Sunday, May 29, 2011

You be the judge

Has the invention of the internet merely shone a light on what might have previously been described as "inspiration", the deplorable act of plagiarism ? (James Frey - A million little things "author" anyone?)

Or has it somehow morphed itself into a socially acceptable act given that the world clearly has bigger issues to tackle?

While the 2011 Billboard Music Awards payed homage to modern day music icon Beyonce with kind words from the likes of Barbara Streisand,Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and Stevie Wonders to name a few the internet and its residents had a few less than kind words to say about Beyonce's headlining performance of Run the World.

Many on the web accusing the star of.....gasp! plagiarism

Say it ain't so.

A picture says a thousand word though.

While almost every other industry has a very clear defintion of what plagiarism is and exactly how people who have "difficulty" understanding this act and the ramifications will be dealt with, the music industry still seems to be a few paces behind.

Aaaah yes the music industry, that beacon of honest businessmen, fairplay and honour, obviously has alot to gain from the practice of sampling and covers, because when a modern artist can re-introduce a certified crowd pleaser to a new audience its a win win for everyone involved (except the original artist ofcourse), especially the record companies who have alot to gain as the owners of publishing rights of in many cases both artists.

So when an artist draws....well let's just call it "inspiration" from another artist does it matter that the latter artist belongs to the same generation and therefore performs to the same audience and in the case of Beyonce vs Lorella Cuccarini were do choreography, stage art and art direction factor into the plagiarism argument?

The appropriate guidelines will probably not be drawn up anytime soon, but the debate will definetely rage on.

Watch a clip of the much debated Beyonce Billboard 2011 performance vs Lorella Cuccarini's 2010 Sanremo Music Festival performances below.

Aswell as word from legendary musician Prince giving his views on fellow musicians being "inspired" by his work.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Thinker...Thinking

The Thinker...Thinking from Wick Beaver's provocative Rodin-inspired show, 
Am in love all over again with Charlie Rose. From Iraq tough-gong on Broadway in the body of a Tiger impersonated by Robin Williams--a man stitched together in a fit of hysterics whose most recent work,  Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo begs nothing short of must-see classic--to dissecting pop culture (curtain raise of The Oprah Winfrey Show) with the intellectual precision of an open-heart New Yorker/New York Review of Books mash-up. How can anyone with even one live connected neuron not get off on such silly smart sweetness? (And btw--the NY leaning intellectual bent is noted and will surely stand corrected, Jozzie here we come, right?)

And Then? As a nod to the animated (and smart) interview of Anna Wintour on The Charlie Rose Show when Yves Saint-Laurent retired. As an acknowledgement of the intellectual beauty behind the lines of fine design. If you're a YSL fan, you want to see this interview. The beautiful photograph? Laurence Bena├»m. Courtesy

And then there was Kelefa Sanneh, staff writer for The New Yorker. Sweet jesus even gotta love the way this man thinks. Loved watching his thoughts
possess him in passion across a static screen. And then to find out his dad was Gambia-born and mom is a white South African intellectual? Well...aint nobody said high humour+a fine mind don't come styled in fascinating packages--and I aint even getting started on Sanneh's post-modern intellectual wardrobe.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Designer Spotlight : Gert Johan Coetzee

SAMA host Bonang Matheba in several Gert Johan Coetzee designs
Born and raised in the tiny farm town of Koster in South Africa ,Gert Johan Coetzees farm days are far behind him.

The designer achieved a milestone in his career when South African Music Awards host and brand ambassador Bonang Matheba was dressed exclusively by the designer for the award show.

If the STUNNING dresses (and killer stares by the model ) are anything to go by there is ALOT more to come from Joziwoods new IT man.

Dreaming of Morning Light

Morning Light. Photo Courtesy of Annie Escobar/ListenIn Pictures.
Where does inspiration come from?
Where do dreams live and what do babies dream at night?
What are you doing with the bountiful creative force raging storms in your mind?
What gave A Peace Treaty Founding Divas Farah Malik & Dana Arbib the creative courage to pursue the birth of their company, which supports beautiful ancient artistry in fragile states?
What makes autumn gold and raindrops dance toward one another before racing down windowpanes?

A Peace Treaty Divas: Farah & Dana. Photo Courtesy of The Wild.
 Why are you alive?  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Is Life?

Tim Hetherington and Partner Idil Ibrahim with Restrepo Team, Academy Awards night. Photo Courtesy Michael Goulding.
I know a beautiful woman. She is Light. Today, she offered a piece of the beauty she shared with her partner, Tim Hetherington. From her, I am learning what it is to love. What it is to live. To give everything of yourself in love and dance, naked against the raw tides of life, whatever they sweep ashore.

From Idil, To Life.
Crowfoot's words are how she chose to remember, "What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." Like Crowfoot, this woman is a warrior. Like Crawfoot, her courageous love (and ours for her) will carry her through.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Color Blocking Power-Divas. LUV It!
Since moving to the united states of nyc and doing what every reasonable one of its citizens does to mark their true cultivation+civilization (ie. giving up t.v ownership), i've had a creeping loneliness surface-- Oprah deprivation! So, you can imagine my horror when i heard her announcement about ending the show--i mean, when she said those words out her mouth did she realize she hasn't interview yours truly yet? And there were supposed to be multiple shows--after all, interviewing a woman like me doesn't just happen nilly willy in a compressed sound bite segment. Ahhh....i'm sure there will still be girl-bonding opportunities, lol. Seriously though, I admire Oprah a lot and her story about the triumph of the human spirit still resonates with me, but i am always tickled by the ardent worship her fans never fail to show, mixed in with this strange I just met you but I love you more than life itself because I know everything there is to know about you Oprah zeal.

But you can't stop praying for even a sprinkle of Oprah's magic Oprah-ness, even if you're a citizen of this great nation of Manahatta. Go ahead, Live Your Best Life, (in an outfit that screams: I'm Alive)!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hi my name is ......and I'm a reality show junkie

Braxton Family Values

Question : Are reality shows the modern girls version of soap operas?

Answer : YES

One of my earliest memories of my grandmother is watching her take her daily soap opera fix from her beloved "The Bold & The Beautiful". During which time we all knew not to interrupt her for ANYTHING!

Cut to 2011 and I'm afraid to say I've inherited the "DON'T INTERRUPT ME WHILE I'M GETTING MY SHOTS IN" club, and there doesnt seem to be any end in sight with producers and channels seemingly determined to re-model the T.V landscape as we know it.

Shows like Braxton Family Values, Harlem Heights and Project Runway are leading the pack with millions of viewers glued to their screens weekly, not to mention the even guiltier pleasure shows Basketball Wives, Mob Wives and Love & Hip Hop.

Never to be outdone  Mzansi isn't far behind with some of their own shows with Running with the Reps, Nonhle goes to Hollywood and Bonang Matheba's B*Dazzled!

Well atleast God will know where to find me when he brings "the rapture".

A Cheeky Story Nandos Brings The Spice. Can't Accuse Them of Anything Less. It's A Chicken Brand my non-SouthAfricans.

Being the country-brand ambassador I is, am always telling people their advertising/marketing campaigns suck and they are 500light years behind mzantsi, where the only reason to turn on the telly is the real inside story, ie. ad space, cuz let's face it--imported american sitcoms when you're craving something local suck and sabc soaps impersonating american sitcoms sucks even more. But those ads man! Remember the Woolies one, "Woolworths (cue music)...the inside story..." with Khanyi Dhlomo? so suave. And who has not laughed off their heinie cracking ju-ju jibes right along Nandos? Vodacom keeps bringing it. Remember the Gogo ads? Now this business, here--we've been having it! And watch out Vodacom, you're about to get Polka-dotted. Hilarious.
Ads Bite. campaign by . "The World’s First Trillion Dollar Advertising Campaign" by TBWA/Hunt Lascaris for Zim newspaper, The Zimbabwean. Photo Credit: sorry, dunno.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wedding Dresses & Million Dollar Dowries

Mbali, center, at her traditional Zulu Wedding to DJ BlackCoffee. Photo Courtesy: Zaronline.

Traditional Sotho Seshweshwe meets Ivory Dreams. 
Photo Courtesy of Designer, Matome Seshoka. As below.
Wedding bells are almost sounding this side of the Atlantic--the summer is famously a busy time for wedding planners. Most western weddings follow the standard bride+groom on wedding cake at rented hall reception formula, but show up at an African wedding and you will definitely leave blown away. A descent hitch by South African standards is at least two days long--at his and her digs. Throw in a western style white reception and you could be looking at a third phat-price tagged day. A cow or something beastly must be slaughtered to give thanks to ancestors and ask for blessings--of course this in addition to the lobola--dowry dude's gotta cough up for his bride. (I've heard figures upward of a million. Em, US Dollars!)

And did I leave out the ever-famous township procession through the streets--white dress and all--bridal party in tow singing "Makoki ke dinako/Well it's time little miss Bride"? If you don't know what I'm talking about these pictures speak for themselves, especially DJ BlackCoffee's Soweto wedding with so much family sharing the limelight. African weddings above all else are about families becoming one. According to our book, you're signing up for the fancy dress and the tipsy uncle who almost painted it afresh with red wine and of-course the nosy mother, ever-dropping in at dinnertime brother, his sweet seven baby sisters and that fresh crop of just-discovered cousins waiting under every success with money you'll encounter. So cheers, Little Ms. Bride. It's All Love!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Soweto Pantsula Choreographs Beyonce

Dancing Queens. Dancing-Kwaito Car Washers from Khayelitsha, Cape Town.  Photo Courtesy Per Englund from his beautiful book, The Beautiful Struggle

Yeah, so clearly i've got something of a disease. Who but teen girls and me;) memorize dance moves to Beyonce's just dropped single (laptop in one hand/body gyrations in other) the night the video is released? And who but me would drool and drool (instant repeat in hand) seeing our South African pantsula boys teach B. something about Msowawa jive?

Pantsula Jive. Now. Photo Courtesy Per Englund. 
Sickened with straight out respect for the choreography in Run The World (GIRLS)!
The first 1.42min dance sequence are brought to you live by Soweto. Those dance moves were baked in Meadowlands/Orlando/Pimville/Diepkloof and Soweto proper before augmentation and adaptation. Soweto. We so run this.

Rocks RUN This


Am tearing it up listening to Ms.B's Girls!Who Run The World. Hot Shifting, Seriously. And while we're on the Women World Domination tip, heard a fascinating NRP story yesterday about Germany's lack of stilettos in corporate board rooms. To sum, of 900+ corporate heads running Germany's top 200 firms, a paltry 29 are women! Mad Crazy right? What's really crazy is that while women have been a silent driver of the world economy in the twentieth century--in 2006 The Economist reported women did more for global economic growth in the past decade than all of China--women's contributions are not reflected in senior leadership. It's like being badass but not seen. Take African women, revered in a Xhosa adage as the rock you don't wanna mess with. Known badass, no question. But still grossly underrepped in top positions of power. I hear (and love) Beyonce's call for chest-pumping, but as I thump my hips to the song's sick beat, I am so painfully cognizant of just how much work needs to be done for girls to truly run this world. And enuf with talking about/report on and dissecting the problem. With the Society for Innovation in Africa (SoFIA), I'm rolling up my sleeves and saying let's do something about this already!
That's why I'm LUVIN this song. A call to action, ie. world domination(and some mean, back-flipping dancing).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BackPage Babe

Yup! We're bringing back a classic--DRUM Magazine inspired BackPage Babe features, of course reimagined for this other self we have become over the years. And for those of you who don't know DRUM, stick around--will post a full education soon.

Below is my girl turned fly mom shouldda been turned model, Penny K. blinging out country style glamour. And the gorgeous & black drama is from another fashionista's traditional Tswana (South African--those are my peeps, reppin'!) wedding. Cannot wait to drop the bridal dress here. Stay Tuned!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Don't Try This At Home...

Timothy Bloom feat. V. Bozeman, Til The End of Time. Sacred Provocateur/Brown Sugar Beautiful. Raw. Don't Try this at home, People. May lead to an explosive weekend...Let's get this party started. It's Friday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Viva la Mexico!

Gianfranco Reni Designs. Image: AP

Every year is the same story with me--in a fit of excitement and a little help from something deep red and rich in tannins--I start blurting about Happy Cinco de March or April. But today my friends, I am right. It's the fifth of May and that means, dear non-Mexican reader, Cinco de Mayo.  In the US, Spain, and throughout the diaspora, a celebration of Mexican heritage. In Mexico, a nod to a military defeat of French troops in 1862.

Tony Gleaton's "The Marriage of Maurillio and Teresa" 
Courtesy of the National Museum of Mexican Art
In KoKOFIFI land, an opportunity to channel all things Mexican and large looming in popular culture--Gianfranco Reni (whose designs are so A. McQueen provocative to me), Frida Kahlo (goddesses have indeed graced this earth) and where would pop culture be without soap star turned Hollywood Heiress Salma Hayek? And also a nod to our shared ancestry. Yes, Mexico is home to a rich, if overlooked, line of African descendants. Mexican independence heroes Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon and Vicente Guerrero were both, in part, African descendants. And modern Mexico still has it's own equivalent of Brazil's Bahia--Veracruz along the gulf coast is nestled with towns such as Yanga, named in honour of a restless leader from present day Nigeria. So when you raise your glass celebrating Cinco de Mayo today, don't forget that the real revolution is a battle for minds--making you think it's Cinco de Mayo on March 5 (with the help of good Tequila) and sticking Mexico in a colorless check box.

Viva la Mexico!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WANTED: InVogue Writers

An unfazed Fey shot for Vanity Fair by Annie Liebowitz.
So you have a lot of things in common with Tina Fey--you're covertly sexy, you're wicked smart but don't need to whip everyone over the head with it and you're miraculously, refreshing in your take on all things fashion and all things...well, there really are no other things, are there? And you're funny, or at least you have a curious sense of humor. And of course, you're a writer!  Why not make it official by contributing to KoKOFIFI? We are expanding our editor's desks in Johannesburg&Cape Town, Accra, Nairobi and Lagos. If you've got the chops to head up one of these desks, send us a sample blog on the hottest fashion trend you see in your city today. Keep the post to three paragraphs, write with a thick accent that's entirely in your own voice and channel Tina Fey wit minus the 30Rock wardrobe. Can't wait to hear from you:


If you're in Jozzie Friday, the smart kids at TwentyTwo are hosting a Fashion Feast that's something like Jozzie's Night Out. Don't miss! Shop. Drink. Eat Local--Dis Lekker.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ThinkBack.LIVE NOW.LookForward

And i love the kids behind the iHeartSoweto almost more! Check out ThisSocialJamSession LOVE! Props for Pic: Uviwe.
Grafitti Lives in Soweto. Courtesy Flickr, Demonterious.

Mali Takes on HipHop. Image Courtesy, Flickr, Shoobali.

On at NYC's MoMa right now through May 30: Looking at Music 3.0, a retrospective of HipHop. Loved hearing Cey Adams break down how the movement has changed over more than 20 years--how more than 20 years ago graffiti artists couldn't get any kind of play from major museums and one curator told him to come back if his stuff was still culturally relevant in 20 years. Twenty years on and counting, HipHop still hogging the mic/dance floor+walls. Guess you just gotta see some music to believe it, huh?

Is Everything Everything?

Images Courtesy of Blitz the Ambassador.

Kate now Catherine. Gadaffi's son falls, Trump's foxy hair is trumped publicly and Obama delivers Osama. Three days, people. These are heady times. Am grounded by simple truths and the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

L. Boogey Sparks. Image Courtesy of The Comet.
 Everything is Everything. Am also grounded by minds that meld the thickness of our times into rhymes moving us forward by reminding us where we been and where we at. Ghana-born Blitz the Ambassador's album, Native Son drops today. Seriously people, not since Lauren Hill has anything HipHop been on steadier rotation in my ears. Pure sick genius. Purely and Simply. Speaking the truth of our times.