When I heard that Rolling Stone magazine was coming to South Africa   I wondered, is this going to be like watching a made-for South Africa American TV show? Would I cringe at the language being used or feel disappointed when I did not see anyone who looked like me or someone talking about the things I like to talk about? Those were my expectations but fortunately for young,black,female me  and  for all of us, Rolling Stone is more South African than it is American-made -for -South Africa.

The magazine appeals to the mind and soul by engaging critically with music and the musician, and with the history that has ultimately shaped both. Much like its editor, Miles Key lock, Rolling Stone South Africa embodies what it means to be rock n roll-unapologetically ruckus, real and outspoken.

In a country where creatives are not just censored but censor themselves, policing their own political correctness, it is refreshing to see a publication that speaks so openly on current and past cultural, social and political affairs. Discussing the musicians he has interviewed and the music he appreciates, Miles Key lock describes how this art form (music) is “rooted in decade’s worth of history” and how “we engage with history every day”. The magazine and the writers, the likes of which include Rian Malan, have a real appreciation for the fact that in South Africa “the past is the present”. It is not all rainbow nations and musical butterflies at every turn of the page, and for any South African writer to make a difference it should not be. There are many words left unsaid, looming in every conversation, encounter and interaction and someone ought to say them before they turn into something far more perverse. It is after all, truth before reconciliation and not reconciliation before truth.

Keylocks‘s slogan seems to be: “write something real!”  It is a challenge all young South Africans should take up not only to better their work but to better themselves for their work. When we are writers we are in the particularly privileged position of sharing with thousands what we know or think reality to be, we are purveyors of truth and so we should be honest and show integrity in our work. Now being honest doesn’t mean we are always right and it can sometimes offend or even hurt others, but that is our responsibility. This is the sort of sincerity absent in our conversations as intellectuals and individuals. This is the honesty which as journalists we so often decry our leaders as not having. But even we are capable of talking rubbish and if we do not write something we know about or are passionate about then in Key lock’s own words “it’s going to sound like BS”.

Telling real stories is what can make a difference. That is all Keylock is asking for -“a good story”. These are the real stories that so often go unmentioned or become fictitious adaptations on the cover of tabloids. I would like to believe that Rolling Stone  South Africa and its readers are  counter this consumer-friendly claptrap, and want entertainment, yes, but lust for insight. South African and African magazine’s can still take up a genuine space in the culture of our country while many others are too far gone in the haze of American or “western” sensationalism.  “We don’t want to colonize (your) minds” says Keylock. If we are going to be more specific here we do not, and should not, let our minds be wantonly attacked by ideals and stories that are so irrelevant to us. Yes they may have worth to South Africans too, we may enjoy them, but they do not have any credibility in this context. A line between the two ideas needs to be drawn, or at least written.

Rolling Stone South Africa may be a “music” or “entertainment” magazine but it is also a publication that takes its privilege seriously. It is not about exposing the country to good music, good artists and good writers. It is about highlighting those maverick, controversial and enlightened human beings who happen to make good music and write good pieces.

Young writers and artists need not separate their thoughts or even emotions from their work; this probably pleases everyone else except the readers. This kind of writing is not Rolling Stone material, nor is it very rock n’ roll. Interviewing “edgy “ bands and “exciting” people is  a waste of time if we do not allow ourselves to be “edgy” and “exciting’’ not only in the way we write or who we are, but what we choose to write about and who we choose to be. This generation needs people to pioneer, to be critical and challenge the status quo in whatever they do. Being a writer, like being a rock star is not a job -it is a calling!