Weekend Music Break


South African kwaito group Mafikizolo underscored their comeback this week with the release of the video for “Khona” off their new album, Reunited. The video which also features vocals from Uhuru and Mapiano, takes the group back to the village with brightly colored Ndebele wall paintings, Basotho blankets and flamboyant dancing. Since its debut in December, Khona has already become a global club hit and this video will further prove that Nhlanhla Nciza and Theo Kgosinkwe still got it:

Nostalgia for returning to the traditional village life in South Africa must be widespread amidst neoliberal disenchantment because DJ Ganyani and FB also return to their Tsonga roots in the video for “Xigubu”.

Nigerians Show Dem Camp, with Poe and Boj, give us a laid back song for the summer in “Feel Alright”. Ha!!!!!

More proof that high-energy kuduro music is designed for all ages comes from Angola where Gege Kuya Bwe and company live the kuduro life in the video “Batata”. With trademark Angolan style, this dance-heavy video likely doesn’t feature anyone over the age of 7.

Sinkane drops another stellar video from his impressive Mars album with the song “Warm Spell”. In this retro-feeling video, an entrancing guitar riff is overlaid with even more entrancing visuals of lithe, graceful women and flowers. Legendary painter Georgia O’Keefe would certainly approve.

In their video for “That Lazy Song” rising stars Black Motion demonstrate what makes South African house music so unique. Its well crafted beat is infused perfectly with smooth jazz rhythms and hypnotic vocals. Perfect for the impeccably dressed to get down.

Meanwhile in The Gambia… hip hop crew S.T. Da Gambian Dream use their Mandinka flows as a vehicle to express the frustrations of youth in the country and while they’re at it, talk a little shit.

There’s a new video for French rapper Fababy (real name: Fabrice Ayékoué):

Jazz band Stone Ground Souls, which features members from Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United States, performed this past week in Lesotho. In this live video for the song “Roots Grown Deep”, the group’s resident sand-painter Tawanda Mhandu creates an ever-evolving masterpiece amidst the wailing of brass. They call their style “Musical-Visual Synthesis”.

And staying in the jazz vein, Alissa Sanders croons “Dindi” in a video shot by the Nigerian-British artist Zina Saro-Wiwa. The daughter of the Ogoni activist/writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed by Nigeria’s Abacha regime, Zina has been paving her own artistic path for awhile now. She recently completed a fascinating three-part video installation called Eaten by the Heart that was commissioned by the Menil Collection for their exhibition The Progress of Love.

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8 thoughts on “Weekend Music Break

  1. I’m rather interested in the connection of a lot of house music (rather specifically) in South Africa to tradition-nostalgia. (It certainly isn’t a new or trend-specific phenomenon, having been present even before the genre’s wider commercial breakthrough.) Quite beyond that plausible escapist interpretation, I’m fascinated by the connection to so-called “tribal” and “Afro” house, two musically rather disparate genres with themes that smack of white privilege and racist exotification. And yet there’s a strong thematic and often also musical connection between these scenes and contemporary South African house – where the same imagery is used and presented in a competely different context, with different actors. What does it mean when a South African (rather than a Swiss) musician invokes the trope of the “tribe”, for instance? Especially if they’re working in a similar field and may be in active exchange?

    (Another query along similar lines would be how the universalist pan-Africanism that’s also present in a lot of South African house relates to stereotype-laden, diversity-denying Afro-reductivism from say Afro House.)

  2. Great playlist, indeed. I am loving that south african house music. As a lover of the genre, from the bluesy darkness of Tricky to the global mashing sound of Thievery Corporation, and everything in between (Felix the Housecat…), I find it to be a reverse of the standard (take the genre, give it a regional flavor) and is instead what seems to define good African music, take the flavor, give it a genre. As a lover of S. African music, rocked to Jhonny Clegg & SAvuka, LAdysmith, Hugh Masekela, Lucky Dube…, each one of whom has a distinct vehicle for their south african soul. Unlike Johan, I do sense, not “tradition-nostalgia” when speaking of S. African house, but forays into different sonic realms off a solid cultural grounding.
    The architectural metaphor would be for a Burkinabe to build a clay house using western tools, compared to a Burkinabe building a western house using local tools.One would have soul and structural soundness, the other wouldn’t.
    Finally, LOVE the Khona song, both sonically and visually.

  3. “stereotype-laden, diversity-denying Afro-reductivism” (sho! that’s a mouthful) aside, YOU CAN REALLY DANCE TO IT….something we should all be doing more of wouldn’t you agree?

  4. @drebellious, @johan and @po: thanks for the great comments and interesting discussion. Very insightful thoughts about South African house.

  5. Thank you for being a curator and providing the outlet for commenting. Too often when we think a musical genre/style is dead, it is because we don’;t know as much about it as we should. I have been disconnected from African music for a while and thought it decrepit, Thanks to this blog, I have realized it is as thriving, rich and diverse as I remember it; and am loving it.
    Dinner is usually Pandora or daily show time at my house, but I have been playing these playlists as an entertainment/educational tool for my kids, and they are loving this aspect of Africa they are seeing through these videos.
    Also thank you for coming back on line to acknowledge our presence. The only gripe I have with AIAC is that too often the posts are orphaned at birth and rely on the readers to keep them alive, and too many great discussions peter out when they ought to have been more productive, simply for lack of a word back/moderating from the author (I am looking at you, Sean!)

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