International Women’s Month Spotlight: Rouge & Shekhinah
For the second of our International Women’s Month Spotlight series we shine light on not one but two females. Both hailing from South Africa these two females are both on the rise and are killing it in their own way. With debut albums behind both these artists it is limitless where they can go. Both are different in their own with Rouge being a female rapper who takes inspiration from artists such as Lauryn Hill and has become an artist to watch for in terms of the rap scene. And Shekinah who blew the nation away with her 2017 hit song Suited. Both these females represent the new generation of artists coming from the African continent.
As a place, South Africa has become one of the cultural touch stones of Africa. Beneath its destinations and its history, lies a music scene growing like no other. Whilst we have the Afro beats scene coming out of places like Nigeria and Ghana, there is another major player when it comes to music in Africa - the Southern Capital of the continent.
With a musical presence that is so rich that has seen many artists pay homage to the country, and becoming a stop to make on various tours and festivals, not only does it attract international artists, it is also confident about creating its own type of unique artistry.
With a music scene that ranges from hip-hop, rap, house, pop, and its local musical styles, one thing you can’t fault the nation for is its celebration of music and the appreciation and life it gives to anybody that stumbles upon it. Just as we have seen the rise of phenomenal talent in the UK, the same is true all the way on the other side of the Atlantic.
One example of this breakthrough talent is, Rouge. The female rapper who is breaking out on the hip-hop scene. Alike much of the rest of the world, the South African hip-hop scene is heavily male-dominated, so it’s refreshing to see a female artist make her voice heard and doing it independently.
She released her debut album, The New Era Session, back in 2017 which went on to be widely successful in South Africa. She is not only killing the game but she is slaying it. As a body of work it is what you would expect from a debut album and is multi-layered and isn’t afraid to talk about different issues that ring true to Rouge’s life experiences.
She is just one example of the artists disrupting the scene is Johannesburg. Another artist is Durban-native, Shekhinah. Another artist coming up in her own way, having already collaborated with some of the biggest South African DJs including Sketchy Bongo, Black Coffee and DJ Sliqe. However, it all changer for when released her debut single, ‘Suited’ in the summer of 2017 shortly followed by her debut album, Rose Gold – which went on to become certified gold in South Africa.
So what do these artists from two different genres of music have in common. Forget the fact that they are both females killing it, they are authentically themselves. What both ladies have displayed is the deep pride they have for being South African, representing their country and making sure that comes across in their music. For Rouge, she wants people to know, “that I love what I do and I will represent Africa and women to the best of my capabilities.”
How her culture and being South African impacts and comes across in her music, she says that they go hand-in-hand, and for her, it is simply about telling stories she can relate to. “I am first generation South African so I am able to tackle South African stories and African stories in its entirety. I have the blessing of being able to represent more than one country through my music”.
For Shekhinah, “I hope to achieve growth. I hope I inspire more people to make pop and R&B music. From the rest of the world, I want the world to hear more of the music coming out of South Africa and I hope I get to work with international artists and just make music everywhere. That’s all I want to do.”
The levels and dimensions that these ladies display on their music is not anything that is new and in fact in the past year has been celebrated and noticed internationally, all you have to do is take a look at recent influences that have come from this part of the world. Most notably is the soundtrack for hit movie 2018 Marvel movie ‘Black Panther’, whose soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy for Album for the year featured not one but four artists hailing from the African nation - Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Yugen Blakrok, and Saudi. The album curated by hip-hop rapper Kendrick Lamar, definitely signifies just how much talent is being recognised from the nation.
In terms of the growing genres and styles, there has been some western influence in terms of the growing and developing hip-hop scene. Artists such as AKA, Cassper Nyovest, NASTY C have taken the lead as the powerhouses of the scene and as for the females the likes of Nonku Phiri, Gigi LaMayne, Nadia Nakai are on par, also tearing up the scene. Speaking on this Rouge says, “It is growing faster than other genres. As well as the leading genre, not just in South Africa but in Africa in general.” With that being said there is so much potential for new artists coming through and wanting to share their stories.
And of the musical diversity, Shekhinah spoke on the music coming out of Africa, saying it is, “very vibrant, we have a lot to offer because we have a lot of different languages and music is popular in every language. There are all sort of different genres and types of music. I’d say that my music falls into R&B Pop, but you also have Hip-Hop and House and different local styles and genres. Everybody does what they know and it makes for a lot of different types of music.”
The one thing that connects both these artists aside from being South African is that both want to make music that make people feel something, African artists are here to show what their continent has to offer and bringing a new vibe to various music scenes as they ascend.
Words: Seneo Mwamba