Category: Uncategorized

Scoring Walls #1: the album

Ewok Scoring Walls emblems banner

Artwork by @frshdsgn_dbn

SCORING WALLS is an album type collection of new Hip Hop.  It’s my freshest work.

I’ve been making this kind of noise professionally for fifteen or so years and this year marks 10 since I released my first full length album: Higher Flyer For Hire.  The fabric of that project has so many threads it’s difficult to unravel it all now.  Some of them are tangled, some of them straight stitching, all of them were weaved together in the work of an amateur artist turned freelance professional, determined to fly his flag high on a pole position.

This is Durban urban music.  By that I mean more than just rhyme.  I mean that it’s a collaborative album made possible by the creative contributions of various artists who came together when I put the call out.  That’s a Durban thing, combining across crafts to create something unique.  It’s a Hip Hop thing, mixing separate sounds and sensibilities into logical loops and patterns that find form as fresh flow.

To some, both outsiders and insiders, Durban is a waste of space.  To others, to those who know, it’s like the deep web: an infinite realm of possibility and a sustainable resource of positive creativity, exporting some of eMzansi’s finest up-and-coming talent.  That potential is there all the time, available for all of us artists to feed off.  You can miss it though if you are too distracted by comparison and not focused enough on what is in front of you.

The title of the album has multiple meanings, as any good name should.

Scoring is like winning, like earning, like “I just scored some new kicks” (shot DC) or “I scored a kiff chow” (trans: I ate an excellent meal) or “I scored a section” (I acquired a portion). Y’check? When you’ve got no walls to paint every one you do get is a win, so we used to spend a lot of time back in the day trying to score walls.

Scoring is also making a mark, a permanent mark, leaving a mark. You actually have to make an impression to score something, you have to leave a lasting impression. A permanent mark. Like writing on a wall, once you’ve gone and got people’s attention you had better give them something worth paying attention to.  Then move on to the next one.

So Scoring Walls is an album about making a permanent mark.

It drops on the 19th of December 2017, ten years and two months after I laid down these lyrics “I know where I’m gonna be in twenty years time / still on the mic kicking old man rhymes”.  That was ten years ago…ten more to go…


Ewok Scoring walls banner clip
Artwork by @frshdsgn_dbn

Le Pont (The Bridge)


Outpourings of all sorts of emotions y’know?  Till you catch yourself feeling too much and scold yourself silently, softly, and proceed to “get real”.  Whatever.  That’s why I listen to bagpipes a lot, coz I like my sentimentality and I like it with some steel in it y’know?  That’s twice I’ve asked if “y’know”.  It’s cool.  You don’t have to know, just trust me: bagpipes, every time.

You feeling me yet?



It feels good to ramble on.  I haven’t written here for a while and I’ve wanted to.  I wanted to be consistent, to document all of the crazy cool world I’ve been cruising since last I blogged.  I wanted to keep up with all that I’ve been up to but then I wouldn’t have had the time to get up to much (catch me a 22 will you?).

Recently people have been asking me “Dude, where have you been?”.  Like at gigs, or coffee shops.  Of course the only ones who don’t ask are those that have been where I have been, or those who are at where I’m at.  I’m so tempted to answer like “I’ve been EVerywhere! Everywhere except where you were, although possibly in the same place but we missed each other coz we were so present…but I doubt it.”.  That would be too obnoxious though, even for me, so instead I’m like “Y’know, I’ve been around.”.

GET TO THE PONT (bridge it)

The thing is, obnoxious or not, the first answer is the truth.  The other thing is that if I try and recollect it all (everywhere I’ve been at) I will just paralyze myself to the point of poor penmanship.  So like the Black Eyed Peas only good album I’m going to bridge the gap and in the wisdom of my wife’s words I’m going to “Work backwards.”.  I will get to where I’ve been, by starting with where I’m at:

I’m at Festival d’Avignon in (wait for it) Avignon, South Eastern France.  Parts of this pretty little city go back beyond the early Bronze Age (that’s 3500 BC, so yeah, like 5000 years in terms of original inhabitants settling in).  The “Palace of the Popes” and the “Avignon Bridge” give it UNESCO World Heritage Status.  Every year around this time a month long festival of the arts kicks off and this ancient space becomes multiple modern stages for an international array of artists.  I’m working with a fresh group of French students and young performance professionals, artists all.  We have travelled from Toulouse to the festival together.  25 in total, with a beat boxer, a photographer, two graphic designers, a Graffiti writer, a rapper slash vocalist, and a crew of dancers.  In fact everyone dances, most of them professionally, some of them from pure spirit and feeling.

Our performance is called “All Elements”.  It’s a workshopped 30 minute production mixing voice and body, movement and music.  It’s young, unpretentious and full of life.  It tries to strip away ego and create connectedness, sometimes gently and sometimes with force, and it results in a trust that has allowed individuals to step out of themselves and build their own bridges.

I’m here as a Hip Hop Theatre head to play my part in conducting “the creation” as it has come to be called.  Normally a piece like this has only one (Only one conductor. Pay attention.).  This time though I am a guest at the grace of French choreographer Heddy “Le Chef” Maalem (  He has honoured me with an opportunity to work alongside him and I am learning much as I operate as his shadow, not the least of which is some passable French (if not passable, at least “pas mal”).

EN BREF: SENTAMENTALISM (without the bagpipes)

The word in French for feeling is “sent”, from sentir: to feel.  Feel is “sensation”.  In English we speak of “sentient beings” or being sentient, meaning “having the power of perception by the senses; conscious”.

I’m all about consciousness, and “All Elements” in Avignon has me wide awake.  I’m feeling it, I’m feeling a lot of things.  Today I felt like writing.

Outpourings y’know?

“Through restless streets I walked alone…”

Fresh Rap Lyrics: Hused Whut (Who said what?)

[Listen to the track]

Be the strange man maintain a main plan / to put the can in the hands of the kids and / let them loose on Babylon’s buildings / I fill them with fire / Learn to burn up the Evil Empire / from the spire to the steeple / Conspire with common people / how the leaders and the people are no longer equal / From Osama to Obama / same dirt different hands / The CIA playing the same game as the Taliban / to keep the people stepping in line / Don’t let them see that Guantanamo Bay’s the frontline / not Afghanistan / Reverse the flow / see a whole new attitude / when they’re ducking drones on Pennsylvania Avenue / The Lords of War / them in control of the store / wanna hold the core’s what the war’s for / HUA! / People believe we’ve got a right / to hit Haliburton with a pre-emptive strike / Who are / the ones to kick back the canister? / Slingshot the rock! Slingshot the rock! / Understand me man / I’ve got an active hand / I want to throw up “peace” / while they throw up “gang” / but I stand my ground against a Mafia crowd / that wanna scam a common man like the Turin Shroud / with belief that’s baseless like nothing but the highs / Heaven sounding better than those shitty lives / So they guard the Gods and never answer when / I ask “Your God’s so great? Why’s he need you guarding him?”

Flipping the script…

Flip the script / Hused Whut? / See the situation shift / Hused Whut? / Gonna speak till they come slice my tongue from me son / Hused Whut?

Nobel Peace Prize? Ja well No fine / We gave it to De Klerk to clean Apartheids grime / with a whitewash / We might watch history’s course / and ask F W who controlled the Third Force / in Thokoza / 92 to 94 / Destabilize with your township war / See the white man never have to give back lands when Mandela got the magic that’ll wash those hands / Don’t say that! Don’t play that! The man’s a Saint! / Yeah in Hollywood maybe / but back home he ain’t / He’s just a a man / despite what they’re trying to sell you / Voetsek! He’d be the first to tell you / Pull him out dust him off / It’s election year / Defend his legacy and put your X right he / Madiba / His party / Shaya izandla / His body in Qunu / His spirit in Nkandla? Hhayi hamba! / If he’s alive despite his grace / he’d knock the head off the shower and then he’d spit in the face / to leave it dirty like spy tapes and arms deals / See the pictures never pretty when the truth’s revealed

Flip the script / Hused Whut? / See the situation shift / Hused Whut? / Gonna speak till they come slice my tongue from me son / Hused Whut?

What’s the story? What’s the big idea? / Got a shit load of unanswered questions here / but they don’t want hear that / don’t want to see that / All these Beliebers and twerk jerking brats need to catch fat slaps / Line them up / They all need to learn the real meaning of a wrecking ball / Shut down the Jol / Send them home to mummy / They won’t need those teeth while they’re sucking a dummy / If I’m sounding crummy it’s because I’m pissed! / They like licking their lips from all the ass they’ve kissed / They want to come act wise / They never question why it’s some plastic prize in these advertised lives / Now the pigs in control like its 1984 / George Orwell woulda been thrown from the fourth floor / Ring the alarm in the Animal Farm / is why they locked down Snowden and Assange / Telling us to “Calm down kids, who said? What does he know?” / kicking up a storm in your cuppacino…

Flip the script / Hused Whut? / See the situation shift / Hused Whut? / Gonna speak till they come slice my tongue from me son / Hused Whut?

I to I: no pats on the back from blacks.

I shouldn’t expect any kind of thanks (props) for rationalizing the obvious: I am a white-skinned man that is part of a global society that privileges me. I am a product of a history. I cannot escape my skin. Any discomfort I feel with any of this cannot be blamed on anyone else.

I cannot be blamed for being privileged, only for acting privileged, in a manner that: dehumanizes others; disadvantages others; degrades others; exploits others; disempowers others; or harms others. While this might seem obvious, it’s in the unpacking of just how embedded whiteness is in the global structures that maintain inequality, poverty and social injustice, that the pill takes on a truly bitter taste.

As Samantha Vice has written about white people, “We have an enduring need to think well of ourselves, so it is deeply uncomfortable to be told we should feel ashamed of ourselves.”

I am trapped in my skin, but my trap comes with comforts not afforded to others in a similar situation. If ever my skin disadvantages me, I have avenues of recourse, escape or redress that are not afforded to others. This nullifies any real disadvantage I consider myself to be in.

My recent work “I to I” with Kat Francois, didn’t teach me anything new about race. What it did teach me was to approach my understanding from a different angle. I learned to stay silent for just long enough to catch myself thinking. I learned to try to use that moment to examine the position I was in, in relation to the move that I was about to make. So I didn’t learn anything new about race, I just began to examine it from a position that tried to remove what I thought I already understood.

For the first time, I managed to consciously look in, to not hide away from the many truths about my skin.

I discovered how I felt deprived of any real pride in my ancestry.

I was honest about loving Hip Hop for giving me some sense of legitimacy, for letting me feel like I wasn’t the same as “other white people”.

I went from being angry at Kat for lack of a more nuanced understanding of South African society, to defending her against white people who thought that I’d “Let her off too lightly”, back to being angry again, angry with myself for trying to defend her unnecessarily. That was her point, “Don’t speak for me, you’re just doing what you always do.”.

Not a day goes by now where I don’t argue with her in my head. That was the gift of her performance. I have a constant character in my brain that I can butt heads with without either of us bruising too badly. At some level, I feel that I also provided a kind of foil for her, a white skin that she could spar with, who wasn’t going to retreat to any of the safe spaces with the jump-in jump-out nature of most critical white race engagement. She still has a lot to learn about the differences between whiteness in South Africa and in the UK, but she is sharp enough to know that they exist. I’m no expert on them either.

I got very depressed over the two-week period of producing this work, but I’m glad that we got to be truth-seekers and truth-speakers together.

I’m still pretty angry, but I’m learning to listen hard, to my own thoughts, before acting on them. It’s making it increasingly harder to pick up a pen again, but for the first time in a long time, I’m in no rush.

I to I: how the hell to tackle yourself.

In October of last year I asked Kat Francois if she would be keen to come out to Durban (South Africa), to create a theatre piece with me, to “butt poetic-heads together” live on stage.

Our topic would be race-relations between a Black European African Woman and a White African European Man. Neither of us knew what we were in for. Props (respect) must go to Kat and her fella Rob (photographer poet) for agreeing to work on this, and to my partner in all things life, director Karen Melissa Logan. The four of us dove head-long into the process of producing this work. We are all still surfacing. Again, none of us knew what was coming.

I have been unpacking my “whiteness” for a little over a year now. Writing and co-creating two shows, “YOBO” and “I to I“, both dealing with notions of what it might be to be white in this world, has left me properly spinning. At various points this year I have stopped trusting my work to the point of mini-breakdown. Thankfully I have not been alone. Truly. Karen and I have been fully on this quest together and much must be said for having a partner with enough energy to stash her own shit so she can shoulder some of mine.

The beauty of “I to I” has been to allow me to put it all on stage in the company of another artist who has both provoked me to a point, but also stood with me through what has undoubtably been the most real catharsis I have experienced in my 10 plus years as a professional performer.

I have only just begun to break it all down.

I expect to be doing so for the next long while.

The only thing that I can say for one hundred percent certain that this show has taught me…is to moisturize.

Here is a poetic piece that never made it onto the stage. Most of this show was about the process anyway, so in a way it had its day.


I’m not looking for that pat on the back from a black and I’m sure as hell not gonna end up another whining white guy / I’m gonna get by by getting the balance just right / gonna coast like a ghost / grey / unseen / slipping in between the cracks in the scene / the gaps in the scenery of this fractured society / Or so I thought I would / but it can’t happen / not with a mouth like mine built for rapping / not when I come equipped with a tongue and an intellect set to rip a sizable hole in anything you might respect / when I’m ready whenever you are with a pen for whoever you are to spit hard talking blood letting waiting to get beyond sweat / I will spit fuel to fire fools in my trajectory so expect of me that I will kill it with an ability from within the cranial cavity / dismantle dogs who would battle me leave ’em lacking an’ looking for missing parts of their anatomy like been decapitated by the words that I’ve stated.

Back then I thought that this gimmick gave me some legitimacy.
Like now I can walk freely through situations like “If you don’t know, act like you know.”
But I’m an actor, professional, so I can spot that dishonesty.
And I’m angry.
Angry at being told to turn that tongue on me.
You’re telling me I need to turn that tongue on me?
Why? Why me?
Why do I have to stand on the white side of history? Why can’t I move to the right side of history?
All I wanted was to tackle some serious subject matter.
I didn’t want to be the subject matter to tackle.
Set myself up as a bag at tackle practice AND I’m the player AND I’m the coach screaming at me like “attack this”!

How the hell am I supposed to tackle myself?

Lemme tell you where I’d rather be.
I’d rather be comfortable. Blissful existence to the point of ignorance.
I’d rather be where I can jump in and out as I please.
I’d rather be where if it doesn’t suit me I can choose to leave.
That’s where it’s at.
But it’s not where I’m at.
Lemme tell you where I’m at.
I’m at a point where I’m ready to fuck myself UP, knock myself the fuck out!
So sick of being conscious: Angry man being told he’s got nothing to be angry about.
Conscious, of how I’ve caught myself posing like all these punches I’ve been throwing have a point.
Instead of blunt punches. Blunt, like a glove. Soft.
So I’m angry, and it’s time that I’m taking the gloves off,
Like okay history, have it your way:

SWING “Why do white people get to be ignorant but I don’t?”
SWING “Why do black people get to feel pride but I won’t?”
SWING I never thought I had all the answers
SWING I never thought I’d learned all the lessons
SWING but I was so certain that I was asking the right questions
SWING and maybe I was
SWING but I was never asking them of myself
So now I’m shadow boxing acting like its good for my health but I’m swinging at air because there’s nothing. SWING Fucking. SWING There.

Except me. Try as I might I can’t beat myself. I can’t beat myself enough to discolor this skin I’m in. It’s in me. It is me.
The only black parts of me, are my shadow, and my history.
All I can do is swing.
All I can be is angry.

Photo by SLOETRY

The YOBO Report Part 1: White back at you

It’s 5am and I’ve been up since 3 because I can’t stop thinking about being white.

I’m not trying to BE white.  I am white.  I’m trying to figure out what that means, or what it means to me anyway.

I have been trying to figure it out for the last year, ever since my wife and I pitched our idea for a new show to the Grahamstown National Arts Festival for inclusion in their 2015 Solo Theatre program.

I have never obsessed over a piece of work to the level that I took it to with this show.  I know this because I wasn’t alone.  My wife, the greatest wonder of my life, also happens to be my director and the co-creator of “YOBO: You’re Only Born Once”.  This made it very hard to leave our work at the office so to speak.  Actually, that never happened.  Not even once.  In the final two months of pre-production we agonized over every aspect, more so than with any of the other work we have produced together, because we knew that this one was going to take us to some as yet undiscovered places in our personal journeys as theatre-makers.

Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson performs in YOBO: You’re only born once in the Thomas Pringle hall in Grahamstown on 8 July 2015; at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Robinson’s spoken word and poetic lines are used to tell the story of a solitary white South African man, discovering his position in a post-apartheid SA and realises the contemporary issues we face that link to our history. (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson performs in YOBO: You’re only born once in the Thomas Pringle hall in Grahamstown on 8 July 2015; at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Robinson’s spoken word and poetic lines are used to tell the story of a solitary white South African man, discovering his position in a post-apartheid SA and realises the contemporary issues we face that link to our history. (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

Hold on a minute.  What the fuck?  I sound like I’m trying to publish an article in a journal here.  If you want to know, we broke our intentions down like this, and critics have written about the show here, here and here. 

I’m over that though.  I’m blogging so that I can get some shit off my chest. 

Cut the kak: YOBO has forever twisted my guts into knots that are both a painful strain and a pleasure to massage away.  This show freaked me out, and I wrote the sucker.  I wanted the artistic glory of creating something that would provoke and challenge, and then to a degree it did, and I freaked out.  I realized that I wasn’t as ready to handle genuine real responsive and responsible critique as I had made myself out to be.  The show had people on their feet, both in ovation at the end AND in exiting during the performance.  I didn’t know how to handle it.  I’m still figuring it out.  That’s why I’m writing this.

I set out to script pieces that honored the work of authors and writers I had discovered in my digging the depths of WHITENESS.  Digging the depths is the wrong way to describe it actually.  Whiteness isn’t deep.  It’s on the surface.  It isn’t buried, it’s exposed, it’s evident, it’s even obvious.  So obvious that it is beyond observable and has become invisible, invisible in the way that it has manufactured itself as “normal” (making everything other than white, well, “other”).  As it turns out, this invisibility trick isn’t that clever really, because it only seems to work properly on white people.

What is clever about it is the way that it manages to hide (pause for dramatic effect) by being seen.

I met a street artist once who told me that he used to bomb bridges during peak traffic times (Bomb with paint, not bombs.  It’s a graffiti thing).  The more obvious the act the less people seemed to construe it as anything other than somehow sanctioned, or at least much harder to question.

That’s whiteness.  It’s so in your face that it is your face, so you can’t see it.  Unless you look in a mirror, but even then, it’s white like light so it reflects back into your eyes and you have to look away or it hurts.  Either that or you freeze.  Paralysis.  Oh Deer me.  Like a bright light right in your eyes, so all consuming that you can’t look away.  You can’t see anything else.  So you start to forget that anything else exists.  So you’re shocked and unsettled by the notion that anything else exists that isn’t this light.  The light is the primary focus and everything else is the periphery, or if you will, everything else is the margin.

Apparently, according to the critics, some people watched the show and had to look away, or in the case of the theatre, walk out.  I know, I heard them.  I couldn’t see them though.  The light was in my eyes.  That’s what happens when you are on stage, the centre of attention, always in focus.  You don’t see anyone else.  They’re in the blackness, you’re in the light.  You’re aware that they are there, but you can ignore them easily.

I used to do this thing in performance where in order to shake my nerves I would blur my own vision so that I didn’t focus on the audience.  I could look at them without actually seeing them.  It’s a neat trick.  It works both on and off the stage, you just keep your eyes white open.

So, the show.  It’s about how whiteness is an addiction, a comfortable habit that won’t be broken until the addict starts to suffer, to suffer enough that they are desperate to do something about it, anything to break it’s hold.  Some addicts never get to break free, they keep reaching out but all they ever get to grab onto is more net, another hook, barb-wire that cuts them back into their prison of unsustainable highs.  Whiteness is about getting high and trying to stay high.  Strangely enough, this is where whiteness stops being about race and starts to become more about a shared savage survival instinct in all animals, definitely in humans (you know the story about the Mom monkey that stands on the baby monkey to escape the heat?).  We all want to be at the top, and no one wants to be knocked down.

White people don’t see it, but we suffer from a superiority complex bred into us from centuries of imperial cultural conquest of those our ancestors deemed “other”.  We understand this, but we don’t really see it or know it, like we don’t really own it.  It’s like the difference between SAYING sorry and FEELING sorry.  I had to capitalize those words because I have decided that I can’t speak softly about this issue anymore.  White people, especially white artists, that have chosen to have this conversation need to recognize that choice as part of our privilege and I don’t think we can placate ourselves or others anymore by waiting to feel comfortable before diving into this white hole of self-reflection.

So this is me, diving in, the first part in a series of however many it takes as I keep coming white at you.

Peace be the journey, education be the destination, knowledge be the train, the track and every station.

Dealing with some New Brand Of Dad

"Art director" Phyf and main Dad Audiophile 021 talking Ninja Turtles and nappies.

“Art director” Phyf and main Dad Audiophile 021 talking Ninja Turtles and nappies.


“Aight listen! Ye inna position te make a difference if you stop look an listen an make it ye main mission…”

The New Brand Of Dad project is all about how having kids makes us want to be better.  Better artists, better humans, just better overall.  Better at life really, while still working on its personal definition.  The New Brand Of Dad project is about how our little kids have pushed us to make sense of things, letting us strip away all the petty shit and focus on what is really important in our lives.  Having a kid seems to bring that into a fairly sharp perspective, and quickly.  No lie, having a kid is like adapt or die.

Look, before I start getting too motivational speaker on the reader, just to let you know that NBOD isn’t anything new as such, in that it is an album of music recordings, rap and beats, Hip Hop at our finest.

What is new is the perspective that has guided our approach.  We are producing the album from the perspective of being new to the parenting game, while being longtime in the music making and performance game.  This project is about prioritizing quality in the way that we work.  This is about legacy, and longevity, and making a mark that we will always be be proud of.  The ideas contained in this project are timeless, but the production is setting a higher standard that we aim to promote, develop and progress beyond.

It makes sense then that we would want to set the highest standard possible, so that any progress made would be taking us to a new level, just like the commitment to being a good parent.  You have to be able to adapt if you are going to raise your kid right, because that little life is in constant development.  The kid you knew yesterday is the one that you learned about today, and will become a new kid tomorrow.

To raise kids you have to be ready to raise yourself.

The dads involved in this project know all about not dropping the ball, about not compromising your craft, about taking yourself seriously enough to risk and to roll with the possible punches.  It seems like that’s what being a dad is all about.  You don’t always see things coming so you can’t always be prepared.  All you can do is commit yourself to the process, and when you do trip up or stall for whatever reason, quality of character is what pulls you through.  Hip Hop is the same.  It’s all about the recovery.  When breakers slip or MCs tongue stumble, the way they turn that into part of the routine or the rhyme is how you can identify real skill.  Kids are like that, they don’t have all the control so you have to be there with them, to help them recover so that they can discover.  That means you have to be on point, more then you ever thought possible.  You have to find plenty extra energy.  You have to take more time or at least maximize the time you have in making sure you make the best move possible in the moment.

Look, again, this is all pretty obvious stuff if you are even a slightly positive person that drinks coffee and gets busy on a serious level of attack when it comes to life.  It’s just having a kid makes it seem less like a mission and more like a purpose.  This album is about having a clear purpose.  Like we want our kids to have a quality life, we want the listener to have a quality experience.  Our kids are teaching us about perspective, and we want to put these lessons into practice.

NEW BRAND OF DAD is due for a JULY 2014 release.  Like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, stay tuned and keep practicing that perspective…