Afro Punk

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Dance music’s purity of purpose is something to be admired. There is no confusion about its reason for being, no ostentation. It exist to get bodies rhythmically moving to its high tempo and hypnotic groove as it mesmerizes the psyche into ecstasy and synchronizes  our heart beats to its energetic bop. Which feels like freedom to the soul.

Muzi’s music also feels like freedom. Freedom from the negativity that clouds one’s perspective of the future, living in the Southern tip of Africa in the early 21st century. My first encounter with this urban Zulu’s music was after he electrified the crowd at the South African leg of the culture-vulturing Afro Punk festival in the new year of 2019 in Joburg.

I promptly went through his second album AFROViSiON after that related experience and then the album became a mainstay in my playlist to life.

AFROViSiON was implicitly an album about his struggles, laced with dance grooves which primarily employed catchy percussive progressions on attention grabbing synthetic chords and pads. What made the project unique was Muzi’s vocal texture, content and Zulufied model C cadence, which appealed to both the snotnose-Braamfontien arty coconut and the dusty Carvela-wearing mahlalela in Tembisa.

Crossover appeal is highly valued in the music industry, but usually limited to racial lines. In my not-so humble opinion, music that crosses over economic class is of a higher value, which is what Muzi’s music does so beautifully.

In his third offering, titled Zeno, Muzi maintains his masterful skills as a dance producer but in his lyrics one gets the distinct impression that the struggle is over.

Zeno tracklist. Photo by MUZI
Zeno tracklist. Photo by MUZI

In the Amapiano influenced pseudo love song Sondela, he drops a braggadocios mack on a shorty, making it clear that he is not intimidated by her social status or looks

Bangitshela ukuthi ungumpetha sondela ntombi

They tell me you are the shit girl!

I don’t give a fuck, come closer so we can get together.

A very loose translation…

Big boy now with the big dreams,

I see you in it, that’s a big dream…

Vans all day, I bet you know that.

I’m gonna be big, I bet you know that…

I Love how this dude exudes confidence through his music without coming across as arrogant or fake-humble. On Ngeke with Zithulele of BCUC, he attempts an acapella Zulu folk song, where urban ninjas are warned to rather step into the fighting circle to prove themselves as men. Instead of prancing around like peacocks thinking that they are better than the rest of the homies in a rural homestead, because that kind of behaviour could possibly lead to their families having to dress in black attire for a year mourning the death of their beloved son. That joint fills me up with a nostalgic yearning for my initiation ceremony where bitchass niggerisms were not tolerated, and heavy doses of toxic masculinity were indoctrinated into the impressionable minds of young men.

My favourite cut in the project has to be the more sombre Sunshine in which he relates his feelings about some sort of traumatic event that occurred in his life.

…Hoping all my blessing don’t go away,

I’m hoping the sun shines on me…

Ngisaba noku bheka isibuko, strangers in my room,

They didn’t take my life,

But it feels like I died that night,

Pushing away those I love,

Angazi kwenze njani,

but it feels like I died that night…

I strongly suspect that the ninja was a victim of crime as it is so often the case in South Africa. The feelings that arise from such an event are undoubtedly serious and persistent but what does not kill you should only make you stronger. Life in the concrete jungle follows the same as of nature. Only the strong survive.

In Untitled 45 and Nguni Landing any misgivings about Muzi’s ability to produce house music in the purest form without vocals, but just ‘head-banging-while-your-tongue-is sticking-out’ beats on dope melodies. In the easily accessible Mncane he features Samthing Soweto with no vocal input from Muzi. I feel if he can get the video out for this joint it will raise the album’s buzz to new levels.

This is an excellent album, listen to it if you consider yourself a music lover, if not. Then why bother reading this shit anyway?

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SOUTH AFRICA’S currently the world’s biggest fad, based on the number of international guests coming to our shores this season. One of the world’s coolest parties, Everyday People, is to be hosted down South on the motherland.

“I firmly believe that SA is one of the most popular trends in the world right now based on how much interest I have seen in the music and culture while touring overseas,” says Kool Out Creative Director, Akio Kawahito. Kool Out, together with Feel Good Series and Nescafé will be Everyday People‘s South African partners for the two events which will be hosted in Joburg and Cape Town next weekend.

“Everyone is looking to Africa right now and in particular South Africa. I definitely believe that Everyday People is getting a jump on everyone else and will further cement SA’s rep overseas as a destination spot.” Akio says.

The Delicious Festival takes place this weekend and is headlined by international songstress Erykah Badu and Jordan Rakei. While a number of international jazz kats will grace the Joy of Jazz stage later this month, including vocalist Bilal, events such as the Global Citizen and Afro Punk are also concerts stuffed with overseas artists. All these grow the notion that Mzansi is the place to be, this warm season.

But DJ Akio says Everyday People‘s decision to launch their growing brand on the African continent was organic more than anything. “I have a friend in New York City who is close with the Everyday People squad and they had expressed interest in wanting to expand to South Africa. She recommended partnering with Kool Out so we setup a meeting while I was in New York and came up with a plan to launch in the Spring and do an all-out bash in December. We assisted Nescafé with their International Coffee Day initiative last year so they hit us up again for this year. We presented Everyday People to them and they loved the concept and decided to make it part of this year’s initiative.”

What’s distinct about Everyday People is that it’s an all-black party which takes place during the day. The monthly parties started out in New York City and then branched out to other cities such as Miami and Los Angeles- as much as all their shows make one feel like they’re on the African continent, this will be its first time on the motherland.  “We’re really trying to emphasise the daytime element and hope it works out that way. At the same time, you know how South Africans love to show up late. It’s the first time we’re doing it here so we’ll see how it goes and make adjustments for the next ones,” says Akio.

The Everyday People event in December event will be an alternative for those who’ve grown a sense of dissatisfaction with Afro Punk, which will be in the country for the second time this year. Next week’s shows in Cape Town and Joburg will be launches, hence the line-ups only have Disk Jocks.

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AFRO Punk released the line-up for this year instalment of the festival, to a mixed reaction from South Africans who have a couple of names they also would like to add to the bill.

The three day festival returns after it made its debut on the mother land last year in Joburg. This year’s AP will be headlined by The Internet, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada, Thandiswa Mazwai, Thundercat and iconic rap clique Public Enemy. More artists will be announced as we get closer to the festival.

“The Internet, Kaytranada and Thundercat is reason enough for me to go…but my expectations were very high,” said Psykaytic Ròes on Facebook. While Thabang Magodielo said she was expecting singing sensation H.E.R, Solange, SZA and Tom Misch, but was happy with some of the artists on the line-up.

The Internet, who recently released their critically acclaimed album Hive Mind will be in Joburg this year

Last year’s AP took a huge knock, when headline act Solange said she wouldn’t make it to South Africa for the festival due to health reasons. AP organisers together with Solange then promised to have the Don’t Touch My Hair singer for this year’s instalment. But dololo Solange.

Moonchild, who has taken the country by storm is also on the line-up. Her name though, brought confusion for some people as they thought it was the international group, not our very own modern Brenda Fassie.  There was an air of disappointment from some people that it’s not the Los Angeles trio on the line-up. “Moonchild Sanelly? Andizi Jonga, Andizi,”said Lesia Obiwan-Kenobi Kalane.

The inclusion of Public Enemy left me a tad puzzled. Although the group last released an album in 2017 (Nothing Is Quick in the Desert), I’m a bit sceptical about the old guys pulling a strong performance.

Public Enemy

I was expecting to see names of Zoë Modiga, Samthing Soweto and at least Ikati Esengxoweni on this year’s line-up.  While The Brother Moves On’s performance last year was one of the stand-outs, having them back wouldn’t have ruined anything.

Other names that excited people were Youngsta CPT, Soweto band BCUC and the younger Mazwai sister, Nomisupasta who was the host at the final of Battle of the Bands final, in Tembisa last year.

People had been eagerly waiting  for this line-up to come out, that early bird tickets were sold out instantly after AP made the announcement.

 

Unlike other brands that come to the country to make a quick buck, AP made a commitment to be in the city for at least five years, so this is just the second episode of AP Joburg and this one promises to be a step-up from last year’s. Hopefully there won’t be any last minute cancellations from the artist’ part, the people would infuriated.


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