Out & about: Focalistic’s ‘canon seasoning’ hard to resist

“Ase trap tse ke pina tsa ko kasi” (“This is not trap music, it is songs we listen to in the township”) — is a Focalistic coined ‘Sipitori’ clarion audible gimmick-phrasal idiom.

A quantum tattle of some sort, a macho vaunt of stimmlage vibes to raise the pulse — put across in an indigenous language that blends various languages, popular in the townships of Pretoria.

To tee up this terrific voltaic and magnetic parlance — filtered down in the layers of pitch-black synthesizers, off-the-cuff utopian pads, and volatile log percussion instrument basslines — are scorching superimposed halo staunch grooves. The most attractive jump from the blocks by the ‘Ke Star’ and ‘Sjepa’ South African hit lord, in a fit international amped dormy ditty craft scene.

Focalistic, a Best African Act nominee at MTV Europe Music Awards (2021) — with a celestial point of esteem not to be eluded by fortune — lit up Pretoria National Botanic Gardens a fortnight ago today. A full house in attendance provided such a lift to a superbly piercing one-man show dubbed ‘Straata Nation Address’. On a night that will everlastingly be etched in the annals of Amapiano chronicle, the chief lyricist lionised his meteoric ascension to high status in his hometown.

Known off-stage as Lethabo Sebetso, Focalistic established his own record label — 18 Area Holdings — in 2020. Drifting away like the leaves in the fall, the remix to his banger ‘Ke Star’ (‘I’m the Star’) — featuring Disc Jockey Vigro Deep and Davido an American-Nigerian vocalist, composer and record producer — was hatched worldwide in February of 2021. Placing position 16 on Billboard Top Triller Global chart in the United States!

Prior to that befitting massive step up, Focalistic whelped two homeward-bound work of sounds ‘Quarantined Tarantino’ his EP (extended play), and a beguiling cantable offering called ‘Sghubu Ses Excellent’. Obviously barging through prominence, having received seven nominations at the 2021 edition of the All Africa Music Awards, his studio EP titled ’President Ya Straata’ was foaled alongside its lead anthem — ‘16 Days No Sleep’. A single he joined forces with record producer Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa a record producer, Disc Jockey and vocalist, as well as musical group Mellow and Sleazy.

Dare to dream, March of last year witnessed Focalistic come face-to-face with the crowd at O2 Arena in London alongside Davido. A feat which gave life to his 12-city North American tour — where he shuffled stops in Washington D.C, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Minnesota, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta and New York City.

Ultimately, the loudest noise of the last 12-month came from Focalistic’s studio album drop (November 18). Named ‘Ghetto Gospel’, this racy creation was calved slightly under a month after the release of the opus sculpt’s lead ballad ‘Tabela Hape’ — on which the panoramic winged artist enlisted the astral qualities of hearable sensation brainiacs Kabza De Small, Mellow and Sleazy, as well as Myztro a musical artist.

Frenetic panache veering anticipation for the ‘Straata Nation Address’ into reaching a fever pitch, Focalistic — also referred to in a goal-directed mode as President ya Straata (The President of the Streets) and oftentimes as Venda Maradona — summoned his loyal buffs, and they answered his call in overwhelming numbers. The open-air venue, bathed in neon lights and pulsating with Amapiano rhythms, saw 15,000 beat revelers whipped into a manic disorder.

Gayly witnessing an unforgettable night of jams and unity, the event not only asterisked a career milestone for Focalistic, but likewise coagulated his position as the President of the Streets. The young ace spared no effort in delivering a rousing show that would carve his name in the records of South African musical history.

Exerting coveted camaraderie, not to be left out in bringing the electrical energy to light up the stage are some of the country’s — more than hunky-dory — thunder keys and trills godheads. Thumping, the line-up read like a ‘who’s who’ of Mzansi lullabies, and specifically Amapiano royalty.

Pabi Cooper a musical artist, Disc Jockey Tyler ICU, Murdah Bongz a Disc Jockey and record producer, dynamic duo Mellow and Sleazy, as well as a G-Tech 2bit and DJ Tshegu (a magazine that is created to document dance music culture in South Africa) — were handed a licence to thrill.

Stellar performances by Blxckie a rapper and songwriter, singer and rapper Sjava, as well as musical artist DJ PH — found much cyclicity to leave the large contingent of enthusiasts sweaty and progressively erectile. Deeply caught in the eye of the magic lingering the mystery of the ministry of Amapiano!

Premium talent getting lethal supremacy, Focalistic topped that with surprise guest acts from musical artists Ch’cco, M.J, as well as EeQue — who with a standout calibre and aspiration to compass the crowning, had banter between them. And besides making it an inevitability for — fist whooping — chanted composition protagonists to stare in awe, the prospect of the furore — to the delight of the entertainers — sent fanatics into raptures.

For her, scintillating rapper and television presenter Moozlie, who is widely regarded as the Skhanda queen, came to do what she did — to administer her MC (master of ceremony) duties domineering, and have fun.

To blow out of the water and sharpen their focus, while every track in Focalistic’s catalog is a smash canon, the tonal pattern stalwarts’ favourite of the night was undoubtedly ‘Kekeleza’. The meticulous assemblage’s euphoria reached a crescendo, as they sang along to every word of this chart-topping number.

An innovative and gallant move for Focalistic to make, the production value of the social event left gaga rooters in wonderment, as a levitating stage added an otherworldly dimension to the execution. Putting on a star display, the high spot of the night came when a choir took to the stage to belt out breath-taking renditions of Focalistic’s iconic tunes, leaving the bunch spellbound. In a mirrorlike bit, hotshot Focalistic exclaimed his grateful reaction.

“In all of these videos, I keep remembering that my mom was watching me perform for the first time. I can’t say thank you enough! History was made, everything is possible with God!! Botanical Gardens 2023 — 15,000 voices!!!” Focalistic said.

In any case stepping off a vane away from mutineers in the four-ply of a dustup, so as to saddle horse a hoot to unlock means to outsize trenches on the perimeter — Focalistic’s ability to sniff stuff out permits him to mitigate way worse than expected consternation, thereupon, staking claim to his flood tide.

Robust, his conjured sold-out ‘Straata Nation Address’ was more than just a concert; it was a coy yet terse cultural phenomenon. A testament to the power of euphony, and a jubilation of one of South Africa’s nitid melodic experts!

  • Grant Moyo is a prolific writer, innovative media personality, entrepreneur and a creative artist who is passionate about using his creative mind for the betterment of society.
  • Follow him on X (formerly Twitter): @TotemGrant

Related Topics