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By Kalamu ya Salaam of Kalamu.com

Saturday, January 28, 2012.


Kwaito is a form of South African popular music that represents the generation of the 1990s, the first major post-apartheid musical statement. It has elements of diverse influences as wide-ranging as house music on the one hand and traditional forms associated with the different ethnic and regional groupings of South Africa.

If you’re interested in classic Kwaito the CD to get is Phat Joe Presents 3650 Days Of Kwaito. (Back in May 2006 we at BoL wrote about Kwaito here.)

This week we feature a new Mixtape that revisits and updates classic Kwaito jams.

Tumi, the leader of popular South African band Tumi and the Volume, collaborates with major South African rapper, Zubz as they reinterpret old school Kwaito. I’m a fan of Tumi’s flow and his on point lyrics.

Zubz (born in Zambia, reared in Zimbabwe, and based in South Africa) is one of South Africa’s most popular rappers ever.

Interspersed throughout are snippets of South Africans talking about what Kwaito means to them and how Kwaito affected them when they first heard it.

On his website, Tumi says:

“This is a mixtape Zubz and I did in 3 days. We hadn’t worked togetherthe whole of last yer and that felt unusual for us.

December always makes us think back to the golden era of kwaito and it hit us, do a kwaito mixtape. Our approach was not to over think the process, just do what comes and we set a three day limit for ourselves. Our engineer Instro chopped up the old school kwaito hits and we wrote 3 songs a day. We not trying to ride on anybody’s fame or glory, we just wanted to reintepret some of our favourite kwaito tunes and try and relive those magic moments, but mostimportantly pay homage to the original artists.”

While I’m not a big, big lover of Kwaito I do very much enjoy this outing and wish that more artists would revisit their roots and give a creative take on their sonic origins. As with most mixtapes, Where Were You? was done for the love of the music and is available from Tumi’s website as a free download.

Kalamu ya Salaam is a writer and filmmaker from New Orleans. He is also the founder of Nommo Literary Society - a Black writers’ workshop.

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