South Africans generally have a great affinity for Soul music, music with a feeling, music rich in emotion. As much as the country may be known for being one of the world’s dance music capitals, the country churns out some of the best Soul and R&B artists. Real music as some may call it, means a lot to South Africa. For one, most South Africans know that Sundays are reserved for soulful music as many of the big time radio stations in the country, be it Metro FM, uKhozi FM, Ligwalagwala FM, Lesedi FM, Kaya FM and even iKwekwezi FM – reserve their afternoon slots for R&B, Soul and Jazz. Radio legends like Eddie Zondi, Bob Mabena and Wilson B. Nkosi have been immortalized, given a pedestal as seasoned tastemakers within this section of music.
Much of the soulful music that is prominent in the country and has won over the hearts of South Africans, was released in the 80s, 90s and early 00s from the West. Barry White, Lionel Ritchie, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Roy Ayers are some of the stand out names who reigned supreme in the 80s, who have enjoyed love from South Africa fans. Then we get to the 90s, groups like SWV, KCI & Jo Jo, Boys to Men and artists like Brian McKnight and Keith Sweat enjoyed the same love that their 80s predecessors enjoyed. These artists have had a massive influence on South African R&B and Soul.
South African pioneers like the Soul Brothers, Miriam Makeba, Caiphus Semenya and his wife Letta Mbulu, have laid the foundation for the new generation when it comes to music that is more soul-focused. The birth of Afro-soul is the result of their efforts and the genre has since grown beyond the borders of South Africa. You find artists making this type of music everywhere in the country, even in the least expected places like small towns that many never pay attention to.
You’re probably asking yourself this: “But where is the new generation, what are they doing?” Hold your horses, we’re getting there. The new generation of South African artists have their own interpretation of Afro-soul and R&B which is more influenced by the more dominant electronic soundscapes, which is a standard of the time we’re in. Artists like Bryson Tiller, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Frank Ocean are the gods of modern R&B and Soul – at least in the more mainstream space. And their influence is felt, and felt hard as upcoming artists like Kliye, Zooci Coke Dope and Bigstar Johnson play in a similar realm. In the more alternative arena, a young artist from Limpopo is slowly carving his way into the hearts of people that come across his music online.
Xander McFierceon (real name Xander Phenyo), a Lebowakgomo based artist, is a breath of fresh air that is the result of the heavy lifting and grafting done by the ones that came before him, your Ringo Madlingo’s, your Joe Nina’s and your Robbie Malinga’s. In his case, he makes music that speaks to his peers, is heavily influenced by his immediate surroundings and his own personal experiences. A dynamic artist that teeters between the rap, R&B and Afrobeat world, he is undoubtedly a talent that needs to be paid attention to. The songwriting in his songs is reflective of his reality and the times we’re in. His recently released FRUITLOUNGE EP, is a journey into a new but familiar place. An exploration of sound accompanied by impeccable songwriting, the project is a gem. Check this kid out, you will not regret it as he is the future.
Stream the FRUITLOUNGE EP below: