The 2017 St. Louis Summer Fresh Festival will go down in Botswana’s entertainment history as one of the most memorable gigs in which a local artist simply took the game to the V.V.I.P international artist who was supposed to be the gig’s main act.
It is not just that “Batho Bame Exee!” Atlasaone A.T.I Molemogi pulled off a big stage entrance by landing mid-stage suspended in a crane’s zip line, this past Saturday the boy simply tore a page from the Michael Jackson Stage Entrance book and tore it up again and re-wrote his own story as an entertainment craftsman who’s decided to go big! The 1980s and 1990s in Botswana’s entertainment history are spoken of with such nostalgia which makes one so envious and wish they were born earlier to be part of the much-acclaimed shows by the UB40, Shabba Ranks and Salif Keita among others.
Before BTC recently made him its brand ambassador, there were questions about why ATI was ‘quiet’, with former Gabz FM drive time presenter Tshepo Ntshole pleading with Gaborone International Music Conference (GIMC) organizers to include him in their line-up as she felt he was being unduly ignored despite being so deserving of frequent bookings. “I have spoken to Fish (Pabalinga) about this and from his side there are challenges but I would be doing this kid’s talent a disservice if I don’t try to get him on the bill. Ga go padile ke tla bo ke lekile he deserves it. For his talent, for his manners and for simply being a Motswana kid who deserves a chance and for just being hardcore amazing,” she wrote in a Facebook status on 28th August.
Before that, his hit “Khiring Khorong” from his new album “Envelope,” released in June, was widely ignored but started getting the attention of many Batswana and radio stations when industry influencers and other figures started advocating for his talent. When he performed the song at the Summer Fest, it was part of a very creative medley that included his other songs “Ke Lekhete” and “Poelo Morago” which brought him to critical acclaim.
With this performance, it was as if ATI was answering many questions at the same time, the first being that the organizers of the weekend’s show did not make a mistake including him in the lineup and that he could out-perform any international act, including Davido- and whether the local entertainment industry likes it not, he is going to show everyone that he is worth the hype. ATI did not simply outperform Davido, he made a statement that he does not only deserve to headline any gig, locally or internationally, but to be paid in the pula equivalent of the dollars that are paid international artists like Davido.
“I have said it many times recently, ATI is the most creative and best stage performer in Botswana. I really believe he has surpassed both Franco and Vee who have been the best two. So, I am not surprised about what he did at the St. Louis Show. Let’s wait and see what kind of entrance he will make at his next gig,” said a praiseful Sidney Baitsile, an entertainment industry icon and former RB2, Gabz FM and Duma FM station manager.
A reveler who attended the show, obviously overjoyed, said “What a creative genius! No artist locally has attempted this ‘flying in move’ and I think that was very impressive, now I cannot wait for his next performance,” she said. Another one said the performance was simply ATI’s big comeback; “I hope he manages to be consistent and bring more of what we are not used to seeing.”
Talking to Time Out on Monday, ATI’s manager Lloyd Toteng said the feedback they are receiving is “massive”, but said it was not the first time the rapper pulled this sort of stunt “He has attempted a similar stunt previously at the Spring Explosion Festival but this time we partnered with the Fire Department who played a pivotal role in ensuring that the entrance was a success,” he said explaining that the stunt was ATI’s idea to prove that local artists can take their craft seriously.
The past weekend will probably go down in history as one in which everything came together for ATI and one for which, as they say the young man must be given a Bell’s! At the same time he did wonders at the Duma FM grounds, he won 6 BOMU Awards namely Best Album, Song of the year, Best male artist, Best single track, Best Collaboration and Best Hip Hop/Motswako album. “I am humbled by the support you all have given one of your own and thank you for the votes…and for that reason I wholeheartedly would love to donate the awards to the National Museum,” ATI said.