Boom Shaka

Clement Gama07/26/2019

YOU hear Bad Boy Records and instantly think New York. The mention of Death Row jogs one’s memory to Los Angeles, California.  But Kalawa Jazmee is synonymous with all townships in all of South Africa. In the 25 years of Nelson Mandela’s democratic South Africa, no record company has been the soundtrack to kasi life as Kalawa Jazmee.

The record company was found through a feud between two stables, Trompies Jazzmee Records and Kalawa Records. The former was co-owned by Spikiri, Mahoota, M’jokes and Bruce while the latter’s owners were Oskido, Don Laka and DJ Christos-who departed in 1995. The dispute was over ownership of Trompies hit song Sigiya Ngengoma.

They’ve gone on to churn out more hit songs as one independent company for more than two decades now, telling stories from the township while making us dance. They’ve introduced and developed a slew of artists like Busiswa, Alaska, Professor, DJ Zinhle, Dr Malinga, Heavy K, Tira, Big Nuz and so many more. It is fitting that this year’s Delicious Festival will honour Kalawa Jazmee’s 25th anniversary.

But if one were to have a Kalawa Jazmee All Stars, many would agree that these five make the starting five.









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



4. Bambanani

5. Ibuhlungu

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