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Some brands get it right. They connect with a culture in a way that ensures a win-win situation – the culture and the brand are both strengthened. In a slick new documentary – Brands Doing Dope Sh*t – SlikourOnLife, the creation of businessman and rap artist Siya Metane, gives credit to brands that contribute in a positive way to the urban music culture.

SlikourOnLife is a digital platform for sharing information on urban culture and music, featuring videos and interviews to give substance to the music and musicians that may not have access to traditional platforms, and offering a cohesive and accessible place for their videos.

Introducing the documentary, Siya Metane, well-known in the music industry as Slik or Slikour, says, “Not every brand gets it right. At the same time, the relationships with brands and urban personalities are far from mutually beneficial. Yet some brands make credible strides when collaborating with the South African urban culture. This documentary is an acknowledgement of brands that are moving in the right direction, giving hope to cohesive brand and artist relationships – to build the culture and the brand presence.”

The documentary explores how a brand can produce annual music concerts in a long-term campaign that goes a lot further than simply providing a platform for artists while promoting its own brand. It also examines the concert experience from the perspective of the artists. Says Slikour, “The differentiator is the consistent conflict with brands and culture or creatives and this is one time when there’s been cohesion. The doccie explores the various artists’ encounters with the the brand over the past four years with regards to this campaign.”

He adds that often brands get to tell their stories about their interaction with a culture – and subsequent success as a result. But the story is never told from the culture’s perspective. Brands Doing Dope Sh*t is “like a cultural perspective of brands doing things”; it’s the first of many that will applaud brands that get closer to getting it right. “It’s one thing to complain about those that get it 2 wrong, but it’s more positive to acknowledge those that are trying to get it right,” comments Slikour. “And here the brand gets a pat on the back by the culture itself – not by an agency or the media or marketers at the Loeries or the brand; it’s the people that the brand is engaging with to leverage the brand who have their say.”

The many artists featured in the documentary are of one mind regarding the way the brand is investing in the culture, that it demonstrates great respect for the artists and the culture, that it allows the artists creative freedom in designing their own performances, and more.

Comments include, “It’s pretty cool having a brand that brings you in as to what you would like to see happen on stage. It’s authentic. Normally you just get the booking fees. Any brand that involves itself in hip hop authentically, to me always gets a plus” – Reason (rapper). “Any type of brand that goes against the grain and takes a bold step to push its native culture forwards will always remain the hero – that’s cool” – Siyabonga (Scoop) Ngwekazi (TV presenter).

The documentary also emphasises how the brand gives equal standing to local and international artists on stage – the local artists aren’t supporting acts for the international headliner, they get the same support – and what that means to the local (often surprised) local artists.

Metane says that in this instance, the brand’s investment in the urban music culture is going some way to promote the culture and show it in a new light. The artists are seen to be big deals in their own productions and it is helping to change the perception of the artists, to value them more. “When brands work with artists in that way, we all win.”

One of the aims of the documentary is to express the need to protect the integrity of the urban music culture. “We don’t have a brand manager for urban music culture. We need to work together to ensure the integrity of our culture – and to gain respect. The urban music culture is related to black culture – we don’t have someone looking after us. We need to learn, to do things better, to understand what’s happening on the ground, and ensure that we aren’t victims of the many brands that are culture vultures out there, out only to promote themselves without giving anything back to the culture.”

The message of the documentary is that brands that are trying to leverage the value of the urban music culture or even the broader black culture can get it right. It emphasises how to build relationships with the influencers, and how the relationship between brands and culture can be bridged.

Summing up the vision for ‘Brands Doing Dope Sh*t’, Metane says, “Culture and business are two separate worlds. The conversation between brands, media and managers or artists from the culture has been long overdue since the days of S’dumo with Chicken Licken. How we move forward is by first giving recognition to what works and then addressing what needs to be done better. Our hope for this documentary is that it builds the conversation between brands, artists and media on how we change the perception on the African narration. At the end of the day we all influence thought one way or the other.”

“Slik, this is a beautiful thing man. It fills me with so much pride,” says Proverb. “Thank you so much Castle Lite, you did it!” adds rapper Riky Rick.

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