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Highlighting women's contribution to hip hop: the Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory

[FEATURED] The role of women in hip hop has vastly changed over the years and the Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory event explores that journey. We chat to Karabo Poppy Moletsane to find out more about what she will be doing there

This Women’s Month, Castle Lite honours the trailblazers, women who have been unapologetically honest. The Hip Hop Herstory is a dynamic day exploring the role of women in hip hop.

Taking place on 8 September, women’s contribution to the genre will be celebrated through music, a fashion show, dance, and more.

We chatted to Karabo Poppy Moletsane, illustrator, graphic designer and street artist, to find out more about what she’ll be doing there.

ELLE: Why do you think an event such as the Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory is important in empowering women?

Karabo Poppy Moletsane (KPM): I believe an event like this is important in empowering women because it is highlighting female excellence in an industry that has existed for decades but has never really found a way to honour exceptional women in hip hop in an adequate fashion.

The Castle Lite’s Hip Hop Herstory really stands out for achieving this because of the unconventional way it is celebrating female excellence through a vast array of disciplines and platforms.

ELLE: Share your highlights and challenges, specifically to being a woman in your industry?

KPM: Some of the highlights in my career include:

  • Getting to illustrate a Google Doodle for International Women’s Day this year
  • Winning a Gold Craft Loerie
  • Having Bill Gates tweet about my illustrations
  • Having my illustrations exist on one of the largest structures in South Africa, the Soweto Towers

Some of the challenges I experienced especially at the beginning of my career [was] to find someone in the industry who shared a similar narrative and career path as myself. I could not find a black female illustrator/graphic designer/street artist who I could potentially learn from.

So I set out to try and be the representation I longed to see in a male-dominated industry. Forging your own path means a large amount of lessons are learnt first-hand, many hours of hard work, immense pressure to be a good representation of something new as well as being one of the only females on certain projects.

ELLE: In your opinion, how has the fashion industry evolved over the past few years?

KPM: The fashion industry is extremely broad and has evolved in so many ways, it might be easier if I focus on one of my favourite evolutions in fashion recently – how the experimental, the conceptual and almost high fashion pieces are infiltrating the zeitgeist.

We’re seeing exciting movements, particularly in streetwear recently where brands like Balenciaga, Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton that were not associated with the underground nature of traditional streetwear are being paired with Nike, Adidas, Fila, Off White, Fear of God, Supreme. And we are seeing a beautiful hybrid where [high end] and the underground are working together and exist in everyday wear.

ELLE: What will you do at the upcoming Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory?

I don’t really want to spoil the surprise but it will consist of my art and the message [will] exist on very unconventional canvases.

ELLE: Anything else to add?

I am inspired by the visual aesthetic of Africa, both contemporary and traditional. Our aesthetic has a long, rich heritage rooted in constant innovation and hybridity. I believe that every African carries this with them daily and I believe that it’s in the everyday seemingly mundane events where this aesthetic is at its most beautiful to me. So I set out to preserve and celebrate this in my work.

The Castle Lite’s Hip Hop Herstory takes place on 8 September at the Gallagher Convention Centre.

Get your tickets here.

More information: castlelite.howler.co.za

Castle Lite is not for sale to persons under the age of 18.

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