The positive momentum for South African musicians continues with the announcement that Mzansi raised; Ben Caesar won the Music + Artist of the Year award from Musivv, a leading music platform in Dubai. While this is by no means a first award for the global artist, this one is a great opportunity to showcase his impactful role in the world of NFTs and music.
“Yoh, I was not ready for it! I arrived late to the awards show and wasn’t expecting to win at all. So, when they called my name out—I was like ‘What?!'” enthused Caesar. “It felt validating, and I loved that I could share this moment with family and friends who know my story. It was really special and a kickstart to the year.”
Caesar – who is a performing artist, composer, producer and music director and DJ – has the unique ability to create a sound that perfectly fuses his eclectic cultural background. Born in the Caribbean island of Dominica and raised by a feminist, activist mother, he went on to live in Amsterdam, St Lucia and London, before moving to South Africa where he spent the vast majority of his upbringing. From KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg and finally Cape Town, Caesar was able to draw on a variety of cultural backgrounds evident in his music today.
“Being born in Dominica and living in London as a child, these are my deepest musical roots, but growing up in South Africa has had a massive influence,” commented Caesar. “Top that off with a rich history in Hip Hop and you got me! Being in these different countries, I got to soak in all the sounds and culture and watch the changes in music evolve.”
Already a rising star in South Africa, his music has playlisted on Metro FM, 5FM, Goodhope FM, and Jacaranda. His work as Music Director at Warner Bros. World in Abu Dhabi has also been extensively recognised, including the original song for Gotham City, and the Space Jam New Legacy Live Show. Now, having moved to Dubai only last year, he already has an award under his belt.
The latest award is from Musivv, a platform in a digital magazine that discovers, and develops independent musical artists in Dubai, UAE and the Middle East. And this digital space is undoubtedly where Caesar is gaining ground. The musician has taken on the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in music, something that is set to revolutionise the way musicians actually profit from their own creations. Through his newly established anime and music company, TIGXA (Tee-Gah), Caesar dropped his first official release last year – the first NFT to be played on South African radio!
“I was very fortunate to take part in the evolutions of the South African music industry from when House dominated before Hip Hop artists could have careers, to seeing the Gqom and Amapiano scene before it blew up globally,” commented Caesar. “When South Africa started to respect and edify their local artists, things changed. Instead of an American star headlining, we had local stars. When media covered more South African artists’ stories, that momentum spilt over globally. A viral moment is fleeting, but having a strong foundation will give longevity that takes the industry investing in itself and its talent.”
He said that there is definitely more that can be done, with government providing more support: “I look at what South Korea has done with K-pop, and how the government leverages it as a product that adds to the brand of the country and invests in its development. Many countries don’t invest adequately in music as a cultural export or tourism opportunity. South Africa is centre stage right now, and Mzansi needs to take this seriously.”
Commenting on the differences between musical industries, Caesar said he sees the South African music industry as more established in many ways.
“Dubai could learn a lot in terms of media platforms for artists, as there aren’t many national radio or TV stations that local artists can get playlisted on, and there are no royalty distribution agencies here. That being said, it will change in years to come, with Dubai and the Middle East at a tipping point. They are putting serious work into building the infrastructure so it’s fortuitous that I’m here at such a crucial point.”
To find out more about Ben Caeser and TIGXA, visit https www.ben-caesar.com.