Entertainment | Arts And Books
The faces of many industries are changing, and the music industry is no different but the current lockdown, has encouraged artists to think outside of the box.
Soweto-based rapper, choreographer and award-winning dancer Chisanga Pembanyali, 26 – known by his stage name Bruce Dee – gained popularity in his Protea neighbourhood for being a talented dancer and part of the award-winning dance crew, Supreme I Crew.
Bruce Dee has taken his rhythm to the mic and started recording hip-hop tracks from a home studio. For this, he enlisted the help of his fellow dance crew members, friends and a younger brother – fine artist and self-taught producer Gregory Pembanyali.
Introverted as a young lad, Bruce Dee felt he could only fully express himself through song or dance.
His musical alter ego was borne though his love for martial artist Bruce Lee and Eastern culture – reflected in his album visual which features Manga-like images.
His passion for creative arts helped him overcome his slightly reserved nature and he climbed to popularity on the dance scene as a member of Supreme I Crew. “When I’m practising my craft, I’m in the moment and the hidden parts of me emerge.
“I’m at my happiest when I’m living my truth in the arts. Dancing is like my superpower, I put my all into my craft,” he said.
Bruce Dee re-strategised and renamed the dance crew which he founded to Guardians of Dance Soweto. His fellow crew members are Amaza Cutshwa, 20, Bheki Shabalala, 28, Siyabonga Ndaba, 27, and Thandeka Ntamane, 29. They each play a different role, aside from dancing, providing marketing, public relations, administrative, singing, song writing and choreography skills.
Guardians of Dance Soweto in action. – Picture Supplied
“We always put our pride aside and would accept any chance to perform in front of an audience, especially in our community,” he said.
“Committing to this industry involves finding solutions to challenges, especially when you aren’t receiving an income.”
They have performed at as many venues as possible and entered competitions, including being named Best Dance Crew South Africa in 2015 and 2016 at the South Africa hip-hop awards. They were also winners of the annual music festival Back to the City’s R10 000 dance prize.
The Guardians can also be seen regularly alongside rapper Gigi Lamayne and in the current music video for the song Churchbells by Mi Casa – which Bruce Dee choreographed for other dancers besides his regular crew. A strong believer in brotherhood and helping others get the recognition the Guardians are currently enjoying, he gives free dance classes in his neighbourhood.
“The world is your oyster and I want to give back to the community in different ways, train many juniors, so that we establish a legacy and there is an easier path paved for younger generations, especially in Soweto,” he said.
Although his underground hits are quickly gaining popularity, such as the songs Aura in Check, Speed Dial and the catchy track That’s The Code, moving into rap was a tougher challenge. But going with his gut, Bruce Dee dove into it, going an unsigned independent route, rather than waiting for a music label to sign him.
“I have a large catalogue of music I was itching to release,” he said. “I’m a believer in generating your own opportunities and current online platforms give me so much scope to let the world hear my music.
“I learn better through experience and making my own mistakes. Because I have peers, who are both independent and signed, my preference is towards owning all my material 100%.
“It can get complicated when you have to split the small piece of the pie into tinier pieces. To date being independent has shown me more pros than cons.”
The lockdown has been challenging but he views it as a learning curve, utilising his time wisely to create business and creative strategies for his brands, learn more about the administrative aspects of his profession and innovative methods to approach and present to clients.
“There are no gigs – we survive on gigs – but I finally get to sort out the documentation part of things, dealing with the black and white and expanding the scope of the business.”
He’s also started investing in different mediums for getting his music into the public domain. “I use the internet and social media … the aim is to drive people to want to have it first,” says Bruce Dee.
Soundcloud https://m.soundcloud/ breecedeefromnow Audiomack
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