New sponsor, new date, new feel – hip hop festival End of Days returns as Back to the City

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Hennessy Back to the City is back after two and half years
Hennessy Back to the City is back after two and half years

Back to the City is, well, back. 

In 2019, after a few successful festivals, the organisers of the massive musical feast announced that 2021 would be the last year for Back to the City. 

They wanted to focus on getting the hip-hop museum up and running and give other people a chance to take the festival to the next step.

Then Covid-19 happened and the world was put into lockdown. So they couldn't finish the festival off in the style they wanted. 

The international hip-hop festival is now back, with a new name - Hennessy Back to the City - and a new date, 1 October instead of the usual 27 April. 

Hip-hop veteran Osmic Menoe says they had planned to take a break from hosting the festival to focus on the museum and growing the hip hop awards because his team works on all three.

“It was called the End of Days because we were busy with the museum and involved in other things and now we found a different purpose. Two and half years change a lot of perspectives and now we trying to come back with a bigger bang because we found a different motive. We were also giving other people a chance to host the festival because it can’t only be us, but now we can see that no one is willing to take the stress. We will take the stress and show people that this is our flavour,” Osmic says.

Now that the museum is almost up and running after the damage during the Covid-19 lockdown, they can set the festival in motion and grow it to be a heritage event that doesn’t only have hip-hop acts but as well as other South African artists who are making music of other genres to be part of this event.

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Osmic says planning an event of this magnitude after a two-year break is hard work. He has a vision for the event and can't believe what is has grown to mean in pop culture.

He says after every setback, one needs to find a way to dust themselves and come back stronger.

“It feels very stressful to be back because two and a half years makes you forget what stress is involved in putting this together. Also, now a lot has happened especially the mass shooting in some events which also affects us now and makes things a little hard, so we are adjusting and trying our best because we are always driven by passion. And being driven by passion, you can conquer any moment,” he says.

He says the event is now around heritage and the pride of being African and showing the world what they are about.

"I think it is now important to start conquering the world because that is the mission, the mission is to show the world that this is what we do, and we do it at the highest level. And there is no difference between us and something that is happening in Hollywood," he tells Drum.

The heritage segment has been part of the event for a few years and has paid homage to kwaito legends and artists such as Zola, Boom Shaka, and Shwi noMtekhala, who have all performed at the Back to the City stage.

This year Mapaputsi and Alaska will be gracing the stage.

Osmic says they are saddened by the death of the Alaska member Thabo 'Crazy T' Tsotetsi because he was excited to perform at the festival.

“This year we are about celebrating and showing our strength to the nation, and it is celebrating our heritage. For fourteen years we have been celebrating our freedom now we need to start recognising, understanding, and embracing our heritage. We recognise the great artists of yesteryears and we don’t want them to feel like people do not care about them, especially in entertainment. One year maybe we will have Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse or Mahotella Queen just to continue with the appreciation to the greats and it will be continuous.”

Hennessy Back to the City will take place at Maryfitz Gerald Square in Newtown, Joburg on 1 October.

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