The Vault: October 2012

The Vault

The past Sunday, after church, I found myself rushing to meet up a friend (hereafter referred to as “my friend”) who was supposed to take me to an event I had only heard of just 15 hours prior. When my friend explained that the event was to be at the Kenya National Archives, I gave her that look that is supposed to tell someone, “is this some kind of a joke?” I had been to the National Archives before, and I did not see how an event would be held there … well, till we got there and were ushered upstairs, where I had never been to. What welcomed us when we got to where the event was to be held was half of the people on the dance floor with Ken the DJ playing Lecrae’s More. And that was my first impression of The Vault.

 The Vault is a bi-monthly gospel hip hop event which gives a platform to up and coming artists as well as seasoned artists to perform. It is held at the Kenya National Archives from 2PM to 6PM and the first hour, dubbed the hype session is a session for the Deejays to do their thing and ensure everyone is kept on their feet. It is the brain child of Dangee, whom I had the opportunity to say hi to thanks to my friend. This is my account of the first, of many subsequent Vault events, that I attended recently.

 My friend had a role to play in the event, and as a result, I got to sit at the VIP with her, how cool. Moreover, since – not being a hip hop fan – I had no idea of the artists who were going to perform, I needed someone in the know to break it down for me and she did a great job. The hype session extended till about 3:30PM and I must say, Ken the DJ is a really really great DJ, considering I had never heard of him. The MC, Othole, a producer, also did his best to hype the crowd. Within no time, the artists started performing.

 SPAT were first on stage because they had to leave early. The event could not have asked for better artists to perform. They did a good job with songs like Don’t Listen, Change and Celebrate keeping everyone on their feet. SoReal performed Let Go – a song I was hearing for the first time, like most songs that were performed, but whose chorus is still stuck in my head. What I liked about him is that he used exactly 10 minutes, which was the allocated time per artist. H3, who I got to hear has a Masters in Finance or something performed No Turning Back (which is a very good song) and Freedom. I am waiting for his new single, Fame, coming out this week. I hope someone will hook me up.

 Other performers included Maluda, who has a Barry White kind of Bass. If there is a guy who kept everyone on their feet, it is this guy. And he did it for a whole 25 minutes. We were introduced to a new artist called Sam who performed Amaizing Grace, another song which is stuck in my head. The fact that he came after Maluda did him little justice in that with all the jumping, most people had decided to take a breather. Moreover, I thought the song was kind of slow so people would not really jump up and down. Nevertheless, it was one of the best songs performed, according to me.

 My friend and I decided to get juice from The Vault Cafe which has other snacks like Hot Dogs, Samosas and Sodas. She complained that the cocktail was not too good, and I could say the same about the passion juice I took, especially considering the price. Next time I will take a soda. Also, I hope they introduce mango juice because my friend likes mango juice. We found Dan-Gee on stage performing Not Guilty and later a remake of the popular Sunday School song “If you are happy and you know.”

 What I will remember for a long long time about this event will be the performance of Nasara. He started with beat-boxing and the guy is like super talented. I had never seen anyone do it like that. Point Black, who is a secular artist, and his friend whose name I cannot remember were invited to freestyle. Again, I think the only place I have seen anyone freestyle better was in 8 Mile and I am not exaggerating. He is that good! He free-styled two songs, Nasara beat-boxing for him, and the second song totally blew me away. Later, Nasara performed Like Christ. Unfortunately, we had to leave just before the main artists of the day, Kelele Takatifu performed.

 Perhaps I should mention the good work done by DJ Priestly and DJ Joel, who were working alongside Ken the DJ; and the event’s sponsors Christ Powered Radio, Kelele Republic, xHoodz, Epic Concerts and Try Crew.

 My parting shot is that there are a lot of positives with the event. The only downside is time management, which I think the organisers should address. The event almost started on time, but some artists took more time on stage than they were allocated. At some point, we were given questionnaires on our view of the event, which I found to be a good way of getting to know how people view the event. You can follow the event on twitter, thevault254 and on facebook. It is an event I would recommend any hip hop fan not to miss. Make it a date on Dec 2 for the next edition.

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Is Language Evolving or Dying? by Alffie

Change the meaning of a word and you change the meaning of the world.

I was fortunate (or unfortunate depending on how you see it) to have an English teacher being my mother. Let me paint the picture, my English was for one particular reason a little less credible than hers..This is the reason:

“My teacher was a white man whose first language was English. I wasn’t taught English by an Omondi, a Kamau or a Wanyama!” She once put it!

We always argued over pronunciation – our favorite being picking into news anchors’ pronunciation & at best painful use of English! If there’s one thing I’m poor at it’s “sheng“. It’s not that I can’t understand it, I just can’t keep up with its dynamism and ambiguity. Plus the idea that it is location specific also presents a barrier for me so I stopped trying.

So why write this post?Well,since the advent of social media especially..the foundation ground of language as we know it has been shifted. This coming as such things as Hip Hop culture already playing its major role in shifting the language dynamics a great deal!

Allow me to highlight several examples:

Hip Hop Influence

The Hip Hop culture came in with creativity at it’s best, especially so through RAP (Rhythm And Poetry). This art form brought with it witty word play, coining of new words like shawty and word use which include redefining the meaning of ordinary words to mean different things. Now when you mention words like COOL, HOT, CAT, ICE, CHIC, FLY, RIDE…etc you have to consider the audience and context because they all refer to different things from what they should originally. One that bothers me a lot is “Hustler”. Hip Hop has made this word mean a person who works hard to get what he has. If my mother hears this word used, she’ll probably go to the dictionary meaning which is not good at all..

This movement also brought along with it new ways of saying ordinary words. The most common being the one widely credited to Snoop Dogg.. one just adds the “izzle” suffix 7 what u get is for example.. for shizzle nizzle,it’s the big Snoop D-O Double Gizzle!

The Computer Age Bug

This is not much but has changed quite a bit of language. Consider for example how much you hear of  “Windows” and immediately think of the normally glass covered opening on a wall of a building?! Windows, Apple, Mouse, Program among many other words don’t get the same automatic ordinary response they were meant to have.

Social Media

This ties in a lot with ‘The Computer Bug’ because simply put, social media rides on the revolutionary wave of the computer age. Social media has made ordinary language entirely different. Now we have initials to represent reactions like LOL for Laughing-Out-Loud, SMH for Shaking My Head probably in disbelief, among many others. It’s influence is so bad that I recently saw a tweet of a friend who ended up saying LOL instead of actually laughing! Other common acronyms and their meanings can be found here.

There’s this expression; “DEAD” (common on twitter! for some reason, Facebook faithful don’t seem to get this concept!!) which implies that one is dying of laughter. Then there’s this expression “Blog whoring”.. my mother would faint on hearing such an expression used in whatever setting! The idea here is that one moves from one blog to another reading as they go along. Now, I understand that, reading someone’s work has been described as intercourse of the minds but “blog-whoring” seems like pushing the envelope, I would think!

At the end of the day, when you meet someone who can’t seem to express themselves well i.e. articulate their thoughts well, speech punctuated by curse words half of which they hardly understand, mixing languages (we’ll meet in the jios, soma the gazeti!!).. you can’t actually blame the above reasons, at least not without considering other factors.

I realised, for example..not many can sit through a British (English) movie mainly because their “English” is “hard”. They would rather watch the American (US) which defiles English as it is! To start pointing out the errors in American English would be a tedious task.

Is it a case of evolved language or death of it?

With all these changes, the world has indeed changed. For the positive or for the negative…I won’t dare to judge!

PS: And before I go, my name is The Alternative Focus not my names are.