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Photography by Thanda Kunene

SoKool is why Durban Remains so Cool

When it comes to finding new hip-hop in Durban (and SA), DJ SoKool’s Move Hip-Hop blog has been the go-to resource since before it was even called that. Through her blogging, DJing and now producing for Jnr De Rocka’s Hip-Hop sessions on Gagasi FM, SoKool has been feeding Durbanites with the tastiest dishes of local audio cuisine. SoKool has been influencing people since before influence was measured by how many Instagram followers you bought. We get to know the woman making Durban shine behind the scenes and right in the middle of the shot.

So, what’s your origin story? How’d you get into DJing and blogging? Which came first and did one feed the other?

Well, I’m originally from a small town called Gingindlovu and I moved to Durban when I was 17 with the folks. I started Djing because I had a crush on this DJ and the only way I was going to get to hang out with him is if I asked him to teach me how to DJ. I loved how it made me feel so I stuck to it even after I took an L from my crush, lol. I started blogging in 2015 after I had started DJing because I couldn’t find a website where I could go to download all 031 Hip-hop songs I needed. I had just started submitting my 031connect mixes to Nanda FM (which consisted of 031 Hip-hop only) at the time and I was struggling to find music, so I started a blog where someone who was interested in finding Hip-hop music from Durban could go to check out the talent we have. So you could say that one fed the other.

How’d you get the job producing for Gagasi FM and how are you finding it?

I approached the presenter of the show Jnr De Rocka for the position. He took a while to get back to me but eventually, he gave me a shot. Said he’ll try me out for 2 weeks and I’ve been producing the Gagasi FM Hip-hop Sessions every Thursday since. It’s pretty cool that I get to pick out music that so many people will end up listening too. I’ve always enjoyed finding new music or discovering a new musician. That’s why I stuck to the DJing. The show allows me to do the same thing; discover and play music but it’s just on a larger scale.

What does producing at a radio station entail?

Hmmm… It entails curating how every minute of the show is going to go. From organising what songs are going to play to which artists will be interviewed and also what topics to discuss or what features we going to have on the show. Basically gotta make sure that the show goes smoothly.

You’ve dedicated your life to sharing music with others, keeping the Move Hip-Hop blog regularly updated, producing for Gagasi FM and DJing regularly. What makes you so passionate about sharing music with others?

Music has the power to make you feel, make you think and even help you learn. Without music, I think the world would be a pretty dull place man. I have songs that have literally saved my life. I love how that I can bring out a certain emotion when I play for people. Love that I can help someone who is super talented, but slept on, get a platform whether it be radio or the website. This city has so much untapped talent that needs to be shared or documented and I hope that I am working enough so that I can do more for the talent somehow.

How do you find time for everything and do you ever worry about doing too many different things, or is it easier because it’s all related to each other in some way?

I actually have so much time that I could be putting to good use but my laziness gets the better of me. Even with all the things I’m involved in I still have so much time that I could try do more with and I’m working on using my time wisely. It also helps I guess everything I do does indeed relate to the other. The DJing, website, and radio all come together. I’m blessed to have a job that doesn’t demand too much of me as well, so I get time to do the things that set my soul on fire.

Everyone in Durban seems to have a different viewpoint on whether the scene is growing or if there’s a glass ceiling that can only truly be broken in Jozi. What’s your take?

I don’t believe in any glass ceiling that can only be broken in Jozi. I think the scene here is growing. We’ve come a long way. The fact that we have options now is definitely a sign that we growing. There is so much that we can do for this city art wise while we also grow our art or brand, it just takes patience, consistency, and foresight. There are frustrating things about this city but every city has its frustrations. Always think that if we do not help grow the scene into what we want it to be then how are we going to witness the kind of music or shows that we want. If all the creatives leave the city to break a ‘glass ceiling’ in Jozi who will nurture and build the scene we want to have here? I also believe that if you can make it in this city, in Durban, in your neighbourhood, that you can make it anywhere! Conquer your neighbourhood and the world is yours, if that’s what you going for.

What are the best and worst things about being a female DJ in Durban?

It’s frustrating, I guess, that one only gets mad bookings in August, lol. Think in terms of being a female DJ, that’s the only problem I have. The other problems aren’t really gender-specific. We all go through them… Male and female. The worst, promoters usually book the same people so it’s a little tough to get on the roster. The payment is always an issue really… Either late or none at all. The best part is that the city is small so if you doing a great job word gets out quicker.

As anyone who follows you on social media knows, you love your booty. You even call yourself the Big Booty Thug. What makes the booty such a sacred thing to you?

Lol, the booty is my gimmick. It’s merely just a body part that increases appeal. Most people think I have a pretty cool body so I use that to my advantage.

You’re also big on staying fit and body positivity, on the whole, do you have any tips for those looking to get fit but find the challenge daunting?

Find a physical activity that you love doing. Whether it be dance or jogging or cycling and do that as often as you can. If you don’t have one pick one and just be disciplined about it.

Who do you think will be the next big acts to come out of Durban?

Whoah!! I think I have a list so let me just list like 5. Rhea Blek, Zanda Zakuza but she’s almost there so lets rather say Artchild. Snapbvck, Holly, Pepe Gee and Khumz ow, ow and um… Goldenblack, and Bliq. Ok, that’s more than 5 but yeah… This city is full talent man!

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