Rock the collab

Brendan Cooper, head of content on the FNB account, heroically reprised his ’80s rapper moves while writing this report.

Jonathan Beggs of Saatchi & Saatchi BrandsRock mixes music and creativity with New Media.

South Africa’s cultural diversity is a reason to celebrate – because unlikely collaborations spark brilliant creativity, says Jonathan Beggs, chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi BrandsRock.

Speaking at one of New Media’s regular inspiration sessions, this time to visiting FNB clients and our FNB editorial team, he demonstrated – loudly – how collaborations can work, citing the magic sparked by collaboration between musicians from vastly different backgrounds in New York City between 1975 and 1985.

New York in the late ’70s and early ’80s spawned hip-hop, disco, punk rock, new wave, salsa and avant-garde jazz.

At the time, New York was a cultural melting pot of imported and homegrown musical styles that gave rise to a mash-up of different genres, resulting in one of the most important eras in modern music history.

Perhaps the best example of this was the collab between rappers and the leaders of the disco inferno that was sweeping through uptown clubs. This unlikely combo of disco, with its funk, soul and salsa influences, mixed with the rhythmic spoken word and sampled beats coming out of the Bronx, produced a seminal hip hop classic: the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight.

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Disco king John Travolta

Another example Jonathan referenced was the even more way-out blending of beatbox and German electro by DJ Afrika Bambaataa, whose stage name was inspired by the Zulu chief Bhambatha.

Electro minimalists Kraftwerk
Electro minimalists Kraftwerk

Bambaataa was influenced by the minimalist computer-generated sound that Kraftwerk were putting out over the waters in Düsseldorf. His track Planet Rock, one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of all Time, sampled Kraftwerk’s Trans-Euro Express and helped spearhead both the hip-hop and electro funk movements. Amazingly, New York in the late ’70s and early ’80s spawned hip-hop, disco, punk rock, new wave, salsa and avant-garde jazz.

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Punk rock pioneers The Ramones

The message of Jonathan’s talk came across loud and clear –­­­ collaboration between different cultures and technologies can spark magical creative work.

Jonathan made the point that in South Africa, with our range of cultural diversity and a media landscape that has embraced new technologies, we’re in a good position to embrace collaboration and celebrate our differences – and creatives, clients and technologies have the opportunity to get together and make sweet music.

Are these collaborations already happening here in SA? Add your comments below.

Written by Brendan Cooper

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