MADE Magazine Global Impact Issue - Page 8

MADEXXXX MADEART G lobalisation, for all its ills, has created space for meaningful cultural exchange. It has allowed people from across the world to be exposed to cultures they might not otherwise have had access to. This is the case for South Africa, which has come to have one of the largest house music scenes on the globe. Born out of the underground Chicago late 1980s-night life, as an electro post disco sound, house music could never have been anticipated to arrive in the country and resonate as deeply as it has as the soundtrack to late apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Johannesburg –the biggest city in the country and ranked top 10 wealthiest cities on the continent – is the heart of the hustle. It is no surprise that it is where house settled before spreading throughout South Africa. In a time where disco and struggle music was dominating the airwaves, house became an outlet for the younger generation that was optimistic for change. Many South African house DJs, producers and musicians cite Frankie Knuckles as their entry into the sound. DJ Euphonik’s 2003 “Domination” track samples Nelson Mandela’s “I Am Prepared to Die” speech, and evoking Frankie Knuckles’s “I Have A Dream”, which incorporates Martin Luther King’s speech. South African DJs took their love for house music a step further and birthed the sound known as kwaito today. They slowed down the usually 120BPM house sound to 100-90BPM, added more bass and vocals in vernacular CHICAGO’S HOUSE LIVES IN south africa languages and managed to create an authentically South African sound from music that they had imported. This may have been the only sound that was ever able to compete with house music in South Africa. Over the years house remained resilient as music that did not even need a club to be heard. The sound is ubiquitous on taxis, in townships and at taverns. Experimentation with house music has not stopped at kwaito. House musicians have also used jazz influences in the music to produce soulful sounds. At the forefront of this movement has been Mi Casa, the house group popular for incorporating brass sounds into their music. Even the legendary Hugh Masekela has dabbled in the genre. On his “Home Brewed” album, celebrated DJ Black Coffee collaborates with Bra Hugh on the song “We Are One” and, true to himself, Bra Hugh brings his trumpet to this optimistic house record. Today, a variation of house music called gqom (“q” is a click sound) – the word “gqomu” is onomatopoeia for the sound that the African drum makes – is dominating the party scene across South Africa. Gqom is heavier on the drums with rumbling synths and sometimes features vocals in vernacular languages, such as isiZulu. This pointing to where the sounds has emerged from: KwaZulu-Natal province. Three promising DJs who have taken the gqom scene by storm are DJ duo Distruction Boyz, Rude Boyz and the solo act Bhizer. From beginnings in Chicago, house music now comfortably lives in South Africa, evolving to suit the flavour of South Africa, especially as younger DJs experiment with it and appropriate it for their context. MADE BY ESINAKO NDABENI | 8