The Editor of The Plug talks about her love for hip-hop
Since its inception mid-2016, Caron Williams has edited The Plug, an important platform celebrating hip hop. Originally from Polokwane, Caron grew up in Cape Town, which instilled in her a profound love for the genre.
“I always felt lost and, as cliché as it sounds, hip-hop is the only place that has always felt like home to me. I remember being 15 sneaking into Marvel on Long Street and seeing Raiko there. Julian Kubel of Butan Wear selling snapbacks. I’d pass by Woodstock and see Faith47’s art. I’d watch countless doccies on POC, Black Noise and Mr Devious. I became enthralled with the culture.”
Caron believes that hip-hop is ultimately about expression, and that fashion is as big a part of the culture as breakdancing, graffiti and emceeing are. While she could probably write an entire thesis on this, she has one golden rule: “do not follow trends.”
Aesthetically, Caron is a mix of Adrianne Ho and Emmanuelle Alt, and will wear jeans with a tee to an interview with a rapper and then switch up her sneakers for heels and throw on a blazer for a meeting with a client afterwards.
Hip-hop is an organic part of Caron’s life and because she needs to dress the part, we asked her to make some selects from our product and then spoke to her about hustle, style and that article.
As far as hip-hop style goes, are there even any rules anymore, and which artists have you been known to take inspiration from when getting dressed?
I enjoy Pac’s style a lot; he’s genuinely a fashion icon to me. I find hip-hop’s current embrace of neon and pastel colours amazing. From 3 Stacks to Thug and Uzi, seeing hip-hop experiment with what is traditionally viewed as feminine clothing is also very intriguing. I genuinely don’t think there are any rules anymore and that we’re entering the first truly androgynous fashion era in hip-hop.
Who are our country's best-dressed hip-hop stars?
DJ Speedsta and Nomuzi’s combos are always fire; I love how much they’re embracing local streetwear brands. Everyone else’s looks just feel very contrived at the moment. There’s an abundance of Vlone and Off-Wht fakes worn by Tyler, the Creator and ASAP Mob wannabe’s. It’s uninspiring.
Tell us about the selects you made here and why you've made them?
On an average day, you’ll definitely find me in a pair of sneakers and a tee – something that’s easy to put together and comfortable to be in the entire day. I love adidas and their range of tees. I love items I can dress up or down. I could easily rock the oversized adidas Osaka sweatshirt on a normal day or an oversized version of it and match it with a pair of heels or ankle boots for a night out. My style is generally very minimalist, but I love rocking a statement piece sometimes. The Stevie boots from dailyfriday are amazing. I love earthy and pastel tones so the Air Max Jewell SI and Stan Smith Bolds are so beautiful to me.
The Plug isn’t your only gig, you also work in advertising?
I finally took a break from working in the ad world a month and a half ago. I had been working two jobs for a year and a half and I found myself burnt out. I used to romanticise outworking everyone and sacrificing myself for my jobs, but age has taught me better. I love working with brands but since taking a break from the industry, I’ve realised I hate the advertising industry as it currently is. The advertising industry is also extremely racist and risking losing my job each time I spoke out about that became tedious.
After you wrote your incendiary article, Khaya Dlanga called you "the most important voice in SA hip-hop right now", UCT dissected your feature in a media studies tutorial and some twitter troll said that a white woman shouldn't be heading up a title on urban culture...
There's a level of idealism attached to hip-hop that is necessary for its survival – people buy into the dream as much as they buy into the craft – and when you threaten or demystify that, many people are going to be uncomfortable with what they believe in being questioned. I think that was a big part of that article going viral, people felt either vindicated for having long held that view, or felt personally attacked by it. The personal attacks I received sucked. My surname is a legacy of Apartheid, so someone trying to dismiss my article by calling me white is lazy, I shouldn’t have to explain that both my parents are black for my stance to be considered legitimate.
What were the major learnings from going viral?
The biggest learning is that once you put a piece like that out into the world, it no longer belongs to you. The discourse that ensued was much bigger than I could have ever fathomed. It was an important debate that needed to happen and my piece was just a catalyst, nothing more. Khaya’s words were immensely kind and many people echoed his view, but I’ve learned that if you accept or internalise the praises, you have to do the same with the criticisms and trolls and none of it is healthy. Most of it is fake and disingenuous. My job is to be the best Editor I can be, and to move, celebrate and inspire people – the rest is just politics.
What's coming up in The Plug that you're particularly proud of?
We’re having an exhibition to launch our November Edition with three cover stars that I’m immensely excited about. 2018 is going to be a defining year for the team and we aspire to build more properties under The Plug umbrella. A big goal is evolving The Plug into a boutique agency that can offer content solutions for brands that are keen on building a relationship with the demographic we have a relationship with. I’m really obsessed with Complex’s approach to video content at the moment and can’t wait till we’re at the stage where we can do the same.