”Written bySaien Benjamin
Cotton Fest CPT, a beautiful showcase of South African Hip-Hop talent and The Creative Scene
Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending the first edition of Cotton Fest CPT, and let me tell you it did not disappoint. My excitement had been building since the event was announced, I think I’ve rarely been as hyped for a festival. Cotton Fest is a Hip-hop and fashion festival that was founded by the late rapper Riky Rick in 2019.
He was one of the biggest names in the South African music and fashion scene, and had a huge influence on shaping the next generation of South African Hip-hop. Riky’s vision was to provide a platform for talented South African musicians, fashion designers, and other local creatives, to showcase themselves to a wider audience.
Cotton Fest started out in Joburg, where Riky lived, but he had spoken for a long time of wanting to bring it to Cape Town. Last weekend that finally came to fruition.
When I arrived I was immediately awestruck by the impeccably stylish outfits that the festivalgoers were rocking. From designer and local brands to thrift wear, everyone brought the heat with their unique self-expression through fashion. It was also great to see so many dope local brands like Broke, Illucid Apparel, and Sol-Sol as well as clothes from the Puma x Cotton Fest collection.
The first part of the day was filled with up-and-coming performers, providing them with an opportunity to display their talent on a bigger stage. The Street Stage in particular showcased a lot of younger artists. Some of the best performers from the morning and afternoon were, Laudable, Orish and SimulationRXPS.
I was somewhat surprised to see such a big-name artist perform so early, but it was definitely a good surprise. His high-energy performance really got the crowd going, and his charisma on stage really stood out as he had the whole audience interacting. Lucas had the entire crowd rapping with him to his hit songs, “Slide”, “The Views” and “Without me”.
K Keed, one of the best up and coming SA rappers was another highlight with her intricate wordplay and catchy punchlines over bass heavy trap beats, which reminded me a bit of Rico Nasty. “Vitamins”, my favourite track from her set, perfectly showcased her unique cadence and flow.
At around six, satisfied that I had taken my fair of notes, I decided to go check out the bar. As one would typically expect at a festival, there was a fair wait to get to the front of the queue and finally get served. But I was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable drinks prices. It also provided an interesting opportuinty to see which artists people in the queue were most excited to rush back to see.
I had an interesting chat with a stranger I met in the line, who said I looked liked Hector Bellerin, which if you know, is about the best compliment you could give me. So anyhow this dude started telling me how hyped he was for Focalistic’s set. I’d only previously heard him featuring on Riky Rick’s “Ungazincishi” but I’d been impressed by what I heard. Focalistic certainly lived up to the hype, rapping over Amapiano and house beats with a smooth flow. “Pele Pele” really fit the festive mood and had everyone in the “Ke Dezemba” spirit.
Shekinah was another of the more well know performers, having made her name back in 2012 on SA Idols and since establishing himself as a fixture of South African Pop and R&B with hits like Suited and Back To The Beach(her collaboration with Dj, Sketchy Bongo) becoming radio staples. Her performance was superb with her beautifu, soulful vocals complimented perfectly by her backing band.
Blxckie is already part of the upper echelon of SA Hip-Hop, with his Nasty C collab Ye(x4) off his debut album B4Now going double platinum. He showcased his versatility, ranging from trap bangers like “Big Time Sh’lappa” and “Uppity” to more melodic offerings like “Hold” and “Kwenzekile” which showcase his singing ability. At his best his fast paced raps and clever punchlines are matched by few other South African rappers.
“We never die, We multiply.”
There was a very welcoming feel to Cotton Fest and I was able to meet many interesting people and have some fascinating conversations. There wasn’t the same pretentiousness that is often present in the party scene in Cape Town, and I think that is a really positive reflection on the kind of culture that the Fest aspires to create. There was a feeling that everyone there was connected by a shared love of Hip-Hop, fashion and the culture as a whole.
Riky Rick’s vision was to create something new: a melting pot of music, fashion and self expression… that legacy lives on through Cotton Fest and the multiude of artists that Riky mentored and inspired. Youngsta CPT’s touching tribute to Riky Rick titled, “Dear Rikhado, Love Riyadh” provided one of the most emotional moments of the day. Youngsta talks about the impact Riky had on South Africa Hip-Hop and the devastation felt by many. His performance of the song was truly moving and was a perfect tribute to a true legend of South African Hip-Hop
Most of the artists paid tribute to Riky, and shared their sadness at his loss along with how honoured they felt to be a part of his vision of Cotton Fest, and the influence he had on their music careers.
When it was past midnight and much of the crowd was tired and lethargic after over 12 hours of the festival, A-Reece’s closing set brought the venue back to life. His incredible lyricism over boom-bap tracks, along with some more trap oriented offerings had the whole audience rapping along with him. It was definitely the perfect way to end the day off.
Cotton Fest CPT was a glorious experience that showcased everything great about South African Hip-Hop, fashion and culture. Riky Rick may sadly no longer be with us but his legacy still burns bright. As he said “We never die, we multiply”.
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