Jo Baka: Rasta on The Rise
Lyndon Cloete was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. He is one of the Breakdance Pioneers who is putting his energy into making Conscious Reggae Music. His music focuses on the social ills the youth are faced with. He is a community activist and together with his crew run an organisation called “Hood Hop Africa” where they use dance and music to target the idle youths who would otherwise be lured to join gangs. Their successful event: Rocking the Hood, is staged at different areas in the Cape Flats (notorious for gang related violence), they recruit the youth and stage Breakdancing competitions.
We caught up with Jo Baka, whose recent collabo with Hip Hop artist Jerome Lamour for the single Street Wise, affirms his dedication to the street youth and demonstrates the special relationship between Reggae and Hip Hip culture, especially in the Western Cape. He is currently working on his Debut EP titled: Rebel Musician
Who is Jo Baka?
Jo Baka Is An Authentic Cape Town Reggae Singer. I’m From the Tribe of Joseph (Jo) And Baka Was A Highly Skilled Footballer, So I Decided To Go With Baka As I Love Football Too.
How did your journey as a musician begin?
Well Coming From A Hip Hop Background Since An Early Age, Music Has Always Been There; I Also Learnt That My Aunt From My Dad’s Side Was Also A Singer Who Died Of Malaria She Got While Touring In Central Africa In The 70s. So It runs in the Family From Way Back. Then Being Around Rappers All The Time Till I Met Red Lion. He Inspired Me.
What does Reggae mean to you in relation to Rastafari?
I Embraced Rastafari in the Late 90s But Before That I Heard Bob Marley On The Radio And Asked My Dad Who That Was. He Answered: “Oh Thats Bob Marley My Boy,” I Then Asked Him Where He Lives And My Dad Told He Passed On. So When I Came Of Age I Always Wanted To Kinda Continue That Work Of Bob.
Reggae Was A Tool/Sound Created By An Oppressed People Taken Away From Their Homeland And Were Made To Work On The Slave Plantations. It’s The Message To The People Who Are Still Under The Control Of Dutsch & English Law To Free Themselves From The Machine World But Most Importantly It’s Purpose Is To Tell InI Of Rastafari And The Teachings Of The King.
How would you describe your native City Cape Town to one who does not know it?
Yes I’m Western Cape born And Raised. I Would Show Them The Beauty Of The Land And The Vibrance Of Our People. Our Diverse Culture and Heritage. Then I’d Take Them To The Most High End Part Of Western Cape And Also The Most Poorest Shanty Town. And Make Them Decide For Themselves
So far, how many singles have you released? EP? Album?
To Date I Released A Few Singles Of Which Some Will Be On My Upcoming EP Called “Rebel Musician” Dropping This Year.
What type of music would you describe yourself doing and for who?
My Sound is Very Much Roots Which I Blend with Hip Hop At Times. And I Target The Streets. Yutes Are Always on the Streets and I Wish My Sound to Inspire them and To Also Teach His/Her Potential
What do you feel distinguishes your work from that of other musicians?
Being a Well Traveled Artist and Being At All Major Reggae Festival in Europe, Meeting My Heros, Speaking To Them etc, What Makes Me Different Is My Experience In Performing, And My Ability To Make My Audience Listen Carefully
How do you strike a balance between expressing yourself and making music that would appeal to your audience
Growing Up In South Africa And Hearing Of My Parents Who Never Had Certain Privileges, I Tend To Use The Privileges I Do Have And Try And Express Myself Honestly But Also Responsibly
If you were not into music, what would you be doing?
Well Being One Of Cape Town’s Bboys Pioneers, I’m Still Very Much Active In That Avenue, I Teach On A Daily Basis So That Answers Your Question.
How do you carve your market and stay unique and afloat?
By Being Truthful And Factual In The Music, People Wanna Hear More Realness, People Also Need A Voice For Them Who’s Voices Falls Pon Deaf Ears. So Reggae Music Is Relevant.
What is your take on the Reggae Scene here in Mzansi in general and in the Western Cape in particular and what do you feel are the main problems that we are facing?
Reggae Scene In Mzansi Is Growing In Leaps And Bounds,More And More People are Falling In love With The Reggae Beat And Basslines, The Lyrics And Melodies So That’s Great. Overall It’s A Music That Is Looked Down Upon Probably For Its Political Nature And Mainstream Radio Station Also Don’t Help In Educating The Massive Of The Relevance Especially As The World Is Now.
We Can Actually Host Our Reggae Festivals Much Better And Much Organised, There A Few Festivals I Attended Where There Are No Backstage Or Artist Has To Get Their Own Refreshments Etc. 2019 The World Is Looking At Rasta To Take The Lead And We Not Serious. So Jaman More Seriousness.
You are doing a lot of social work with the youth in your area, how did that come about? Do you feel it takes away time to focus on your artistry as a musician?
I Run A NPC Along With Some Brothers And a Sister Called “Hood Hop Africa” Where We Deal In Steering The Ghetto Youth Into The Right Direction Using Dance And Music. We Do Wat We Call “Rocking The Hood” Where Travel From Ghetto To Ghetto On The Cape Flats To Spread Social Awareness By Once Again Using Dance And Music. My Music Deals With What I See And Deal With On A Daily Basis So No It Doesn’t Take Away But Actually Adds.
What is your relationship with Hip Hop and B-Boy?
I’m A Bboy For Almost 30 Years, Having Won Or Being Runner Up In Major Competitions Over Seas. Starting With A Group Called Azanian Bboyd, We Beat Every Crew In SA In The 90s. That Time I Went By The Name “Baby L”. Hip Hop Is A part Of My Life.
Tell us about your collaboration and video with Hip Hop artist Jerome Lamour, how did that come about?
Me And Jerome Go Way Back, He Too Was Following The Rasta Faith At The Time And We Met Through Mutual Friends. Being A Reggae Musician I Found It Cool That Jerome And Myself Were Both Inspired My Red Lion. So Why Not Bring That Together
You recently staged a successful community event Block Jamos, how did it go? how did it start?
BlockJam Yes, It’s An Initiative Brought By Myself And Former Black Noise Member, DJ Angelo. It Came About Where We Wanted To Give Back To Our Community. So We Host It On The Same Spot We Used To Practise Out On The Streets To Be A Positive Option For Kids And This One Was Once Again A Huge Success.
How do you manage to keep afloat and not bow down to pressure?
Up The Hustle. It’s Important To Remember Why You Doing It And That Your Works Don’t Question Your Principals.
Tell us about the mini documentary you shot? A Day in the Life of JO baka, I think it was called. when is it available for viewing?
Day In The Life Of Jo Baka Was Exactly That. An In-depth Look into How A Rastaman Survives From Day To Day And Wat Keeps The Fire Burning. It Was Done By VIA On A Program Called. “My Vremde Vriende” And Can Be Checked Out On The Website.
It seems to have been an interesting journey for you, What would you consider as your highlights and downs so far?
A Highlight Is Definitely Singing For The Ghetto People Cause Most Of The Music Was Written For Them,A Downside Would Be That Not A lot Of Cape Town Promoters Has Even Considered Me To Perform At Their Events But We Push On Through.
Which other musicians do you draw some of your inspiration from?
Damian Marley Is Definitely One Of The Icons I Draw Inspiration From, Also People Like Cutty Ranks, Half Pint, Bob Marley, Protoje, Kabaka Prymaid, Dezaire And Jah9. I’d Would Like To Collab With Skip Marley As He Deals With Such Relevant Issues Same Like Me.
What more can we expect from you in 2019/20 season
2019/20 Can Expect Great Authentic Reggae From Jo Baka. This Year Releasing My Debut EP “Rebel Musician”..And Soon Another Hot Single Dropping Called “Lock Down” With Jerome L’amour As well As Another Music Video. So Year It’s A Exciting Time For Jo Baka