Jul 22, 2015

From Mali: Idrissa Soumaoro - Ampsa

A classic and seldom heard LP from Bamako! Not just your average Malian LP, Ampsa features has to be heard to be believed organ, hypnotic guitar and amazing sweet vocals. A truly great LP and must have for fans of Malian music. A faithful reproduction of the original with the addition of liner notes by Florent Mazzoleni. A co release with Singasongfighter.

Jul 20, 2015

Richard Russell about Ethiopia

Richard Russell is the boss of XL Recordings (home of Radiohead, Vampire Weekend, Jack White etc.) and the producer of recent classics such as the late Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here and Bobby Womack’s The Bravest Man in the Universe (together with Damon Albarn). In 2010 Richard travelled to Harar, Ethiopia, as part of the Africa Express along with fellow producer Rodaidh McDonald. Their Ethiopian visit resulted in the release of the four track Ethiopian EP last year on Angular Records under the name Fresh Touch (named after a Harari restaurant).

The lead track Harar Rythm is a co-production with Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and is accompanied by a stunning video of archival footage of Ethiopian landscapes, Harari musicians as well as Emperor Haile Selassie (who was born in a village close to Harar). Harar Rythm and the other tracks on the EP is a thrilling mix of traditional Ethiopian chanting, clapping, various other sounds recorded in buses and hotel rooms across Ethiopia together with electronic loops and samples. The result is fairly unique and throroughly hypnotic.

We recently got the chance to ask Richard about the wisdom he gained in Ethiopia. Find out how the Ethiopian visit influenced his recent productions and tune into Harar Rhytm below:

Although the Ethiopian musical tradition is incredible rich and nuanced, many foreigners’ knowledge of Ethiopian music is still limited to Mulatu Astatke’s ethio jazz. Was it a deliberate choice from your side that you wanted to do something very far from ethio jazz?

There wasn’t any plan. We didn’t even know we were making an EP. We were just inspired to create by our surroundings. Ethiopia is an extraordinarily inspiring place. It has an energy completely unlike anywhere else in the world.

How was it working in Ethiopia compared to your recent experience recording in DR Congo?

Everything about our trip to Ethiopia was different from our trip to DRC. Both were life-changing, and from a musical perspective you couldn’t ask for more broadening experiences. We went to Ethiopia simply to learn, to experience places. We ended up making an EP. It was very laid back. Whereas we went to DRC specifically to make an album for Warp, in a short space of time, so there was a bit more pressure. It felt like Kinshasa and Addis are like different planets… but I guess we see the world, as we are, rather than it actually is… so I’m sure our state of mind would have a big impact on what we thought of the place. Equally you only scratch the surface of any place on a visit like this, it would be amazing to spend more time in a place like Addis, in this lifetime or another…

Are there any particular techniques, experiences or other wisdom gained in Ethiopia that you have been able to use in your work afterwards?

I’ve probably carried the feeling of my visit to Ethiopia into everything I’ve done since. My rhythmic contributions to the album I produced for Bobby Womack with Damon Albarn were definitely influenced by things I learned in Ethiopia… not neccesarily in an overt way, but you can’t not be influenced by visiting somewhere as special as Ethiopia. I’d encourage any musician but especially anyone who is interested in rhythms to visit Ethiopia, because you end up learning so much, just by being there.

I picked up on a gentle spirit in Ethiopia, a sort of female spirit… strong, but gentle. Thats a great spirit for creativity… you have to be rugged to be a musician or producer, but you also have to be very sensitive, very open. We listened to some singers in a church in Harar who had many of us in tears, just the sheer beauty and power of the sounds they were making. I felt privileged to have witnessed that, and I’m grateful to have had the experience. And hopefully through trips like these we get to encourage the dialogue between African and Western musicians, its a gradual thing…


Jul 17, 2015

Future Sound of Mzansi

20 years into it’s democracy, Future Sounds of Mzansi, is a documentary which aims to explore, express, and interrogating South Africa’s cultural landscape. A chief vehicle of this exploration is electronic music, a staple of South African popular culture.

It features an exciting range of emerging electronic music artists from various SA cities including Aero Manyelo; Black Coffee; Christian Tiger School; Felix Laband; John Wizards; Krushed & Sorted; Machepies; Markus Wormstorm; Mix & Blend; DJ Mujava; Naked Boys; Nozinja; Okmalumkoolkat; Panyaza; Rude Boys; Sibot; Spoek Mathambo; DJ Spoko; Zaki Ibrahim and many more.

We traveled around South Africa to explore our rich electronic music scene. For years there’s been a strong movement of producers, instrumentalists, vocalists and most importantly, party goers, giving themselves to new ideas of African electronic music.

We have seen a couple of generations unafraid to be proudly South African,proudly party rocking, proudly futuristic, international stake raisers, and hell raisers. The future looks awesome, blindingly beautiful and bursting at the seams with youth energy and talent.
Still a country steeped in poverty, crime, and injustice, we party like our lives depend on it. From the sounds of deep house to glitch hop, kwaito-house, township tech, sghubu sapitori; durban qhum, daintly melodic electronica to dubstep; super fast khawuleza and shangaan electro. The groove is thick and infectious. And we give ourselves to it.

Our mission was simple, to meet up with some of our heroes, colleagues, competition, and co-conspirators…an ever potent gang of electronic music pioneers sculpting The Future Sound of Mzansi.


Jul 15, 2015

Jake Sollo ‎– Jake Sollo

Jake Sollo (Nee Nkem Okonkwo) started his career in the 1960s with The Hykkers, a "beat" group formed at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. After they disbanded Sollo subsequently joined the Aba-based Funkees. By 1976, with creative and personal tensions The Funkees slowly disintegrating, Sollo was offered the golden opportunity to play a year with the creme de la creme of Afro-rock groups, Osibisa.

Around the 1980s Jake Sollo made his career as producer, mostly at Tabansi/Taretone and spawned various artists as Felix Lebarty, Veno and Esbee Family, traveled to London and recorded various great solo Lp's.

Sadly, Jake Sollo died way to young in a car accident in 1985.


You can find a hell of information about Jake Sollo @ amazing combandrazor.blogspot.com!


Father Time Mother Nature
Say No More
Show Me How
Weebo-Me Weebo
Pas Du Tout
Five O Five
African Gypsy

Jul 13, 2015

From Tanzania: Mafumu Bilali Bombenga & AfroBeats Band

AS a young boy growing up in Kigoma Region, he looked up to Verkys Kiamangwana Mateta, one of the most influential figures in the history of Congolese music.

He idolized the Congolese music maestro, who developed his own honking, gut-bucket style of saxophone playing, which characterized most of the exciting music of the 1960s and 1970s.

Bombenga has featured for a number of bands, but scores of music fans still associate him with Dar International band, one of the groups that took the Tanzanian music scene by storm in the early 1980s After doing rounds in many other groups, including Kilimanjaro band, the multi-talented musician decided to form his own group, African Beats band.

That is Mafumu Bilali Bombenga for you. 'Super Sax', as he is fondly referred to by his adoring fans, is one of only a handful of local musicians who have managed to emblazon Tanzania's name in the world of music.


Jul 11, 2015

From The Netherlands: Atanga Boom - Atanga Boom

Atanga Boom was formed in Spring 2012 and immediately made a splash on the Dutch scene, performing on numerous festivals and clubs, including the annual Felabration Festival, the biggest afrobeat event in Europe.

Atanga Boom is a small collective featuring the Netherlands most passionate groove-addicts with members from bands Monsieur Dubois, Bernie’s Lounge and The Shuffle Demons.

The combination of an irresistible rhythm section, hook-laden guitar/keys duo and heavy horns of tuba and bari-sax, makes Atanga Boom the ultimate poly-flexible groove machine.



We're Atanga Boom, a fresh new band pulsing with Afrogrooves, funk, and jazz.
Our original mix combines the organic sound of tuba and baritone sax with the spacejazz effect of guitar and keyboards and a witches brew of drums and percussion.

We've performed in clubs and festivals for more than a year, all the while developing our tracks in the studio and now the time is ripe to bring out our first cd. We've recorded twelve dynamite tracks and we're well on our way but we need your help to press the disks, get the artwork printed, and promote the cd.

Your donation to will help us materialise this terrific project. Naturally you won't be left empty-handed. Below you can read about how we'll reward your support. This can range from receiving a cd (before it reaches the store shelves) or getting a unique recording of your favourite tune played on the tuba! On March 20 2015 we'll be launching our cd release in Paradiso and we extend to you a heartfelt welcome!


Jul 8, 2015

Sunlightsquare - King Yoruba

The eagerly awaited Sunlightsquare album 'King Yoruba' is finally here. And it's well worth the wait.
The rule-breaker, tastemaker and trendsetter Claudio Passavanti (the mastermind behind Sunlightsquare) is back, with his usual style, panache and grace.

Recorded in both Havana and London, 'King Yoruba' features the sophisticated and unique vocal styling of Cuban Javier Valera on the fantastic 'Afro Boogie Super Hombre'.

The album's HUGE and exciting brass intricacies are coupled with skilful percussion and the production values that you have come to expect from Sunlightsquare. You will also find a couple of Sunlightsquare reworks of classic songs. You know the ones, the ones you should NEVER cover.

Yet, once again Claudio Passavanti has completely rewritten the rulebook and reworked the Earth, Wind & Fire classic 'Fantasy'. Fantastically produced with amazing and exciting breakdowns that even Earth, Wind & Fire would be proud of. 'Fantasy' features vocals from London Soul and RnB vocalist Kevin Mark Trail and Cuban Toni Rodriguez.

You will have also heard 'Breakin' Down (Sugar Samba) - Dale Ma!' A Latin infused Sunlightsquare rework of the Julia & Company song from 1983, which features voice of Rene Alvarez and could be heard everywhere this year in the Nick Frost and Chris O'Dowd movie 'Cuban Fury'.

This is not the first time Sunlightsquare have broken all rules, and it will not be the last. In March 2010, Sunlightsquare released the highly successful and critically acclaimed Jackson Sisters cover version of 'I Believe In Miracles' and turned it on its head. Therefore fans know what to expect from Signor Passavanti.

Look out for 'Caleidoscopico' too. The fusion of horns, flute, percussion, 70s funk and jazz is sublime.

The Latin-American and Afro-Caribbean influences are here for all to see and experience, a truly eclectic venture 'King Yoruba' will take you to places you never thought possible.

Jul 7, 2015

"Simigwa" by Gyedu-Blay Ambolley


Gyedu-Blay Ambolley was born in the port city of Sekondi-Takoradi. The multi-talented and internationally celebrated musician has decades or experience under his belt. He is a versatile and irrepressible singer/songwriter/producer, who is credited by some to be the originator of afro rap. He exploded on the music scene with a jazzy highlife sounds called Simigwa-Do. 

His interest in music dates back to age eight, when he began playing with his father's flute until he was able to teach himself how to play. His formal musical training came at the age of fourteen. The young music enthusiast continued to learn the rudiments of music from the late Sammy Lartey and Ebo Taylor. 

Ambolley spent a great part of his day listening to records of musicians living in the United States. He contributes his free style of singing to such mentors as James Brown, Ray Charles, and Sam Cook. During the sixties, the young aspiring musician was excitingly impressed with the music her heard on the popular radio show, "Voice of America Jazz Hour. 

His name has become synonymous with Simigwa music and dance since his first hit single was released in 1973. Since that hit, he has lead many bands including his own in 1979-80. His talent was not limited to Ghana; he was invited to London where he performed to ‘standing room only’ crowds. Having experienced success in his own country, as well as London, it was time for the ambitious musician to test his musical abilities elsewhere. In 1988, Ambolley left Ghana for New York. 

Ambolley has toured throughout West Africa, Europe, Canada, and the United States. He has performed on the same stage with some of the worlds most celebrated artists, such as Miriam Makeba, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, George Howard, Angela Bofill, Norman Connors, Manu DeBango, Lakeside, Chikuzan Takahashi, Ricardo Estrada of Cuba, Mayuto Correa of Brazil. He also toured Ghana with Oscar Brashear and Michael Session. Because of his originality, his performances have left audiences raving and shouting for more, as was the case at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. He has played the House of Blues in Hollywood, is a frequent performer at the Jazz Bakery in California and has played to "standing room only" crowds in London, England.
Ambolley has over 17 albums to his credit and has received numerous musical awards. In October of 2003 he was prestigiously recognized for his commitment to his musical craft with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" by Jazz at Drew from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles. Additionally he received a Congressional, Gubernatorial Certificate of Special Recognition by Congresswoman Juanita Millinder McDonald. Also L.A.Weekly nominated Ambolley for Best World Beat Recombinant Artists in 2003. 

In 2007, he released a 14 track album, The Next Generation, after a 17 year hiatus. It featured remixes of his old hits as well as some new songs. He has been crowned Simigwahene by the Omanhene of Esekado Traditional Area, Nana Kwabena Nketia.



This record doesn't need much of an introduction. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley's debut record is one of the most iconic albums of the entire Ghanaian discography and also boasts one of the coolest cover designs I have ever seen. If you want to get into Ghana Funk, there's simply no way around this record. Well, this one and of course the mighty This Is Marijata.

Simigwa was a relative big seller back in 1975 but you would be surprised how hard it is to track down a playable copy in today's Ghana. People played the daylights out of this album. Put it on and you'll understand immediately. This record is an instant party: Just add a few friends and some libations and good times will ensue. It's a law of nature. At the end of side 2 you'll just flip it over without even thinking about it. If you don't want to have to worry about wearing out your only copy, be wise and order two. This baby is limited to 1.500 copies so be quick. Get them from the source: LP/CD. The CD comes with a 12" poster with the original cover design because we know you can't wait to show this off on your wall.

The album was mastered from the original master tapes and licensed from Essiebons Records. More often than not, the studio tapes were overdubbed or destroyed but in this case you get the highest possible fidelity for your maximum enjoyment.



Gyedu-Blay Ambolley is one of the key artists in the development of West African popular music. His 1985 album Cut Your Coat is widely regarded as the first example of Ghanaian rap and marks the birth of the now-dominant hiplife style. Before that, he was a central figure in the Afro-funk revolution of the 1970’s that brought the influence of James Brown and other American R&B artists into African music. Here’s the first-ever authorized reissue of a complete Ambolley album (he’s on many African compilations and plenty of bootlegs as well), and it’s a stone classic – six songs, 31 minutes, all killer and no filler. This was a very popular album in its day; the original is highly collectible not because of scarcity but because most copies are just worn out. Frank Gossner (Voodoo Funk blog, Lagos Disco Inferno) managed to locate and license the master tapes. Now you can put this one on the shelf right next to Fela, Geraldo Pino, Super Etoile, Ernesto Djedje, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo -- that would be the “absolute best of West African 70’s” shelf. Bonus attraction – some of the most inexplicable liner notes of all time (from the original, of course). Play often!


A1 Kwaakwaa 5:19
A2 Akoko Ba 5:23
A3 This Hustling World 4:14
B1 Toffie 6:49
B2 Adwoa 4:08
B3 Fa No Dem Ara 4:33

Jul 6, 2015

"Sekunde" by Gyedu Blay Ambolley

A great new album from this 70s Afro Funk legend – work that shows that Gydeu Blay Ambolley hasn't lost a bit of his groove over the years! There's a really great approach to the album that keeps things fresh – a sound that's lean and stripped-down, and not overproduced at all – creating a vibe that almost makes you think the record came from some Ghanian studio in the 70s! Gyedu Blay handles lead vocals and tenor, and the set features loads of tight percussion that bubbles along beautifully in an Afro Funk groove – plus tight horns on the top, and a bit of fuzzy guitar to give things a nice edge. Lyrics are nice and sharp, and titles include "Afrika Yie", "Game", "Bad Bad Boy", "Blakk Man Dey Suffer", "E Dey Walk For Ground", "Viktims", and "O Maame O Papa.


Jul 3, 2015

Thoughts on Fela ...

Jul 2, 2015

Hip Hop In South Africa

Amazingly written and published 

South Africa's history is steeped in the politics of apartheid, struggle and survival. For decades it was common for public gatherings to be dispersed violently, as witnessed by the Sharpeville massacre of 1969, the student uprising of 1976 and numerous other public protests. When speaking about hip-hop in South Africa, it is important to consider this back-story of suffering and overcoming adversity, as it was against this backdrop of apartheid that hip-hop gained its foothold in South Africa.

The Roots of South African Hip-Hop (80s-90s)

Perhaps the most definitive act in South African hip-hop and the group largely credited as forerunners of the movement were Prophets Of The City (POC), formed in Cape Town in the late 1980s. Founding member DJ Ready D recalled those early years in the documentary FedeFokol: 25 Years of South African Hip Hop: “I was your typical Cape Flats kid, running around and doing what Cape Flats boys do. I didn’t really think I would assume the role of an activist within our communities or through music.”

POC released their first album, Our World, in 1990. Today they are credited as the first hip-hop crew in South Africa to record and release an album. Led by the inimitable voice of Shaheen Ariefdeen on raps, POC would carry on carving a niche for themselves on the South African hip-hop landscape, performing overseas in the 90s as well as at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.

Around the same time, another hip-hop crew with a similar vision arose from the Cape Flats. Led by the dynamic rap talents of Emile XY, Black Noise would go on to carve their own path in South African hip-hop, despite changing their lineup as time went on. Formed in 1988, the group soon found a loyal following in Cape Town and Joburg. In 1992 they signed to the label Tusk (the local subsidiary of Warner Elektra Atlantic) and released their debut album Pumpin’ Loose Da Juice!. Emile has been the mainstay of the group, going on to champion events such as the annual African Hip Hop Indaba, which showcases the different elements of hip-hop (breakdancing, graffiti, MCing, DJing) over three days.

Importantly, political consciousness was always at the centre of their vision. Adam Haupt, Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, sums up this early period of South African hip-hop in his book, Stealing Empire: “Like POC, Black Noise has always aligned itself with black consciousness thinking, hence the crew's consistent reference to black – as opposed to coloured – identity. This, in part, is what the term 'conscious' hip-hop indicates, but it also alludes to the idea of raising critical consciousness via hip-hop as a lifestyle, philosophy or art form. It is in this area that POC and Black Noise have been active.”

Popular discourse around South African hip-hop typically centres on the overarching influence of POC and Black Noise. While these crews – cultural movements in their own right – deserve their place in history, it is important to not overlook other regions in South Africa which served an equally important role in raising awareness about hip-hop culture, such as Def Boyz in the Eastern Cape, whose grassroots initiatives continue to reverberate through small communities and inspire a new legion of rappers. One of the founders, Xolile Madinda, is involved in literacy projects and community debates to uplift his community.

In Johannesburg, hip-hop took centre stage at Le Club, a mecca of sorts (similar to The Base and Club Fame in Cape Town) where the current cream of South African hip-hop cut its teeth. Founded by DJs Bionic and Blaze, Le Club's centrality to the scene cannot be over-emphasised. Vouks, a legendary breakdancer who is still active on the scene, had this to say about the significance of the club, which has since been converted into a clothing store: “I would call it the hip-hop hub for all youngsters, your top MCs and your underground MCs. This is where the cyphers and the B-boys and everything went down every single weekend.”

Other musicians experimented with hip-hop during the 1980s and early 90s, long before it entered the mainstream. As early as 1984, the late bassist Sipho Gumede was dabbling in hip-hop as The Boogie Man, rapping in isiZulu on tracks such as ‘Jika Jika’. Senyaka had a hit in the late 80s with ‘Go Away’, a song that bridges the gap between 80s bubblegum/disco, hip-hop and the kwaito genre that would dominate the local music industry in the 1990s. Rapper Taps released albums such as Let’s Go (1990) and Young Hip And African (1991). Natano Braché rose to prominence in Cape Town as a club and radio DJ going by the name DJ Natdog. His maxi-single ‘B-boys’ was released in 1990. I.N.T.R.I.B.E, a group from Johannesburg, released Bubblegum In My Afro in 1992. Their name stood for Intelligent Natives Teaching Revolutionary Intellectual Black Education, a nod to movements like Public Enemy and the Jungle Brothers, as well as POC and Black Noise, whose music carried a message of self-awareness.

An important factor in the rise of hip-hop in South Africa is the emergence of YFM, the Gauteng-based regional radio station which launched towards the end of 1997. The Sprite Rap Activity Jam, an hour-long weekly segment co-hosted by Kalawa Jazmee co-founder DJ Oskido and Rudeboy Paul, heralded another phase for the evolution of hip-hop. Suddenly rappers had an attentive audience who would listen to their music. However, for the latter part of the 90s, hip-hop did not manage to make a dent on the broader South African music industry. Kwaito had taken a strong footing, followed closely by house music (which eventually overtook it in the early 2000s). As a result, hip-hop in South Africa was sidelined for long time. In retrospect, this allowed the movement to re-organise itself and establish its identity.

The Rise of Hip-Hop (2000s)

Picking up from where Cape Flats pioneers POC and Black Noize left off, Brasse Vannie Kaap (BVK) were one of the leading hip-hop crews in the country during the late 1990s, releasing albums like BVK (1997), Yskoud (2000), Super Power (2004) and Ysterbek (2006) and frequently representing the country overseas. Their use of Afrikaans and Flats slang set the trend for South African rappers to shed the genre’s American influences and start rapping in local vernacular languages, and in doing so forge a uniquely South African sound. BVK’s brand of socially-conscious hip-hop addressed issues from the downtrodden communities of the Cape Flats. They kept all elements of the hip-hop culture alive, performing with B-boys, a DJ and an MC, with their imagery heavily steeped in graffiti culture. Along with other grassroots movements – Red Antz in the Eastern Cape, for example – their focus was less about commercial success and more focused towards community development.

In the rest of the country, hip-hop gained momentum towards the end of 2002. There was a sense that something big was about to happen, something that would transcend the bedroom where rappers used to record and release music independently. Skwatta Kamp, once a 12-member crew that had been trimmed down to six individuals by the time their album Khut En Joyn received a SAMA award in 2003, set a blueprint for how to succeed as a hip-hop artist in South Africa. One of the group’s members, Siyabonga Metane (alias Slikour), spoke on the reasons behind their decision to do everything independently: “Recording companies weren’t signing so we became the recording company. There wasn’t any deep thinking to it at the time, but in retrospect we were ahead of our time.”

Elsewhere on the South African rap radar, artists began releasing projects which would go a long way in changing public sentiment towards the genre. Amu, another pioneer, collaborated on songs and did live shows with kwaito star Zola. His debut album, The Rap, Life and Drama (2003), received mixed reviews from listeners still steeped in the traditional ‘boom bap’ rap. Tumi Molekane linked up with two members from 340ml and a bassist with a background in funk to create Tumi and the Volume. Their Live At The Bassline (2004) garnered a legion of followers and kickstarted the career of what it still South Africa’s most recognizable live hip-hop band.

Mixtapes and compilation albums found their way onto the market, most notably Outrageous Records’ Maximum Sentence and Expressions offerings. While the former catered for hardcore hip-hop heads, the latter featured a more varied set of songs. The music was less brash, and the list of collaborators – from Skwatta Kamp to Zubz and Neo Muyanga – accurately captured the mood of that era.

Television also help spread hip-hop to a mass audience. The late Mr. Fat from BVK hosted Hip-Hop on the now defunct channel MK, while rapper Proverb also had a stint hosting Nasty on the continent-wide Channel O. Between 2004 and 2006, rap in South Africa was in a healthy state. Skwatta Kamp’s breakthrough album, following quickly by Mkhukhu Funkshen’ (2003) and Washmkhukhu (2004) enjoyed combined sales of around 100 000 copies. Pitch Black Afro was the first rapper to go platinum with Styling Gel (2004). Corporate brands started showing interest in the culture and a new generation of hip-hop artists began to emerge.

Current and Future Trends

As South African hip-hop established itself, numerous sub-genres and scenes emerged. Motswako originates from Mmabatho in the North West province, the former capital of the apartheid homeland of Bophuthatswana. Stoan of the group Bongo Muffin was the first one to publicise rapping in Motswako during the mid-90s. Around the same time, groups such as Baphixhile and Crowded Crew emerged – all from roughly the same area and representing new sound called Motswako. It’s not clear who coined the term – ‘motswako’ is Setswana for mixture, implying that the sub-genre is a mixture of many musical styles. While Stoan pre-empted the arrival of Motswako, rapper HHP embodied the lifestyle and gave it its own style. He dressed it up and made it a movement, inviting artists such as Tuks, Mo’lemi and Morafe to fortify it. Currently, a new wave of Motswako rappers is emerging, influenced by the ideologies of the forerunners. Artists such as Cassper Nyovest are cultivating a solid mainstream profile while touring relentlessly throughout the country.

While Motswako is dominated by the Setswana language, kasi rap is dominated by the Nguni languages of isiZulu and isiXhosa. The themes of kasi (township) rap revolve around hardships, family and the desire to ‘make it’ - to aspire to something else other than the desperation which surrounds them. Pro (formerly Pro Kid) is the figurehead of the scene. His second album, Heads And Tails (2005), released on the influential independent label TS Records, solidified his standing as the champion of kasi rap. In the Western and Eastern Cape, kasi rap becomes spaza (meaning tuckshop), although the same themes are addressed. Driemanskap is the most prominent act on the scene, while other notable kasi/spaza artists include Maxhoseni, Kanyi, Red Button, Manelisi and Deep Soweto.
The Cape Flats and the greater Western Cape also have a burgeoning Afrikaans rap scene. Influenced by the brazenness of BVK, the philosophy of POC and the image of Black Noise, artists such as Jitsvinger, Cream and Jaak are breathing new life into Cape hip-hop. Also using Afrikaans in their lyrics is one of the most recognisable musical exports of the past few years: Die Antwoord, a rap-rave outfit consisting of Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er. Ninja is the alter ego of Watkin Tudor Jones Jr., who honed his skills with hip-hop acts The Original Evergreen in the 90s and Max Normal in the early 2000s before deciding to take a new direction, adopting a uniquely South African sense of style called ‘zef’, long associated with working class Afrikaners, and drawing on aspects of Cape Flats culture. Vi$$er describes zef as ‘being poor yet fancy; being poor yet stylish’. Afrikaans rapper Jack Parow is another noteworthy rapper in this genre.

Also worth mentioning are the young artists who may not be directly associated with hip-hop but who apply a hip-hop aesthetic to their music. These include Toya DeLazy, Spoek Mathambo, Dirty Paraffin, Big FKN Gun and others, many of whom are now making waves overseas. Most of them started out as artists either aligned with rap artists, or as hip-hop artists themselves. Between 2007 and 2011, this new wave started making further inroads into the mainstream. Brand relationships were solidified, allowing artists to earn extra income from endorsement deals. Large-scale rap-oriented shows became common and mainstream radio finally bought into a culture which had been seeking acceptance for decades. Hip-hop in South Africa, after some 25 years, has well and truly arrived.

2012 saw the launch of the annual South African Hip Hop Awards. Khuli Chana is currently one of the biggest rappers in the country. His album Lost In Time earned him three South African Music Awards in 2013, including the coveted Artist Of The Year award. In 2014, hip-hop is in a healthy state. Johannesburg still drives the music industry in terms of both the media and record companies. The coming years should be interesting in terms of decentralising the movement. Cape Town is making fresh and exciting new hip-hop, but other regions still lag behind when it comes to making a wide-scale impact.

 Amazingly written and published 
 @ musicinafrica.net