Thousands of hip hop enthusiasts came to celebrate Freedom Day at the Back to the City festival on the 27th of April 2018. The annual event was held at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg.
An early morning discussion was held to deliberate on issues affecting the Hip Pop industry in the country. Among the speakers were Creative Workers Union of South Africa’s (CWUSA) Oupa Lebogo and rapper Tumi “Stogie T” Molekane.
The main event, started behind schedule due to the late stage setup as a result of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) strike. Local heavyweights Cassper Nyovest, who was dressed as a farmer, performed crowd favourites such as ‘Ksazobalit’, and Ricky Rick’s performance became intense when he took his fans down memory lane on how he was booed while performing for the first time at the festival.
Some of the up-and-coming acts put out immaculate performances, despite the lukewarm response by the crowd that was unaccustomed to their songs. International rapper Pharaohe Monch gave a nostalgic performance with fans belting out every single line of his classics.
Back to the City creative director Rashid Kay said the festival would be hosted for the last time in 2021.
“After 15, years we are shutting down Back to the City. It’s time to pass the torch to the next generation. We hope the young ones have been learning,” he added.
Patrons were captivated by the skillful BMX riders, skaters, break dancers and freestyle footballers including graffiti artists and the local street fashion on site all representing the theme “Freedom of Self”.
The festival started in 2007 under a bridge on the corners of Henry Nxumalo and Bree streets with only 3 500 people in attendance. This year, over 25 000 people showed up at the cultural hub to celebrate freedom of self.