody else and when they drop the ball we blame them. We are quick to blame others. There is nothing that we should ever feel we don’t have control over, not even the financing of our university fees, we can always find a way.

6 Beyonce brought on her sister Solange and her sisters from Destiny’s Child, she didn’t have to. Nobody expected her to and nobody would have crucified her or judged her if she hadn’t brought them on. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams wouldn’t have blamed her if she didn’t include them in her show. Destiny’s Child has been ‘over’ for years, and yet she still brings them onto key and big shows, she did the same with her big Super Bowl Show. She walks the talk, that we can all shine, she doesn’t try to shine alone. As women this is very important, as we fight for equality we need to do so together and pull each other up. You don’t lose anything by helping another woman.

Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was as impactful on the world’s consciousness as her Super Bowl performance. Which also had a strong message about black pride, black unity and a call to action around Black Lives Matter.

Beyonce is an artist using her celebrity to influence the world for the better and she’s doing this proudly as a black woman.

Watch the Official Homecoming Trailer Here

Talking Black Panther Music with Yugen Blakrok

As Marvel’s Black Panther takes its well-deserved seat in the Academy Awards club with 6 nominations (including Best Original Song by Kendrick Lamar & SZA), we prepare for Captain Marvel and Avengers: End Game to complete the riveting story that Marvel fans have been following for years. Black Panther was undoubtedly one of the most exciting instalments in this series of films and it is arguably Marvel’s single biggest success as it continues to break records critically and in box office sales.

Stats aside, a lot of us are looking forward to seeing Wakandans again. It’s been a cultural phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Africans worldwide including the diaspora, embraced and celebrated their African roots in the spirit of Black Panther’s marvellous execution of African beauty and tradition. Wakanda has become the metaphor for the African spirit that connects us all.

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Director, Ryan Coogler, has expressed the level of pressure he felt while making this film, as it was so apparent to everyone that nothing like it had ever been made before. The cast and crew were passionate about honouring the image of African culture and this passion translated over into its music as well. TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) artist Kendrick Lamar was approached to produce the soundtrack for the film. In a Fader interview with David Redshaw, Coogler explains Kendrick Lamar’s evolving involvement in the film’s soundtrack.

“At first, he was just going to do a few songs for the film. Then he came in and watched quite a bit of the movie, and the next thing I know, they were booking a studio and they were going at it.”

Having explored South Africa’s rich culture and outstanding musical talent, TDE reached out to some of their favourite SA artists to collaborate with on the Black Panther soundtrack. The soundtrack includes local artists Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Saudi, Reason and Yugen Blakrok. As the standout performance on the soundtrack, we had to get in touch with the Johannesburg poet and MC for a brief chat about her involvement in the project and the creative process behind her craft.

Yugen Blakrok

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Featured on the fifth track of the Black Panther album, titled ‘Opps’, Yugen Blakrok raps alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar, proving that black women in hip-hop are a force to be reckoned with.  

Let’s start with the creative process behind your art. How did you come up with your stage-name and how does it relate to your style?

It’s a combination of sound and feeling. Yugen from the concept of awareness of the unseen and Blakrok for its weight and strength. The essence of my style is Yugen, my method is Blakrok.

Your style fits very well with the theme of Black Panther’s strong female characters. Did you know much about Black Panther before working on this feature or did you have to do some research?

I knew a bit about the film from trailers and comic books, I never imagined I’d be in any way involved with it. The idea of a strong female character is something that permeates all of my writing, regardless – this is something I identify with.

How were you approached to take part in this project?

I got an email from Sounwave, saying he wanted me on a project they were working on. I lost my mind. I was on tour in Europe, physically drained and didn’t think I’d have the time to do it but I gave it a shot anyway.

What challenges did you face working on this project that were new to you?

It was a different level of pressure. With my own work, I like to take my time and really get into it. With this project, even though Black Panther hadn’t been mentioned, it was chaotic. I wrote as fast as I could and went looking for a studio to record this mystery verse in. When I got to the studio in Berlin, LMNZ had a tea ceremony prepared. I recorded the verse, sent it and forgot about it.

Did you know who else would be featured on this track or did that come as a surprise?

It was a surprise. After I came back to Johannesburg, I received a call letting me know that the verse would be used for the movie. When that tracklist dropped, I was screaming with the rest of the world.

What do you think about Black Panther’s cast as an all-black ensemble?

It’s fantastic that the movie has a brilliant, all-black ensemble. It’s not often that you see black people in powerful roles TOGETHER. I hope it fuels, inspires and drives more people of colour to break these boxed roles we’re constantly forced into.

With Black Panther, do you think the representation of black people in media is evolving?

I think it’s changing and for the most part, improving.

Your increasing fanbase, especially African fans, are bound to be moved and inspired by how well you represented South Africa’s creative ability to an international audience. Were you aware of the impact you might make?

Well, I aim to do best at any given opportunity. The only pressure I feel is to outdo myself. The fact that I didn’t know I was working on the Black Panther soundtrack is a blessing within a blessing. I didn’t know how much the folks over at TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) knew about South Africa or if this might be their first time hearing an emcee from here, I just wanted to play my damn part.

What advice would you give to other young entertainers and creatives?

Blinders on, run your race and finish. Nothing else matters.

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Boity – Bakae (Music Review)

Boity, real name Boitumelo Thulo up until a few months ago was known mostly for being a television personality, she acts, is a television presenter and models has also added rapper to the list of things she known for.

Personalities deciding to venture into other forms of art isn’t a new thing, Khanyi Mbau had a short stint as a musician, media personality Unathi has a career as a musician some will deem successful, Chris Brown the Rnb singer is also a budding artist. The queen B herself, Beyonce offers her hive other ways to consume her art by ventured into acting in screen plays, she has a couple of budding performances under her in fighting temptation, dream girls amongst others.

I first got wind of Boity dabbling in a career in rap when she as a presenter on the popular TV show club 808 linked up with Nasty C. I didn’t take it or her seriously because for me a self-confessed hip hop purist, you kinda need the skill right?

Cardi B is someone who seems to come from nowhere and rise to the top of the music charts, she seems to have just started rapping a few years ago, so the idea that you need years in the underground rap scene to hone your skill as most of rap greatest stars have done seems to be something that isn’t required in the current climate.

You could argue that due to so much content being available and the manner in which millennials consume content, it tends to have a very short circulation span before the next best thing comes over to grab their attention, but I digress.

Cardi B seems to be someone millennials have taken up and are appreciating. So why not Boity. Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing their raps skills, what I am trying to do is offer the argument that you don’t need years in the rap dungeon to actually have a career. Back to the Boity’s come up story, So she appears on club 808 with Nasty C, word is he invite her to the studio after she play spits some prepared bars on TV, they work on a few songs and then out comes Wuz Dat.

Wuz Dat came out when I was hearing a lot of Cardi B on radio, the two songs reminded me of each other (I am not saying one was inspired by the other, but I mean I was talking about millennials and content and… but I digress… again) I mean she rode the beat, but she wasn’t winning any rap awards knawhatimean? Word is Nasty C was quite helpful, I mean he literally put the battery in her back right? He must have seen something.

The song was ‘aight’, I am not sure if the interest in the song was because it was Boity personality on the song or if the song was decent, being the consumer of music that I am, listened to it a few times, paid attention to how she was rapping appreciated how she had actually done well for a “first try” congratulated the effort in my head and moved on.

I forgot about her and music for a while, and then the headlines said she has another song coming. The usual PR on social media then the song drops. I wasn’t really expecting anything so when the beat dropped and the verses started coming in ferociously I had to check the song again on my iTunes to make sure it is what I was looking for.

The beat was wild, she seemed at ease with it now, she followed line after line with lines to let you know she here to compete, it doesn’t matter if she started yesterday, she’s coming for your necks. I liked the song, she addresses a few slick comments on her spiritual journey with a slick line, a few more slick lines talking her rapper shit all while remaining in the rap pockets students of Jay Z will know all too well. Perhaps Nasty C influence is definitely rubbing of in a positive way.

If anyone thought she was here to play, perhaps this was meant to remind doubters that she isn’t here to play. And I think she isn’t, she has come to elbow out some space in between Nadia Nakai, Moozlie, Rouge, there is enough space for them all and its high time a female artist topped the charts and start competing in the establishment. Imagine a whole fill up tour with women rapper headliners. I mean the millennials definitely could get this going, I mean content and how its consumed by them is off that charts and this is the kind of content they generally sign up for right? Any way back to Boity, I think if she continues on this trajectory she has the top in her sights.

Girl Boss rating: 8/10

#BossingUp with Gigi Lamayne

Gigi Lamayne chats with Zani Tsabedze about her journey in the industry and how she balances her career with her personal life. They chat about what makes her a ‘Bozza’ and how women everywhere can Boss Up in their own lives.

‘Bozza’ by Gigi LaMayne – Music Review

by Nonhle Matsebula

Even if you know very little about the South African music scene or pay little attention to it, it is easy to see that there is a serious deficit of females in the industry, especially as women are major buyers and supporters of local music.  So we love seeing and supporting female MCs who are working to change the game and remain authentic artists no matter the difficulties. 

At Girl Boss we are all about showing appreciation and celebrating women from all walks of life who are bossing up, unapologetically. It inspires us to see one of SA’s leading female MC’s, Gigi LaMayne, out doing what she loves whilst empowering, inspiring, entertaining and being of service to others.

Gigi’s latest video just dropped, following the release of her single, Bozza, which came out last year. If you know any of her previous tracks you already know that she is a force to be reckoned with. Ice Cream is still at the top of our playlist at Girl Boss, and we’re still moved by Fees Must Fall

What stood out the most for us about Bozza is how Gigi takes ownership of the word or title ‘Bozza,’ a street word meaning ‘boss’, which is usually associated with males and seems permitted to be bestowed on women only when men say she is a bozza. LaMayne takes a stand and changes the narrative, claiming space for all women in the streets and in hip hop.

Another thing that sets this video apart is that it is about being a ‘bozza’ without needing all the flash and extravagance that hip hop videos tend to focus on.  Besides the vintage Rolls Royce which complimented the setting, nothing else was overly flashy or over the top. And to me that highlights the truth that to be a boss, to be a girl boss, you don’t need to prove anything to others or demand attention.

In the Bozza video, Gigi looks like a woman coming into herself, owning her vision, confident and humble; unpretentious and relatable, most importantly knowledgeable in her craft and the stories she is telling. I mean damn, she is all about relaying the message of women #BossingUp in the most humble and sincerest way possible, I admire that.

The track is effortless and uplifting – a track to be played in the club and also on a Sunday drive.  Her voice and demeanor are undemanding yet present, making her sound very easy to connect with because it’s as if we can hear her personality. Plus, she sings too! What’s not to love?

The video quality is an indicator of how music video production in Mzansi is improving. It’s a simple, authentically South African hip hop video that makes the video all about the music, no distractions. The frames and shots are well thought-out, bringing together the culture of hip-hop and South African black culture with an aesthetic that represents Mzansi for real. We look forward to sharing our chat with this #GirlBoss who inspires us by constantly being a bona fide version of herself and a breath of fresh air for an industry that is tough for female MCs.

Be sure to check out the Bozza video on YouTube if you haven’t already. You can also stream or buy her track on all leading streaming platforms. Definitely let us know what you think of the song and video! And stay tuned for our talk with Gigi about the state of our culture in this generation.