With the RBMA World Tour stopping in Cape Town this weekend, Chris Parkin takes a quick look at what’s hot in South African music...
South African’s musical heritage is, like any musical hotspot in the world, a mixed bag. The country gave us Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela, Manfred Mann and, by association, Paul Simon’s Graceland. But it also allowed psytrance to develop and keeps spawning more dodgy pub rock outfits than you can wave a stubby at.
But here are a few (mostly positive) musical reasons why South Africa is on the RBMA World Tour schedule...
Pretoria-born DJ Mujava is responsible for 2008’s club smash Township Funk (below) – a stripped-bare and banging example of kwaito, a form of slowed-down house. It emerged from the post-apartheid Johannesburg townships in the 1990s and took its name from the Afrikaans slang for kicking and angry. The first kwaito hit was Arthur Mafokate’s Kaffir.
Afro-rock experimentalists from Johannesburg signed to revered American indie label Secretly Canadian. Blending their Zulu heritage with prog, post-hardcore and the sweet melodies of traditional South African music, theirs is a strangely intoxicating but nervy kind of music. They performed at the opening ceremony at last year’s World Cup.
One of the biggest talking points in music last year. Not just in South Africa, but everywhere. Much of the debate surrounds their authenticity: are they for real or just a very convincing joke? The collective play filthy – and we do mean filthy – hip-hop voiced in English, Afrikaans and local slang, and backed by an agreeably grubby sort of minimal house and electro. The band’s unsetttling 2010 music videos won them a major label deal after they went viral.
Spoek Mathambo specialises in sweaty, sexy glam-rap and sparse, bass-heavy electro. He’s one of South Africa’s music stars most likely to succeed internationally and has just inked a deal with Sub Pop in the US. He often performs with Sibot and Markus Wormstorm, both of who are playing the Cape Town RBMA bill this weekend alongside drum'n'bass legend Dillinja.