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The Justice of Just T

The Justice of Just T

If justice favours some at the expense of others, then it is not justice at all but rather ‘just-us’. It is from this determination that this conception of justice, in its pious propagation, is nothing but a con. What is true justice if not the call for justice by those who are at the receiving end of injustice which marks itself as justice? In a true sense, justice is restoration and reparation. Also, and more fundamentally, it is about righting wrongs.

Where things are and where they are supposed to be, a Ga-Rankuwa-born and Mabopane-bred Tshegofatso Chibogo, a Pretorian by the stage name of Just T, makes sure that they are in place. She puts in place what has been replaced and displaced. This, in a true sense, is justice. Putting things where they belong is the technical work that is done on music. This can be said to be “doing justice to the music". Just T boldly declares her love for music and everything that has to do with it. This is who she is by stating even going on to say that she is one with music, inseparable!

Just T grew up listening to jazz, thanks to the influence of her father, Andrew Chibogo, who used to host jazz sessions at their home. Music has been a part of her life ever since, and after completing matric, she planned to study music formally. She majored in vocals and also learned to play the guitar. In 2009, she began her DJ career, starting with vinyl and later transitioning to CDJs. Just T chose to become a DJ as she wanted to continue her study of music through a different avenue and fulfil her passion for music.

After seeing DJ Zinhle on television, Just T's passion for music was ignited. However, as she began to explore the music industry, she noticed that certain genres were considered more suitable for male DJs. Despite this gender bias, Just T remained determined and refused to let anything stand in the way of her pursuing her dreams. She found inspiration in the rare music that defied traditional gender norms and used it as motivation to push forward in her career. Just T's story serves as a reminder of the importance of breaking down gender stereotypes and pursuing our passions regardless of societal expectations. Of course, she is one with music and this is a fusion that marks all possibilities. Watching DJ Zinhle on Channel O and listening to her on various radio platforms, made her take being a DJ very seriously. Most importantly, she wanted to be different and play what she felt, in her way. Music has always been a subject of interest for Just T since her formative years in school. Her father, Andrew Chibogo, hosted jazz sessions at home and would attend others, further exposing her to different genres of music. After completing her matric, Just T pursued her passion for music by formally studying it. In 2009, she decided to take her love for music to the next level and embarked on a journey to become a DJ. She practised, practised, and practised.

She played and formed a duet with DJ Soul B and both were known for their back-to-backs. It must be stated that it is Soul B who gave her the stage name “Just T" at Zygos Spot in Mabopane.

As a result of being undermined, she became more determined, and her passion was fueled. She kept pushing, and eventually, she was able to play deep tech, dub, and breakbeat. She defines her music by playing what resonates with her soul and what awakens her spirit, and that is what she wants to share, in abundance. She is who she is because of what she plays.

At Kitcheners, she delivers hectic sets. She views Kitcheners as more than just a venue to perform in, but rather as a community where she can connect with people through music. Just T pours her heart and soul into her sets, always striving to deliver the best experience possible. For her, Kitcheners represents a platform where she can express herself freely and truly showcase her musical talents. This sense of purpose is what drives her to continue pushing boundaries and innovating within the industry.

Just T's soundscape is a representation of her commitment to justice. She achieves this by pushing the boundaries of the art of DJing and taking it to new heights. Her unique approach puts the art form at the forefront and elevates it to an extraordinary level, truly doing justice to its craft.

The long-held belief that being a DJ is exclusively for men has been shattered. Just T's pursuit of justice involves challenging patriarchal norms in the DJ industry and making space for women. Her powerful sets speak for themselves, but the struggle to break down gender barriers in the DJ booth continues. If the lineup were to be concealed, the assumption would be that there is a male DJ at the helm. This highlights the need for continued efforts to create opportunities and platforms for women in the industry. Undeniably, this has been a patriarchal myth that still stinks on the dancefloor. Just T will be complimented for being a masculine DJ as opposed to a great DJ. The perpetuation of this injustice is what denies her to be a force to be reckoned with outside the sexist reductions. What is also emphasized by this decadence is that her sets should be soulful and smooth as opposed to being deep. It means that she cannot be the one who does what she does. Faced with the predicament and prejudices that women are typically subjected to, and their greatness being denied, Just T works tirelessly not to prove herself, but to do what she does, what she loves. She cannot afford to be deterred and dictated to.Just T has a motto that she strongly adheres to, which is "music must hit hard and the bass must be felt in the stomach". This philosophy is reflected in her powerful sets, which often feature tracks that are lesser-known but equally impactful. It is the beauty of this unfamiliarity that shows that one can think about the plethora of the subgenres of house music and, also note, all that comes in the refiguring of the genre by elasticizing it as opposed to any form of constriction. It is in this territory where unfamiliarity is cool. Things go deep and that is where the territory is, deep down there, out there even. Thriving deep in the underground is the articulation of justice hailing all things heavy for the tongues to articulate, whose world is something different altogether, what is not of this place. This is the unfamiliar, but what is not at all strange to those who inhabit the world of the underground.
Fetching the music deep from its bowels, coming down on it, hammering it, shaping it, tailoring the sensorium, setting things apace, something is going on in Just T’s intense sets that morph easily in the sub-genres of broken beat, deep techno, and afro-tech. It is here that the bang comes in and that myth of the lady DJ stuck to soul falls apart. The groove is in the name of intensity. Indeed, the intense sub-genres that inform her sets are not what comes in the spirit of compromise but combat. It is being hit with the groove, and nothing else.

In pursuit of justice, rather than just entertainment, there is a just cause behind doing the right thing. It is right to play broken beat, deep techno, and afro-soul in one set. The territory must be a place that is there, and it is still that marginality and externality. There is now another project in place, and it is that of justice because things are not right, and it means that there are wrongs that must be turned right. If there are wheels of justice, they cannot turn slow as the judiciary apparatus is typically known, here things have to move fast with the urgency and the passion that says, “Justice now!” Just T's sets exude a sense of urgency, marking and charting new territory where the celestial and terrestrial meet. This space is defined by a relentless pursuit of justice, making it a place where all can live freely and fully. Just T's explorative and explosive music is a call to action, inviting us to join in the journey of discovering and inhabiting this new realm. It's a reminder of the power of music to transcend boundaries and create spaces for liberation and empowerment.

Rather than being a pre-existing space, the territory created by Just T's music is one that must be forcefully established in the face of denial and oppression. It's a place where everyone can live freely and fully, but which is not automatically given or guaranteed. Through her music, Just T challenges the status quo and calls for a new reality where justice and equality are at the forefront. Her work serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for a more just and inclusive society. Forced occupation as the right to territory. Being walled and/or fenced out, means that the territory is for some and not others. The latter are made to be outside. They must stay there, and vegetate on the margins. It is in these margins that the place of dwelling becomes constructed. Amidst the underground music scene, Just T's work is a necessary and urgent call to action. Her refusal to succumb to the pressure to depoliticize and sanitize the intensity and complexity of broken beat and techno music serves as a powerful statement for justice. Through her music, she keeps the underground movement fed and fueled, sustaining a perpetual motion towards carving out a space that is both for and within itself. Just T's work embodies the spirit of resistance and creative expression, serving as a reminder of the vital role that music can play in the fight for a more just and equitable society.

Just T is defined by her acts of justice in service of the territory she has carved out through her music. She embodies a sense of duty to stand up for oneself, to assert oneself, to connect with others, and to change oneself in the name of justice. This means that there can be no looking back or betraying the cause that one has committed to pursuing. In the pursuit of justice, it is imperative to assert confidently that changing oneself must also mean changing the circumstances one finds oneself in. Just T's work serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of music and its ability to inspire action towards a more just and equitable society.

The work of justice is a collaborative effort that catalyzes change through collective action rather than reducing everything to individual efforts. Those who are engaged in the common project of justice work together towards the radical pursuit of justice. This collaborative effort is a reminder that justice must be done both in heaven and on earth. Through her music, Just T embodies this spirit of collective action and inspires us to join in the struggle towards a more just and equitable society.

That is why, in the now, thus the urgency of the pursuit, the radical sounding of Just T is what deals with the celestial and the terrestrial. It is the re-writing of the script where the domain of law is not a patriarchal affair and the exclusive domain but bringing things to the level where they are supposed to be. This means there is not here and there as radically separate but what is fused into one, the now. This is the urgency of justice, and it is reformulated right here and now. The charting of the territory is what is not postponed to the future whereas planning is something that is deferred into the future. There is no matter of the dream deferred here as there is no waiting for justice to be delivered. Justice is acted about right here and now as things are unfolding live. Things are in the domain of actualization, and what is happening is experimented upon without fearing error. But, still, even, there is no room for that error. There is no respite, and despite everything that must be “despite,” the groove must go on. This is the groove of justice; it comes with the cost of having to give more. It is the cost that is not feared, it is what is supposed to be done. If justice will be done, it will be done by Just T in doing what she does.

If justice will be done in heaven while there is injustice on earth, Just T wants it re-scripted, and this means that right here and now there should be justice. Or, put simply, there should be justice on earth as it is in heaven. This is the territory that is being redefined. Injustice cannot reign. It is not a normal state. If there is a territory of injustice, it must be re-territorialized in the name of justice. In short, there is a call for territory without injustice. In the world making of the underground music scene, it means that Just T’s justice is what reconfigures the celestial and the terrestrial. In this case, the question of territory is not what is marked to be defended and inhabited. It is, by way of the curatorship of tracks that are unknown and some unlicensed, the launching of what comes to form the soundscape of what is the territory which can be marked as the sacred space. It is in this sacredness that those who are in communion are summoned to come and take the journey that takes them deep.
In this territory of broken beat, techno sound, dwells Just T’s justice. She plays what comes and resonates with her soul. She does justice to herself. She refuses to do injustice to herself by playing what is outside herself. She refuses to pander to the whims of injustice just to please and pass time. Dwelling in the moment, and staying in the mechanics of justice is what she does. It means, then, being truthful to herself she makes music to tell its truth. As each channel of the mixer goes up and the other down in the process of mixing, knobs being turned and the sound being defined and refined, justice is done to broken techno, to make its tongue of justice to be articulated and the auditory affairs should be attuned to get the message. Justice is what is done, and it is always in its name. That stands to be remembered as the mainstay.

There is something deep and fundamental that comes in the name of playing what Just T feels, and it cannot be mistaken that if she is doing justice to the music she curates, that ultimately means that she is not burdened by the cause of justice, but by its love. It can be said, more fiercely, that Just T loves justice. She loves it to the point that her life is defined by it. She is in selfless service. She not only lives up to the name of justice, but she is its embodiment. Perhaps to say, more directly, Just T is justice. This is the name that makes itself known to what it is in service of. The hard work that comes with justice does not mean victory; it is a struggle. It means more and more defeats than victories. The hardships that come with the territory which is the mis-en-scéne of this art of DJing, and the commerce around it, the struggle that taxes the soul more than what it can lavishly generate, tells more about the mean-spiritedness that inspires the love and service for justice which is not for oneself but its extension with and for others. The territory that Just T finds herself in is the one in which she has to wage the struggle for justice.

Refusing to know her place and making a mark in the territory that is the underground, Just T is swelling the ranks of those who want to see fundamental change. Claiming the mantle of a DJ worth her salt, the refusal to be pampered and patronized, her firm standing as the DJ worthy of her name, justice qua Just T, there is the operation at hand which shows that the urgency that becomes her constitutive element which is not the injustice of showcasing and tokenism. Being the heavyweight of broken beat, deep techno, and afro-tech, this is not the question of the niche, but the calling of justice and serving and living in its name, the purpose of it as a just cause, that makes Just T to be the one who is shifting the paradigms of the DJ booth. She is swelling the ranks of her forerunners and contemporaries. Changing things around and even overhauling them has meant the just cause which cannot be abandoned.

The pedagogy of justice has been radically unfolding in the long genealogy of DJs. Being part of those who are impassioned with this pedagogy of justice, Just T is a passionate and selfless pedagogue of justice. By sharing her passion for justice with others, she is preaching and teaching this justice from the DJ booth. She is the pedagogue who does not claim to know it all. Long-life learning and work mean that she becomes the student of the music she plays, and she and her mentors and interlocutors are exploring the means of charting the territory that allows many worlds to co-exist. This can only be possible if justice is cultivated in the practices that renew the ways of inhabitation and relations. It is in this renewal that the pedagogy of justice will mean learning to unlearn what has been inculcated as the right thing while that was the logic of injustice. The prevailing pedagogy of justice will only emerge if that is the value that is shared, spread, and streamed to the consciousness of living in a different world.

For now, it is the underground world which the modern colonial world refuses to embrace because the valorization of certain tastes is done at the expense of others. But the endurance of the underground is not devoid of joy. There is life in the underground. It is the life that is remaking the world where the celestial and the terrestrial are one. It is the re-mapping that the work of justice does. This is not, at all, an easy task. It is a hard one because those who are underground are refused to be on the surface. The more they emerge they are pushed under and/or out. But they do not seek to ingratiate themselves to the dictates that deny them. They want their form of justice. It is their terms that they dictate and agitate for. It is them who come to call justice what it is in its true name—say, what is right and just. It is not some enclosed abstraction that needs the elitist, aristocratic, and exclusivist territories whose enclosure means that justice is for a few. Of course, this is a fabrication that Just T exposes.

But, then, what is it that is in this justice of Just T? It cannot be a guess, but the ultimate logos of what is true. Justice is true when it is righting the wrongs. What comes right is what turns its back to the lies that have been perpetuated. The true nature of this operation means that change comes into effect and things become what they were not before. Just T does justice is staying true to the self. This becomes articulated in playing what she truly feels. She is pushed to be true even to the set she delivers. True music, for Just T’s set, comes from the truth that is cemented in her and, that again, radiates in her heart, it is what her soul expresses, and what her hands do. In doing this, Just T is doing justice.

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Tendayi Sithole

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