It’s a new year and festival season has begun, first in line being the annual Cotton Fest hosted in Johannesburg this past weekend on the 4th of February.
Before I continue – seeing that it is black history month, I’d like to clarify that this festival has nothing to do with cotton picking, does not reference slavery or the cotton plantations in the 1800s in any way. In South Africa, “Cotton” or “Kotini” in Zulu, refers to style, while being a “Cotton eater” describes someone who dresses very well, so in other words, “eating cotton” means having style or dressing well.
Now let’s get right to it. Cotton Fest is an annual South African music festival that hosts a slew of attendees from all round the country, coming together to celebrate South African artistry, fashion, and the late Rikhado Makhado, known to many as Riky Rick who sadly passed away just last year following a long battle with depression.
Right before he passed, Riky was looking forward to going back to school, promoting and making music, as well as preparing for Cotton Fest which was to be hosted in March 2022, only to die just a month prior. As they say, “the show goes on” and the late rapper’s team and supporters pulled out all the stops to make sure the festival went on without a hitch.
Keeping the same infectious energy he carried on and off the stage, the Cotton Eaters, as Riky affectionately called them, kept his memory alive and pulled off a groundbreaking festival, complete with a number of bars, a cafeteria, a skate area, and 3 different stages to house all our favorite artists. Cassper Nyovest, A-Reece, DBN Gogo, Black Coffee, and Mashbeatz was among the superstars booked to share their talents with fans at The Station in Newtown.
With three different stages to cater for all the attendees’ music tastes, Cotton Fest brought the heat. The “Cotton Stage” hosted the likes of Anatii, Okmalumkoolkat, and Cape Town emcee, YoungstaCpt; “The Lot Stage” had Mellow & Sleazy, Slade, and Sizwe Alakine (formerly known as local rapper, Reason); and finally “The Bunker Stage” that hosted Thato Saul, Priddy Ugly, as well as Love & Hip Hop SA cast member, Money Badoo.
The show was electrifying and the Cotton Class of 2023 were dressed to the nines. As someone who was always dapper and effortlessly fashionable, Riky Rick never had a bad day when it came to his fits. The kicks were on point, the threads were always designer, the sunglasses were of the best quality, and the combos were always communicating. Check out some fits from the show:
Cotton Fest wasn’t just a music event, it was an experience and it’s no doubt that everyone who was there had the time of their lives. With sponsorship partners like Spotify, YFM, Jagermeister, and Oros, the organizers make it a night to remember. The aim of the show is to celebrate South African music, culture, fashion, as well as highlighting known and unknown talent.
Competitions were held during the build up to the show, as well as on the day where attendees were offered hampers, prizes, and exposure. Among the competitions were the UFC Open Mic where Nico Freso, Moshpit Cindy, as well as Behold Benzo were crowned the winners and offered an opportunity to perform at the show.
Special tributes were made to honor Riky, one that had the crowd jumping was A-Reece’ performance of his song featuring Makhado, titled Pick You Up.
Courtesy of Spotify, attendees were offered a treat with the “In Black & White: Wall of Legends” activation that told the story of South African Hip Hop culture with many of our favorite artists, past and present. On the wall we saw rappers AKA, Blxckie, and the late Jabulani Tsambo, also known as Hip Hop Pantsula or “HHP” who, among others, had his own Spotify sticker.
The festival celebrated how local Hip Hop has influenced the culture in more ways than just music. From business and fashion, to entertainment and the slang – it’s culture, it’s Hip Hop, it’s South African Hip Hop. We can’t wait for the next Cotton Fest and what you’ll be wearing to honor Riky Rick in the best way you know how, through fashion.
Cotton Eaters never die, they multiply.