With “Kobayashi uphethe inumba numba, baby labafana amangamanga” as the track’s opening line, you are confronted by unadulterated, uncensored and proudly kasi content. Unapologetic in his creative might, Kobayashi (better known in the South African entertainment streets as Bhubhesii) elegantly carries his Kwaito influences on his back as he resurrects a fallen South African sound. Bhari is the title of the song, heavily reminiscent of a time in the South African entertainment industry where acts like Mandla Spikiri, TKZee, Brown Dash and Mdu were the talks of the town.
I sat with this song for eight months, absorbing and unpacking its genius. Eight months, I sat in my room marveling, or rather listening to this mind-blowing piece of art. At times, I would go on for weeks on end without listening to this song. But somehow, I would find myself searching frantically for this song – the groove and originality – I certainly caught a vibe. It reminded me of someone I once knew, a long lost friend or of somewhere I have been. The song was familiar. Maybe it is because I grew up on Kwaito, a genre that was created by Baby Bloomer youth at the fall of the Apartheid regime, which makes sense because I am a millennial and these Baby Bloomer youths were my heroes. They represent post-apartheid creative expression. To me, they were and will always be the grootman’s, the pioneers who wrote their names in our hearts in hopes to be celebrated in future by generations to come.
Bhari is more than a song to me, it is a reminder. A reminder to never ever forget who I am and where I am from. I am reminded of ikasi, abantu bami and my upbringing. As much as I went to white schools, often called Model C schools in South Africa, all my life this was always the type of music I most connected with. Unlike in Hip Hop, RnB and any other popular genre from the West, black music or not, the people who made Kwaito music looked like me, spoke like me and were from the same neighbourhoods as me. That is why the music is that special to me. What Kobayashi created was something I did not know that I really needed, a great relief from the music I had been consuming – electronic beats, trap, house and boom bap.
Bhari listens like a late 90s Kwaito song with a modern, 2016/17 feel to it. The slang used in the song is representative and reflective of the time we’re in, the pulse of the culture and oddly enough the socio-economic landscape of South Africa. References of the finer things in life are embedded in the song. In the song, Bhubhesii speaks in first-person and addresses the listener directly in his delivery. His Soweto upbringing comes out in full-force as he lives out the character of itop shayela yase kasi.
The instrumental carries a House groove with a BPM that is commonly found in a traditional Kwaito joint. Bhubhesii confidently unleashes his alter ego, Kobayashi, reminding us not to forget sounds and cultures that are original to us as South Africans. With this style of music, Bhubhesii gives Kwaito a much needed lifeline by pushing it before the eyes of today’s youth who may have forgotten or unaware of where we come from as a culture. Bhubhesii is in a great position to do this as he is one of the founding members of BoyZnBucks, a collective that informs most of what we see in music, street fashion and youth culture.
Stream Bhari below and bask in all its glory: