MTV Video Music Awards
Smith, Ludacris Help Launch African MTV Channel
The launch of MTV Networks 100th worldwide channel, MTV base, was celebrated with a concert in Johannesburg last night (April 20th), headlined by Will Smith and Ludacris.The launch of MTV Networks 100th worldwide channel, MTV base, was celebrated with a concert in Johannesburg last night (April 20th), headlined by Will Smith and Ludacris. The show also featured a lineup of top-notch African talent, including South Africans Lebo Mathosa and Mandoza, as well as Nigeria's Seun Anikyulapo Kuti and Fela's Egypt 80 Band.
MTV Networks Africa general manager Alex Okosi told Billboard.com he was thrilled with the progress made by MTV Networks' first pan-African music channel since its launch on the DSTV platform in February.
"Tonight's event is a testament to what we want to do, which is to show Africa that we are serious about what we came here to do," Okosi stated. "As an African man I couldn't be more proud to be part of this process that gives Africa a platform by having our artists alongside international artists. Words can't describe how incredibly happy I am with how the process is going."
Staged at the Top Star Drive-In on the edge of Johannesburg's central district, MTV 100th Live! will be broadcast around the world on MTV channels beginning May 20. Other artists featured last night were Danny K, performing with Mandoza (the two recently picked up a MTN South African Music Award for their 2004 album, "Same Difference") and hip-hop group Skwatta Kamp.
The South African outing followed a smaller celebratory concert in the Nigerian city of Abuja, featuring Ludacris and 2 Face, whose video, "African Queen" was the first by an African artist to appear on MTV base.
"We chose South Africa and Nigeria because those two markets are of particular importance to us -- we want our viewers in these countries to experience what MTV base is all about and that's what these concerts give."
Smith, who is one of Nelson Mandela's 46664 HIV/AIDS awareness ambassadors, said he had met with the former President earlier this week and that he had been in tears when Mandela "put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'I'm getting old, Willy, I need you' [in the fight against HIV/AIDS] and of course I said, whatever you need.'"
During his set, which featured Jazzy Jeff on the turntables, Smith featured 10 drummers and 35 dancers, many South African. He proved a huge crowd pleaser by playing such hits as his new single, "Switch,” as well as "Men in Black" and "Gettin' Jiggy With It.”
Ludacris, who last week shot a music video in South Africa's Kwa-Zulu Natal province, brought Skwatta Kamp on stage to perform "Get Back,” and also joined the group for its current hit, “The Clap Song.”
"I've traveled all across the world in my job and visited a lot a different places, countries and continents,” Ludacris said. “And I can honestly say that here in South Africa is the only place that I don't feel homesick after a few days.”