Is Riky Rick’s “Cotton Fest” Better Than Cassper Nyovest’s “Fill Up”?

Cassper Nyovest made history on Friday 30 October 2015, as the first artist in South Africa to host a concert at the Ticket Pro Dome and have the attendance filled to capacity, this was not only a win for South African hip hop, but more for artists in the south African music industry.

Cassper Nyovest, Fill Up The Dome
Cassper Nyovest standing on a floating stage at the Ticket Pro Dome.

South African artists have always been given the shorter end of the stake from local show promoters, AKA was a famous opposer to opening for International acts citing bad treatment. Ever since then, Cassper Nyovest has moved to different stadiums around the country going from Orlando stadium, to stadiums in his home province in the North West, down to the ultimate FNB stadium. Cassper was also able to use the first show as a means to promote his next album, “Refiloe”, by providing each attendee with a copy of the album effectively selling 20,000 copies in one day.

Sidlukotini

On Tuesday 21 June 2016, Riky Rick released “Sidlukotini” which was produced by Gemini Major and Tweezy, the song title’s direct translation is “we eat cotton”, a reference to Riky Rick’s love for clothes. Through constant promotion of the song and reputation of the name, it stuck, Riky Rick subsequently called his fan base “the cotton eaters” and named his record label, “Cotton Club Records”.

Watch the music video of “Sidlukotini” below;

Riky Rick appeared on an interview with Slikour to declare how he would like to find new artists and give them a platform, soon after we were introduced to a little known Frank Casino. This would energize Frank by basically giving him the South African equivalent to a Drake starter pack, Riky Rick would ultimately give those packs to The Big Hash and Uncle Vinny, Riky would also follow this up with the Cotton Lab podcast.

One Man Show

Cassper Nyovest has always been great at promoting himself, from the moment “Gusheshe” dropped and he could publicly be seen, he had a talking point, the pony tail, the music video in the hood and the AKA beef, all of these were talking points that allowed him to sell the massive numbers that he sold and ultimately succeed in filling up The Dome.

Cassper Nyovest rehearsing for Fill Up The Dome
Cassper Nyovest at the Ticket Pro Dome rehearsing for Fill Up The Dome.

As much as filling up these stadiums has done for the South African music industry in recognizing the numbers homegrown artists could pull, it did not have the desire to fate, where brands would host artists around the country providing stages and opportunities for them to do shows and even stages half as big as Fill Up. Cassper is and always will be the main act of Fill Up, he is the only artist that brands can believe in to pull these kinds of numbers.

Cotton Fest

Cotton Fest on the other hand has brought many brands and allowed stages to be filled by many artists, although the first show had a lower budget and a lower attendance, it set the stage for the idea.

Cotton Fest 2020
Cotton Fest 2020 was able to pull a big crowd most of which are young people.

Cotton Fest offers three stages, each with different fan bases, Riky Rick was able to recognize this which brought in a lot more attendees the second time around. The venue chosen which is the Old Park Station in Newtown, Johannesburg, is a relatively small area which makes it all the more amazing that attendees of over 11,000 people was achieved.

For the two years it run, it really shone a spotlight on the few rising artists that were on the come up, each year brands were introduced to bankable artists. In the first year, the main stage was owned by Riky Rick himself while the rage stage was a Hash stage. In the second year, Costa Titch was the face of the rage stage while A-Reece stole the show on the main stage.

It seemed with Cotton Fest, while Riky Rick was getting most of the shine, other artists were still able to perform for a bigger stage than they were used to while having physical proof of their reach and engagement in the real world. This allows brands which are always objectively watching for taste makers to bank on, to identify the many artists who have a big enough following to endorse.

Cotton Fest 2020 Main Stage
The main stage of Cotton Fest 2020.

Ivyson Tour

I will be a mess if I don’t write about the Ivyson tour, Nasty C has toured South Africa, city to city, taking his show on the road. The Ivyson tour is probably the best example of both ideas (Cotton Fest and Fill Up) working to the fullest extent, Nasty C who is the face of the show, has proven his ability to put on a high end show and draw a crowd. However, he still has artists in the show who are also given just as much spotlight, the last tour had artists like Focalistic, Manu WorldStar and 25K The Plug who were all given shine.

Epilogue

Cassper Nyovest’s “Fill Up” series was a great showcase of the height South African music could reach, having 65,000 people show up and pay money for a homegrown talent is a measure of success that can’t be compared.

Without fail, Cassper Nyovest will undoubtedly go down as an artist who envisioned a different South African music industry and acted on it. Cotton Fest on the other hand has allowed brands to start looking more and more into artists that can be invested in, sponsorships and brand deals allow artists to take bigger steps in growing the hip hop culture in South Africa. We need to find a way to bridge the gap and get more artists to live out their dreams, I would love to see Costa Titch, Blxckie and Frank Casino go on tour together and have PatricKxxLee open up for them. I don’t need to see Shane Eagle on tour alone, why not Shane Eagle and YoungstaCPT together, maximize profits and grow the culture.

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