MTV celebrates launch of MTV Base in South Africa

MUMBAI: MTV celebrated the launch of its 100th channel worldwide and also MTV's first ever African music channel - MTV Base - in South Africa yesterday.

Against the dramatic Johannesburg night skyline, the music of Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ludacris, Lebo Mathosa, Mandoza, Seun Kuti and Fela's Egypt 80 Band, and Skwatta Kamp held the crowd of music fans spellbound.

"MTV Base as the company's 100th channel is the most anticipated launch in our history - it's our first dedicated African service and takes MTV's global footprint to every region of the world," said MTV Networks International president Bill Roedy.

"MTV Base celebrates the diversity of vibrant music culture across Africa, while offering rich, creative inspiration for MTV's global network," he further added.

Performed on a custom-built set at the Ster Kinekor Top Star Drive In, a spectacular site overlooking the city of Johannesburg, the MTV base 100th live concert was devised as a tribute to the international and African artists loved by the young, African audience, mixing rap with the kwaito rhythyms of Mathosa and Mandoza and Kuti's pounding Afrobeat.

Kicking off the night was Seun Anikyulapo Kuti, emerging from the shadows of his legendary late father, Fela Kuti, to give a stunning performance featuring powerful vocals, funky saxophone solos and frenetic dance. Mind-blowing sets from South African sensations Lebo Mathosa and Mandoza followed, with uplifting kwaito beats and stirring melodies.

Ludacris wowed the crowed with a pounding performance characterised by his trademark energy and raw lyrics, with South African hip hop stars Skwatta Kamp joining him on stage for an electrifying collaboration.

Commenting on the launch of MTV's first African music channel, the Atlanta-born hip hop artist summed up the launch of Africa's first MTV channel as 'a historic moment'.

Will Smith made a dramatic entrance on a throne, flanked by a throng of sizzling dancers. Backed by DJ Jazzy Jeff, his electrifying performance featured pyrotechnics, drummers and a state of the art light show. His set, which featured tracks from his new album Lost and Found as well as hits from his long recording career, commenced with a triumphant entry to The Champ Is Here, followed by popular tracks, Men In Black, Jiggy With It and Summertime.

Smith's performance was punctuated with a specially recorded message from former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, taped at a meeting between Smith and Mandela on 19 April 2005.

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