This year’s edition of the Back To The City festival was a full-on celebration. After all, it is hip hop’s 50th anniversary.
The festival, hailed as Africa’s largest hip-hop celebration, took centre stage on Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg.
The inception of Hennessy and Back To The City’s partnership last year proved fruitful as this year they went bigger and better with impressive stage designs and performances.
“Hennessy’s involvement adds a unique dimension to Back To The City, and we are proud to have them by our side,” said Osmic Menoe, the founder and director of Back To The City, the South African Hip-Hop Museum, and the South African Hip-Hop Awards.
This year’s edition of Back To The City was one of many global events celebrating 50 years of hip-hop, highlighting the brand’s long-standing association with the genre.
“Our long-standing commitment to hip-hop is a testament to our belief in the power of music and the arts to shape culture and bring people together,” said Lungile Mpharu, Brand Manager at Hennessy.
Last year’s event is quite hard to match. Who can forget how slain rapper AKA stole the show, Cassper Nyovest’s surprise performance after winning his boxing match against Priddy Ugly?
Remember how international rap legends Talip Kweli, Lost Boyz and Keith Murray had the crowd going wild?
But they did, and have certainly shown how they have managed to be a mainstay on the local festival calendar for the past decade.
The festival featured unforgettable performances by US artists such as Mobb Deep’s Havoc, Beatnuts and J Live who took hip hop lovers on a trip down memory lane.
Back To The City brought out Mzansi’s top acts to celebrate hip hop, with a line-up that consisted of artists who have contributed to the genre’s success in the country, from Ifani to Reason (Sizwe Alakine), Big Zulu, Sjava and Stogie T.
They even had a performance from legendary kwaito group, Trompies, who’s members showed they’ve still got those pantsula moves.
Back to the City brought SA hip hop to life through various performances from artists and DJs, who thankfully remembered to include local bangers in their sets.
We get that hip hop originates from America but it never hurts to show Mzansi music love.
Not only did Back to the City bring together hip hop enthusiasts but also fans of the culture from fashion, art, dance and basketball and brands that support the movement.
“Converse has always had a special relationship with Back To The City, as the ethos of both brands are about the culture that has shaped hip hop lovers' taste through music, fashion and sport through basketball,” said Converse SA Marketing Manager, Tebogo Motlhamme.
“These partnerships are important as they present a platform for like-minded people to engage in a space that allows them to be themselves and collectively enjoy the space,” added Motlhamme.
Sprite is one brand that has been walking the journey with Menoe and they keep elevating every year and showcasing the value of the partnership.
“We want to be showing up for the youth, we want the youth to gain access and see different aspects of what it means to break through,” said Ramokone Ledwaba Marketing Director at Coca-Cola South Africa.
With the youth looking for careers outside of the corporate world and turning to music, seeing brands back artists such as Cassper Nyovest shows just how it is possible to offer inspiration to those coming up.
South Africa’s hottest artists, 25K, Touchline, Thato Saul, Maglera Doe Boy and Gigi Lamayne - whom the sound did not favour- had the crowd rapping word-for-word during their performances.
AKA was honoured with a fitting tribute that celebrated his musical legacy, which left many emotional, especially those who witnessed him perform on same stage last year.
The “Hennessy Moment” was a dynamic live experience that celebrated and embodied the essence of hip hop through stunning performances, captivating visuals, and immersive stage production that crowned the night and left attendees in awe.
Kid X, Kwesta, Maggz, Ginger Trill, and Nadia Nakai took hip hop lovers on a trip way back with the performance of the hit classic ‘Amantobazane’
Rapper Moozlie MC’ed the “Hennesy moment” and of course had to bring her swagger to the stage with four outfit changes within a 40-minute set.
Nadia Nakai was left feeling a tad emotional as she performed ‘Dangerous,’ her collaboration with her late boyfriend AKA and Blxckie, and encouraged festival goers to love and cherish the person they have.
A-Reece came out with his limited-edition Hennessy V.S bottle collaboration with Grammy-Award winning icon Nas in hand. Pity his mic stumbled on some technicalities, during his performance.
Rapper Priddy Ugly who recently announced that he will be releasing his final album, got his moment to also shine at Back to the City, before award-winning rapper Kwesta closed off the show.