Spoek Mathambo’s World

No we’re not on a mini-Spoek Mathambo marathon today. Intrigued by Spoek’s remix of Seun Kuti and the trailer for his new album, we googled Spoek anew and stumbled upon this video of a 2011 presentation Spoek gave at TedxSoweto (it was only uploaded onto Youtube at the end of last month). What I find useful about the video is that it offers a compact picture of Spoek’s biography: from Soweto via the “suburban island” of Sandton to where he finds himself now as a sort of global electro-rapper. It’s worth the 20 odd minutes if you want to get a sense of his influences. He talks about his record collections, his dad’s record collections, local and international musical influences (including Max Normal/Waddy Jones of Die Antwoord fame), South Africa’s HIV culture of fear, cultures of kwaito and party, Ghanaian and Nigerian film posters (where he referenced his last album cover), the inspiration of Nigerian DIY (horror) movie culture, making Africa a smaller place through new media, the crucial point of representation (“the more that we don’t represent ourselves, the more people will make careers out of misrepresenting us or representing us the way they want to represent us”) and his collaboration with fellow South African, photographer Pieter Hugo (and Hugo’s critics). Hugo’s work is contrasted with that of American photographer Phyllis Galembo on West African masquerades and South African artist Michael MacGarry. He also gives his interpretation of ‘Umshini Wami’, and his fundamentals: “How am I representing myself? How am I representing the people of Africa? And is accuracy [when building a ‘speculative fiction’ through his work] important?”


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