Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where did Kwaito go?

Remember the good old days, when TKZee used to start and end the party....when Mandoza's Nkalakatha was the song to be played? Ahhh infact, I visited my old high school a few months ago, and found them still playing the good old kwaito beats lebesi jam-ma ngawo back in the day! Then again, the UWC is a whole new environment. They'll stay playing Mandoza and Tribal Blast. But as I joined in with kids from over 100 countries, watching as the sweet Lebanese girl and the chemistry geek from Uganda tried their luck at doing the "kwaito dances" that I once went crazy for, I could only wonder...Where did Kwaito go?

Its been about...emm...7 years since I finished high school in Manzini, Swaziland...All-girl Anglican school. No nonsense, don't-mess teachers and matrons. Best results in the country (may I boast a lil, dust my shoulders a lil?)...One thing St Michaels girls were known for...well, actually 3. Beauty (check), brains (check) and dancing (um, working on it to be dishonest). Do not even mess, besiba bontsa! We had school concerts, where students danced, performed skits, plays and had fashion shows...Ours was always the last. Of course ke, it was the grand finale. We danced to the likes of Boom Shaka, Mandoza, TKZee, Trompies, Mdu, E'smile, and that group....var vas jy....where were u! We even had the hair styles, I remember my first Boom Shaka braids, thick, black and long to the waist. Was I not feeling myself?? And then, of course, I had to borrow the "tsotsi" hat ('idori') and colorful all stars from my brothers closet. Well, by borrow, i mean steal and return before dark. They were the rockas...Trompies' "Sweety Lavo" was the anthem of all who had boyfriends. I remember mine coming early for the concert to make sure he got good seats and enjoyed a little "private moment" with me (Private means 'in disguise" from our nasty headmaster -- thats when the back of the hall was populated by lovebirds and the like). To top it off, I'd get a letter slipped into my bag with Sweety Lavo lyrics dedicated to me.

Kwaito was the thing of the season...Every festive holiday, a new "X mas" jam would hit the streets and no party would end without it being played. It went from TKZees Dlala Mapantsula (in fact that whole album was the rockas), to Nkalakatha, to Mazola. Mind u, each one came with a different dance...I remember them all! But I can't dance them all anymore. Will I not be the odd one out? It seems as though House is the new Kwaito and Afro-pop is the new R'nB. Well, House has always been there, the likes of DJ Fresh, DJ Glen Lewis, Africanism etc...but (correct me if I'm wrong), they never really enjoyed the mass air play that Kwaito did. And in fact, they seemed to be played at parties exclusively, in moderation...and as a "listen to this beat and go crazy for the next Kwaito song" type scenario. Ive always loved house, I feel the quality has improved, owing to the many new good DJs in the area. (Oo...remember, Benni's in the 18 area! TkZee in the area! Bafana in the area! Halakasha!...Shibobo...let me not crash my train of thought). I can't go a day now without listening to DJ Cleo, Sbu (Remember when it rained won best song at this years SAMAs) and others. I feel it is this overtake in popularity that has diminished the Kwaito scene and brought House to clubs, parties and personal stereos with a loud bang mfethu!

Afro-pop is another great genre. The thing to hear now is Malaika, Mafikizolo, Mina Nawe, Ntando, Tyte and lots more. I mean umaBrrr (Brenda Fassie, RIP), Yvonne Chaka Chaka and other legends have always been there, but there's been this sudden boom in the Afro-pop industry and the current artists are definitely loving it! I personally am a big fan of Afro-pop. Nothing says I love you better than Malaika and no one will ever describe how beautiful an African woman is -- as well as Ringo Madlingozi does. I'd rather be told "Ubuhle bakho ntombi...Amehlo akho sthandwa sam!" than "Sexy love...girl the things u do keep me sprung (and so?), keep me running back to you (where did u go to begin with?)". Infact, one thing I've always loved about parties and clubs in
South Africa and Swaziland is they play House and Afro-pop primarily. And so, after being bombarded with hip hop and dancehall for a year (with the occasional African get-together with Makossa, Highlife, and other African genres), it's a breath of fresh air to go back home and know that African music is being played by default. You'll find hip hop clubs, reggae nights etc in SA but most people definitely enjoy the music from home.

I guess, Kwaito is still around in a way...House seems to be more of a merge between rave and kwaito beats, and Afro-pop still gets alot of its influence from traditional Kwaito music. And of course, we still have geniuses like Kabelo and Zola that will remind us of how it was done back in the day...Mandoza, Arthur and Mdu are also still in the scene. Hehe, Arthur's song "Sika Lekhekhe" has even been banned from the media because of its questionable connotations of sex and women. Do trust. He's the same one who came out with "Do u like my Zombo". Nuff said. Thembi Seete of Boom Shaka, I believe is still doing her thing, and it's sad Lebo (also of Boom Shaka fame) passed away this year in a tragic accident. And well, we have bo Mzambiya, Mzekezeke and other upcoming artists who get a lot of backing from older stars. Kwaito neva dies!!

Go to Museke to listen to some great Kwaito and Afro-pop, as well as find lyrics, blogs and news about African music! ~

Sika Lekhekhe Vid : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkSwGBgDXQg