Castle Lite celebrates women who are unapologetically honest. The Hip Hop Herstory explores the role of and impact women have had on hip-hop culture. It will concentrate on female excellence in the genre, shared through their untold stories.

In a day of fun, 8 September, women’s contribution to and evolution will be celebrated through music, a fashion show, dance and more.

We chatted to Lerato “Leratolicious” Sengadi, brand innovator, PR specialist and influencer maven, to find out more about what she’ll be doing there and her thoughts on the hip-hop scene.

Tell us about your journey as a woman with a successful career who is unapologetically herself.

Being authentically you is not always easy in a world where women are typically told how to look, behave, speak, dress and live. I accepted very early on in my career that being unapologetically me is the one thing I know I can do very well.

From being a copywriter, to an events co-ordinater and finally settling into the wonderful world of innovative marketing and PR, I have used my global exposure and creative flair to execute effective campaigns and strategies for big brands. I am very blessed to have worked with clients who give me room to create and innovate and add my special view of the world to their marketing. The secret to my success is being unapologetically me!

The Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory is almost here. Why do you think such an event is needed for both hip-hop culture and women doing amazing things?

The Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory is extremely important because it will be the first time that female MCs are celebrated on this scale in South Africa. Women are no longer seen a mere artists co-signed by males and are now enjoying unparalleled success, both lyrically and financially. Throughout the history of hip-hop women have dropped some standout verses, sold out tours and developed brands that will go into the record books.

Looking at the current state of the hip-hop industry – how do you think the representation of women has changed over the years?

The story of hip-hop has always been told from the male perspective, celebrating their accomplishments. However, women have played a very important role in its development and evolution. From Millie Jackson, MC Sha Rock, Roxanne Shanté, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Left Eye, to Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy, Da Brat, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and Remy Ma, the list of women who have moulded the genre is endless. A special shou- out to Lee Kasumba for being an eternal inspiration and lighthouse in the hip-hop game!

My love for hip-hop began when I heard Salt-N-Pepa. I didn’t know what rap was, but I knew that these ladies sounded cool and looked confident. I wanted to be just like them (prior to that my benchmark for cool was Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Dominique Deveraux from Dyasty, Letta Mbuli, Brenda Fassie, etc). But when my cousin came back to visit from the USA and exposed me to hip-hop, my life was changed forever!

The women behind the scenes have equally played a monumental role in mounding the culture. Be it in styling iconic looks, managing and building artists into mega-brands, ensuring an artist’s public image is untarnished, opening corporate doors to “the culture”, curating world-class experiences around artists and so on. These are the unsung heroes of the culture!

What will you be doing at the Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory?

I’ll be singing, dancing and celebrating the amazing women who are the engine of the industry. I’ll probably be watching in awe at how far women have come in a genre I love so much.

Anything else to add?

I’ve been in the hip-hop industry for over a decade and a half. I’ve seen it rise in South Africa. It has become well decorated and validated, gaining its own particular voice and style.

I’ve worked with legendary hip-hop artists and current superstars and brokered monumental deals and effective strategies that have seen brands and the culture merge in an unprecedented way.

However, the culture and its integrity is constantly at risk from culture vultures. It’s up to me and many like me who work tirelessly behind the scenes to protect it as much as possible and keep it evolving. I believe that the true custodians of the culture are women.

The Castle Lite Hip Hop Herstory takes place on 8 September at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Get your tickets here​.

More information:

Castle Lite is not for sale to persons under the age of 18.