Hip Hop clothing store, Amerikana, hosted their first Freestyle Fridays event this past Friday in Newtown, Johannesburg.
The freestyle element of rap is one of the most exciting: it’s spontanteous, unpredictable and encapsulates the subtle edge and captivating delivery in the chasm that distinguishes your MCs from regular old rappers.
In just the first month of 2016, South African rap is in full force, and with the emergence of freestyle fridays at different spots in GP – Galxboy and now Amerikana – the rest of the first quarter, and possibly even the rest of the year, isn’t looking dull to say the least.
Amerikana‘s move from Braamfontein saw the store (stocking the dopest threads from the USA and even some local brands such as Butan) take on a space in which their desired target market would more easily be able to get the goods. For them, the inception of Freestyle Fridays is a way of bringing in more attention to the store. For you, it’s an excuse to not attend the same Friday spots, partaking in forced conversations and listening to music you might not usually listen to, but rather spend the beginning of your weekend indulging in the rawness of the everyday rappers all around you.
January 29th. Newtown Junction. Raps, raps and more raps. Peep the chat with Neo aka TopG, one of the Amerikana co-owners…
How did you come up with the concept?
TOP-G We came up with the concept this month to promote the shop. Most people know the store from Braam – we just moved here, so we wanted to let the Newtown community know that we’re here.
So is Freestyle Fridays going to be a regular thing?
TOP-G Yeah, it’s going to be a regular thing. It’s a monthly thing – every month end.
Why did you decide to have a rap event? Why not focus it on techno, pop or house music?
TOP-G The store is mainly based on Hip Hop culture. We have hip-hop clothing for females and for males and it’s mainly for the urban lifestyle or street wear – that’s what were really pushing, because Hip Hop is closer to street knowledge and street culture than anything else.
What are your thoughts on the Joburg Hip Hop scene – be it the clothing or even the music?
TOP-G So far so good hey. I like what everyone is doing. I like that people can take American sounds and rap in their own home language. I think some rappers suffer from one thing: they sound like people from the USA. They forget that when people from the USA come this side, they want rappers that are different. So, we need to have a tourist attraction type of vibe, and introduce new languages to foreigners and make foreigners feel at home with our music. I’m liking what they’re doing.
What is Amerikana bringing that your other clothing stores don’t have – particularly in Joburg?
TOP-G We bringing something really different. The fashion is within the Hip Hop borders, but we’re really different. What you see in here is new stuff: we try not to be the same. You know, in Joburg you can find a lot of dope things in the streets but yet you can still find the same thing at the shop, so we try and stay away from what people can duplicate. We sell one of each just to make sure that people have limited edition of our clothing.
Is it not a lot more difficult, though, when your stock is coming from overseas?
TOP-G It makes it difficult, but at the same time we’re different because that’s what we’re trying to maintain: we’re trying to maintain the fact that we’re a hip-hop shop that doesn’t sell what other hip-hop stores sell. Nowadays you can find the same thing more and more at every shop, so that’s why we need to go overseas and get the clothing.
What are some of the things that the store has coming up in 2016?
TOP-G We’re growing. We’re going hard. Now we’re gonna start venturing into other cities like Durban and Cape Town. People in Durban are really loving the social media page; we’re in demand.
Pictures: D’tsitso for The Influence and Featured SA