Mmino wa ko Mams: Calvin Fallo re-awakens South African kwaito & shows us a different version of black boy joy
Hate it or love it, Pitori (Pretoria) is undoubtedly the home of new age kwaito music in South Africa. Some may argue and say Durban is current of home of kwaito music, but I respectfully disagree. Although Durban kwaito has stylistic elements that could easily allow one to pass it over as kwaito, it carries stylistic elements that are not common in traditional kwaito music – and with that being said, allows us to see it as a sub-genre. However, the music that is coming out of the townships of Pretoria directly pays homage to the kwaito we know as South Africans, from the style of beats, to the cadences and world-play used by the singers. With the only difference being language, but stylistically the music carries the core elements of what makes kwaito what it is.
It may also be limiting to force the kwaito tag on this music, as the people that make and consume this music term it differently. Some may call this music Bacardi music and some may call it, Amapiano – two terms that people often confuse and mix up. The mix ups and confusion are bound to happen as some artists live between both sub-genres. However, as it stands the Amapiano genre seems to be leading in popularity as more and more artists from Pretoria are making this genre of music. Talent from different corners of Pretoria is rising up and taking advantage of the opportunity to deliver something uniquely fresh to the South African music listener. Attredgeville, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa and Mamelodi are the leading townships when it comes to producing Amapiano music.
Artists like Pencil and Zingmaster, DJ Maphorisa and Team Mosha have taken these sounds from Pitori to even bigger heights as the music spreads across South Africa. Those acts can be seen as the ones that are consistent in bringing the sound to the mainstream arena. But there is one act that is increasingly becoming difficult to ignore as his work ethic is undeniably impressive. Mamelodi-based artist, Calvin Fallo, is the next best thing to come out of Pitori. He primarily lives within the dance music realm and is unapologetically a Pretorian, in style and presentation. His music pays homage to traditional South African Kwaito, draws from international dance music culture and has a unique South African story embedded in it. Carefree and focused, he re-awakens South African kwaito and shows us a different version of what black joy is in. The music he makes speaks to the people and communicates his experiences as a young, creative black person. He fuses broken beat, kwaito, traditional African beat and house to create music that is truly unique.
An artist that has independently managed to get his music playlisted on some of the biggest tradional media platforms in South Africa, is one we should champion. He is prepared and ready for the music industry, and clearly has figured out and found his lane in the South African music industry. Through Calvin Fallo’s music, South Africa will get to know what Mamelodi looks like, how the society functions and why Pretoria is important for dance music in South Africa.