Their rendition of our National anthem Nkosi Sikelele’ iAfrica, performed at the South African Music Awards in 1998, was seen as controversial, but looking at that performance two decades on, Boom Shaka were just misunderstood and ahead of their time.
The ground-breaking ensemble was made-up of Lebo Mathosa, Theo Nhlengethwa, Thembi Seete and Junior Sokhela. The group got on the scene in 1993 with their classic It’s About Time, which too was ahead of its time, and went on to be trailblazers on the African continent as well as the world. They went on to release five albums which had influences of Hip Hop, Reggae, House and Pop Music.
Their Nkosi Sikelele’ iAfrica performance wasn’t their only controversy. They were provocative in how they dressed and even danced but they weren’t Zodwa Wabantuing nor Skolpading the game. They represented the youth of South Africa through their unhinged freedom of expressing truly who they are. They’re style, was so distinctive and unique. They’ve influenced artists here in South Africa and other parts of the world. R&B Nigerian American duo, VanJess has the Boom Shaka make-up with their hair, songs and overall feel.
Led by the suave and infectious voice of Lebo, Boom Shaka clutched your attention yet simultaneously giving you all the liberty to dance, however you want. Lebo rightfully led the quartet, but they all complimented each other- whether it was Junior’s raspy voice, Thembi’s sweet girl verses or Theo’s falsetto, they together made us love Boom Shaka.
You could fault them for popularizing the term ‘Kwere kwere’ through their song with the same tittle, but the song was actually speaking out against xenophobia way before Somalian foreigners established their sea of tuck shops across the country . But they sang and depicted what was happening on the streets. They were artists. They’re beat selection was the envy of many. They could rip apart a Mid-tempo beat, with the same ferocity they would a generic Kwatio or Hip Hop beat.
One always ponders on how things would have turned out for them as a group had Lebo not unfortunately died in that car accident in 2006.
They might never release another project ever again, but what they gave us will last a lifetime. Here are just five of their classics.
1.It’s About Time