We Are 3 Kings
Gallo Records is one of South Africa’s big five labels and have made a very grand statement: they have officially announced themselves to be the South African hip-hop’s number one investment partner. This is not an idle boast either, as they’ve consistently supported this fledgling commercial venture that is mzansi hip hop by finding cream talent and cherry topping it with financial and promotional support. There are a number of Jozi’s finest struggling young emcees who are now career emcees thanks to Gallo.
The Three Kings idea at its core is a sales gimmick. It’s a ‘let’s bulk promote’ tactic to ensure that any impact South African hip-hop has on local music history and music sales records is more significant and relates directly back to Gallo. The initiative was spearheaded by the former Gallo boss Sipho Sithole (now of Native Rhythms) and is now continued by the company’s super energetic A and R execs. The Three Kings aims to sell three of Gallo’s hip hop heavyweights to buying fans and make hip hop a sustained industry, not just a profitless trend. Bundled together seemingly like a reality TV boy band is: Proverb who was until recently signed to independent Black Rage Productions, Gallo’s original mass appeal wunderkind Prokid and Mr Selwyn.
Like magic all three just so happened to drop their second albums just in time for the December buying season. All three are ravenous for nationwide superstardom and record-breaking sales. And on the big ‘Three Kings’ launch night I attended, all three were psyched and hyped to belt out, probably for the first time, their repertoire from their spanking brand new albums: Proverb’s ‘Manuscript’, Prokid’s ‘DNA’ and Mr Selwyn’s ‘Zone 5’.
I reckon the Three Kings mid-week launch should be used as a prototype for all future hip-hop launches. Perfectly timed, as the primary target market is on vacation and eager to be entertained, and it was free! The event also served as a hip-hop massive gathering for all the crews that are running thriving hip hop activities in j-section or hustling for a deal from a major. The 985 crew opened for the Three Kings adding a gimmick of the sexy female kind into the mix. Come to think of it the entire affair was riddled with gimmicks with the introduction of the 6-strong PussyCat Doll-esque girl band ‘Rush’ effortlessly snatching it from them all as official ‘music industry gimmick of the year’.
Even so, The Bassline hosted a happy mixed crowd in the hundreds, all slightly intoxicated and very eager to party with their heroes. The line-up order was decided by the Kings themselves which resulted in brave Pro-to-the-verb kicking off the night’s delights with Le Club professor, Mr Selwyn ripping it second and Prokid semi-headlining.
Proverb as usual thrillingly treated his performance like a 45-minute sales pitch followed by a middling performance from Mr Selwyn and finally Prokid who killed it similarly. On stage, almost all the way solo, for the Soweto massive that support the Saudi-western native like their lives depended on it.
Kimberly-born Proverb entry into hip-hop came in the form of a feature on rapper Amu’s single. He soon became ‘that tight featured artist on that really tight track’ that everybody talked about. Proverb and Prokid’s appeal is for the heads, the backpackers who daily hustle a dream to be them. The guys all want be his friend and the girls want him to propose his undying love.
Prokid’s access was all based on his mega hit ‘Soweto’ and since his debut dropped he’s been hypnotising teens and grown men alike; sashaying in and out of Kasi Zulu and English with hook punch lines to make you wanna shout “ooohhhh”. He, like Proverb, has a spark and consistency about them that has their loyal fans coming back for more. And on the night all three of them mastered the all-important DJ and emcee on stage telepathic communication partnership.
There is one question though. Does Gallo mean for us to choose or are we to accept a three-headed monarch. They could rule in unity, like a functional, entertainment version of the Tripartite Alliance. Should we expect a collaboration album with a countrywide, or better yet continental tour? Whatever happens to the Three Kings
Red Everything Movement