Alpha Dog leader of the pack intalent

John Harvey

UP-AND-COMING rap artist Alpha Dog pulled out all the stops in front of South African music luminaries Zolani Mahola and Elvis Blue and an audience of several hundred to be crowned this year’s Tshisa Talent search winner in Plettenberg Bay at the weekend.

The 19-year-old, whose real name is Mandilakhe Jaxa, grew up in nearby KwaNokuthula and raps about township life and “attitude”.

With former Idols winner Blue and Freshlyground lead singer Mahola in attendance at the Whitehouse Theatre on Saturday, the youngster brought the house down with his original song about Plettenberg Bay, centred around the lyrics “This land is your land”.

“The event was magic,” Blue said yesterday.

“It was so well organised, and everything was done perfectly. I really liked what Alpha Dog did, singing about Plettenberg Bay. I think he will go far.

“I will definitely be involved with this project again.”

Supported by Plett Tourism, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and Rietvallei Wine Estate, the Tshisa Talent initiative is a platform for Garden Route and national performance artists to market themselves.

For his efforts, Alpha Dog will be appearing throughout next year’s National Arts Festival as part of its Remix arts and development programme.

“I am so pleased to have won. I grew up listening to rappers like Eminem, and always liked to freestyle.

“A lot of my friends used to rap with me, but they gave up.

“I want to go to Grahamstown and show everyone what I can do. This competition is doing great things for local talent.”

He said programmes like Tshisa Talent definitely gave township youth the incentive to pursue their dreams and “stay off the streets and not do drugs”.

Other big winners on the night were the Bitou Christian United Community Choir from New Horizons (best choir), Enrico Sam from Wittedrift (most accomplished dancer) and Kranshoek’s Heinrich van Wyk (vocalist of the year).

Organiser Stuart Palmer, of the Lunchbox Theatre Company, said the event was a huge success.

“The next step is we want to roll out the programme to other towns in the Eden District. We want to use the successful model we have here in Plett as a template, and train people in the satellite towns to develop the youngsters’ skills.

“Ultimately we would like each region to develop and then have a grand finale at the end of the year, where the best from each region will compete against one another.”

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