By: Tendani Mulaudzi

When I heard that Rolling Stone was launching a South African version, a few things immediately sprang to mind: So You Think You Can Dance South Africa, Survivor South Africa and Who Wants to be a Millionaire South Africa. These South African copies of international shows are of amateur quality compared to their originals. If I had to choose between a copy of the British Elle and South African Elle, I would grab the British version without hesitation (regardless of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get hold of any of the clothes, much less afford them). “Obviously Rolling Stone SA is going to be a failure,” said the silly, naïve me. “I mean, there are like hardly any famous South African musicians. They’ll probably have to recycle cover stars like twice a year.”

Interacting with Miles Keylock in a press conference made me feel ashamed of the words that I had said about the magazine. Not only is Rolling Stone SA an enriching magazine that’s definitely worth the read, I think that the American Rolling Stone could learn a few things from our version.

I must admit, I was not the biggest fan of the international Rolling Stone to begin with. But in order to compare the two magazines to each other, I had to do some research. When I googled “Rolling Stone covers”, I found several pages of different covers. Sadly, I could recognize every face. The artists on the covers had all made it to the ‘big time’. They were as commercial as a musician can get, regardless of their genre. Making the cover of Rolling Stone is HUGE for artists; it could be considered the peak of their career. That’s all good and well, but what about those not-so-well-known artists that have a story that’s worth telling?

This is what sets Rolling Stone SA apart and what makes Miles Keylock such a great editor. Hugh Masekela, Zahara, Miriam Makeba, Paul McCartney, Spoek Mathambo and Die Antwoord have rightfully been on the cover artists of Rolling Stone SA. Not all of them are of commercial status and have made the big time. An artist doesn’t need to be super famous to be on the cover, just extraordinary: musically and personally.

Don’t agree? Well, think about it. Hugh Masekela is simply a living legend, or as Keylock explained, “This is the biggest rockstar we have.” Zahara, as Keylock puts it, has music with a message. “Her songs are rooted in decades full of history and she sings songs of hope,” he said. Spoek Mathambo; now that’s a name many average people haven’t heard of. And average they will remain, until they hear what this artist can do. I first came to hear about Spoek Mathambo collaborating on a song with one of my latest obsessions, PH Fat. Spoek got my attention immediately. Miles Keylock’s attention was also stolen by this up-and-coming artist, “Spoek has given his art so much time in terms of thinking… He has found his voice and is going global.”

All these artists have interesting stories to tell but the writer is the one who has to fully articulate the musician’s story. As readers, reading the same old thing with a change of names can a get a little boring. As an editor, Keylock doesn’t want to have bored readers. It works out perfectly. Rolling Stone SA is all about writers who write from their heart. Keylock says, rather factually, that if a writer does not write from their heart, “it will eventually tear away at their soul.” A writer needs to have passion to write for Rolling Stone SA and if they have none, this will prove to be a problem.

An example of a brilliant piece of writing that has featured in the magazine is the article in the form of a love letter to Miriam Makeba by Bongani Madondo. This piece defines writing from the heart. It is personal but not boastful; it is poetic; it is a tribute to an incredible artist. If there is one Rolling Stone SA article you should read, I highly recommend this beautifully written one.

Rolling Stone SA is a magazine that informs, entertains and intellectually stimulates. It has proven my initial assumptions wrong in many ways. There are so many talented South African artists that haven’t been given the recognition they deserve yet. Rolling Stone SA does this for them. It also tells the stories of musicians that are famous already but still have so many interesting aspects to them we are not yet aware of. It is a magazine by South Africans for South Africans; it doesn’t try to put as many internationally-related things as it can into the magazine to get more sales. It doesn’t care if a musician is white or black, coloured or indian; if the artist unique and talented, skin colour doesn’t make them any more worthy of being featured in the magazine. Rolling Stone SA wants to tell the stories that haven’t been told, and believe it or not, there are so many we have yet to hear.

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