The genius of Moonchild Sanelly
She is the enfant terrible of the South African music scene, a French expression evolved to find its usage applied to art, fashion and music, implying a successful, and often young, “genius” who is very unorthodox, striking, and in some cases, offensive, or rebellious. Moonchild Sanelly ticks all the boxes.
A provocative and controversial artist, in pushing the envelope, Moonchild Sanelly fuses the charisma of a proto Brenda Fassie and the daring of an early Madonna, carving a unique urban relevance of her own. Like her iconic predecessors, she has forged a confrontational narrative of female empowerment, championing her sexuality into a visceral combination of music and live performance.
Her artistry cannot be denied. An elemental distillation and crafting of experimental electronic, Afro-punk and edgy-pop with hints of her strong kwaito, hip hop and jazz background into the genre of “Future ghetto-funk” is equally imaginative, raw and trailblazing.
Moonchild’s creativity, trademark blue hair, body confidence, tongue-in-cheek sexuality and provocative dancing translates into live performances that verge on art-happenings. Sanelly weaves her poetry cum rap into little manifestos of social and gender commentary. Her onstage antics become elevated pranks, playful acts of disobedience and rebellion that titillates her audience, only for her to flip the attention, at the last moment into a winking rebuke.
Recognized quickly as game changer, since Red Bull found her music through an EP on which she was featured with DJ Shimza, Sanelly has been busy. A breakout was followed by a feature on DJ Maphorisa’s smash hit “Midnight Starring” and a string of club bangers that included “Makhe” and “iWalk Ye Phara”. Her music has reached audiences beyond South Africa’s borders, playing at festivals like SXSW in Houston, Texas and Primavera Sound in Barcelona and from touring internationally with fellow agents of controversy, “Die Antwoord”. In no time “The Powers that be” came calling. Sanelly was featured on Beyonce’s “The Lion King: The Gift” album in the song “My Power” along with Busiswa and Nija.
Meantime, in 2020 Moonchild continues to qualify her “cool factor” with a surprise stage performance with DIPLO at BUX MIAMI during the SuperBowl Weekend, a gathering of 200 of the most influential creatives from around the world. Her burgeoning recognition for edginess is saluted by being chosen to wear the NOVA sneaker by Puma while other famous eccentric local celebrities. like visual artist Lady Skollie and musician Toya Delazy, wear her “Moonchild Cultwear” fashion range.
Only South Africa, with its contradictions, wealth of culture, and glut of talent could give birth to the likes of Moonchild Sanelly. Her artistic vision requires her to be brave. Only the brave dare to push, to question, to innovate – and this is the genius of Moonchild Sanelly.
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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