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Featured Music Reviews

Silent & hidden innovators: 808x provides a soundtrack to South Africa’s metropolitan youth

An enigma of note, 808x is probably one of the most important young producers in South Africa right now. Catering mostly for high schoolers and young adults, he provides the theme music for the lives of young, urban black South Africans. Young black South Africans that are fearless and see or experience no boundaries to their creativity, an expressive bunch that is creative a new narrative for urban music culture in South Africa. Creatively, he exists primarily in the emerging new wave Hip Hop scene – a scene that is stylistically unique to South Africa but global in sound design. As a producer, 808x can easily be regarded as an architect of the new youth-driven Hip Hop sound that is huge on the internet.

A founding member of a rising internet collective and multimedia business, innanetwav, 808x sits at the core of a movement that is catching the attention of a lot of South African youth. He sits in a position of power, where he can direct a generation with his new sound, and through collaborations with his compadres, he can embed a new school of thought in his art. For a young person, he does not fully utilize the full potential of social media as he rarely posts and when he does post, it’s something related to his work or the work of one of his collaborators. Fascinating, I must say.

808x has had a hand in the careers of some of the best come up acts in South Africa this year. Cats like Sxlve The Problem and The Big Hash, and well-respected MC, Ginger Trill. Familiarize yourself with this talent and hop on the wave, you surely won’t regret it.

Stream one of the latest tracks that 808x has produced:

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Featured Music Reviews

Introducing Dwson: Cape Town’s Deep House golden child rocking the electronic nation

As much as this article is conveniently titled ‘introducing Dwson, the Cape Town based phenomenon needs no introduction. A trailblazer of note, existing primarily on the deeper side of House music, he consistently delivers tunes that captivate music lovers who are fortunate enough to come across his music – be it from an online source, from a trusted friend or loved one or a DJ in a dimly lit venue. The one unique thing about Dwson is how diverse he is and his ability to create a myriad of different worlds with his music whilst still playing in the dance music realm. Songs to cry to, songs to dance to, songs to fall in love to and songs to uplift you, all created by a man with rhythm and a heaven-sent talent. That is priceless. You cannot buy that.

With a string of releases from local and international underground labels, Dwson has shown that his talent and sound is in high demand. A style that cannot be replicated is hard to come by, especially in most genres of electronic music, Dwson consistently delivers without fail and House fans fall deeply in love with his work. For one, he has a sound that you can easily export as original. I personally choose to describe his sound as deep House music with subtle influences from European House sprinkled with traditional African beat stabs that can easily have you in a trance-like state, dancing uncontrollably.

Dwson is an icon following in the footsteps of South African House legends like Vinny Da Vinci, Christos, Michael G and more recently, Black Coffee. If you ever come across him, whether it’s online or in real life, show him love and thank him for his contributions to African (I could have said South African, but what Dwson does far exceeds any region-specific limitation) electronic music. He is important, valuable and we must protect him.

Ask Kid Fonque, he knows. Ask the culture, it knows how talented Dwson is, and it is time for you get with the program too. Don’t sleep!

Listen to one of dopes tracks titled ‘Daffodil‘ below:

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Featured Music Reviews

Introducing Jay EM: Port Elizabeth based DJ brothers bringing a fresh new energy to the electronic music scene in Mzansi

Port Elizabeth is a city that is hardly mentioned in conversations about key cultural and creative hubs in South Africa. The windy coastal city boasts a unique culture of music that you cannot find in bigger metropolitan regions like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. In PE, people love dance music and some of South Africa’s best electronic music comes from there and as of late, more and more artists are breaking the mold and bringing fresh sounds and perspectives to the fore.

DJ brothers, more formally known as Jay Em, are a great example of the talent that exists in the windy coastal city. It would be a great injustice if they would be limited and solely reduced to a mere description of ‘disc jockey’, as they are more than that – they are producers with gifted with unique ears of sound. In sync they move, they create music that captivates dance floors wherever they go.

Jay Em captured the attention of South African music legend and industry player, Kid Fonque, which subsequently led to them having a release on Stay True Sounds. The release served as a great introduction for the duo and assisted them in capturing a new type of listener. Jay Em is undoubtedly an act that more music lovers that love progressive music should pay attention to.

Listen to one of their latest tracks below:

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Featured Music Premiere Reviews

PREMIERE: Joburg based Swazi artist, Rendition, is determined to get more out of the music industry with the release of his latest single

The music industry is a wild, chaotic and unpredictable industry. Scores of creative hopefuls take a shot at being a successful act within the music business, but many fail repeatedly along the way and eventually give up. Passion and talent are necessary ingredients for success in the music game, but they unfortunately do not guarantee progress. A mixture of luck, hard work and timing, is normally enough for one to at least get one foot in the right industry doors in music.

To reach the top, one has to be open and welcoming to sacrifice for their art and familiarize themselves with the feeling of being constantly uncomfortable. Swaziland-born producer slash artist, Rendition, is a perfect example of an artist that has had to sacrifice a lot to be where he is today. After bravely taking on a journey of relocating to South Africa, where he had to prove himself as an artist, find a way to make ends meet and build the necessary connections, he has succeeded in covering a sizeable amount of ground within the South African music industry. Mind you, the South African music industry is one of the toughest music markets in Africa to successfully break into, so that provides you with a little bit of context and perspective as to how hard Rendition has had to work to add weight to his name.

A willingness to learn and be guided has shaped him into the artist that he is today. From starting out as a deep house DJ to challenging himself to make other genres of urban music like Hip Hop and EDM, to founding one of the first electronic music focused labels in Swaziland – Rendition has progressed as a person, creative and now, a business person. On the creative side of things, Rendition worked his way up and eventually got the attention of Red Bull Studios Cape Town which lead to him being invited to record a project at the establishment. A project that was to be called Art. Love. Magic. A body of work that was a made in five days and with a limited amount time, Rendition displayed his genius by challenging himself creatively and content wise.

Art.Love.Magic is a 5 track EP entirely produced and written by Rendition. One of the most interesting elements about this EP is the rise of Rendition – the songwriter. With guidance from his longtime collaborator, C-Tea, and his business partners, Vuma and DJ Ohpis, Rendition builds a musical world where he can be vulnerable and speak on things like love, heartbreak and how heartbreak can inspire greatness.

On the first single of the EP, Rendition calls on the expertise of C-Tea to help him speak on how much he wants to succeed, how he is curving the many distractions in the entertainment business and how despite all his achievements, he still craves and wants more – for himself, his team and his family.

Listen to More below:

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Featured Music Reviews

The beat pride of Mabopane: Cornelius SA’s relentless push to share deep, authentic South African sounds to the world

Pretoria’s very own shining star, Cornelius SA, is a boundary pusher. Far from a diamond in the rough, his name gains weight by the day through his work as a gifted House producer and a DJ. Moving as a fearless icon within the House scene in South Africa bearing co-signs from the ones that come before him, the ones from his generation and the ones that form the bedrock of the House music culture, his path is already carved out for him to succeed and break into the international realm of dance music.

Banging beats that captivate the dance floors all over South Africa, Cornelius SA has a unique style that has the South African story lodged within it. He understands groove and all the musical elements that will catch the attention of the South African house listener. You can be on the deeper side of things or on the more pop, commercial side of things, but the music that Cornelius makes will have you move. And with this talent and a unique ear, he has managed to have the House scene to back him as he takes on the world. He was announced as one of the few artists selected for a coveted spot in Red Bull Music Academy in Berlin. A big move and a win for him, but more so a win for everyone that has supported his vision and talent.

Cornelius has rather big shoes to fill, especially for a producer that hails from Pretoria, as he has people like Maphorisa and DJ Spoko who can he can mirror when it comes to breaking into the international sphere. A talented musician playing within the vast electronic music world, Cornelius has built a solid audience that is hungry for his sound. The Dopewax Records artist is destined for greatness.

Listen to his latest EP with the talented Jackie Queens on SoundCloud:

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Featured Music Reviews

Introducing Malachi: Joburg’s newest talent confidently pushing melody-driven rap

It is always exciting when you come across a musician that gifts you difference when similarity and mediocrity is the order of the day. Malachi, an eighteen-year-old Johannesburg based rapper, brings a fresh new energy to the game – an energy that we desperately need. Like his creative peers, Malachi sees the world differently and to some extent one can even go as far as saying that boundaries do not exist for his generation. The raps are melody-driven, the perspective is global, and the style is relatively new in the South African urban music space.

Raking up thousands of listens on SoundCloud is no small feat, Malachi is putting numbers on the board and no one (especially old heads) can deny the impact the young spitta has. Malachi forms part of the new generation of artists that are independently releasing music that eventually invites the world to South Africa. Armed with nothing but social media and file hosting services like SoundCloud and Audiomack, these kids are defining their destinies and it is a beautiful sight to watch. The cream of the crop, Malachi is definitely a talent you should not sleep on.

Listen to his latest single, Nothing New, below:

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Culture Featured Interviews

Meet Enoch Mlangeni: A self-taught artist that uses the power of social media to share his talent with the world

Who is Enoch Mlangeni?
Enoch “EnnockMArt” Mlangeni is a 26 year-old artist based in Sasolburg, Zamdela. His journey in art started in grade 6 when he used to sketch a lot of characters from his favourite comics. After completing high school, he was met with an obstacle that prevented him from furthering his education and equipping himself with the necessary tools to advance his art. He  when he took it upon himself to research and teach himself all the different art techniques he can now implement in his painting and drawings. When he realised that collaborating with galleries was going to be a little bit hard for him due to the limited amount of space and opportunities for young artists, he then decided to build a name for himself on social media. By consistently sharing his work on social media, he has built up a supportive following online, which motivates and prompts him to continue creating more works of art.

A little background on the Mama Winnie Madikizela drawing.
He started sketching when he heard that Mama has passed on, when he realised how everyone was dropping their paintings and sketches online. He also decided to join in after seeing some of the mediocre images doing the rounds. When the media started commemorating mama Winnie’s life and all that she has done for South Africa and its people, Enoch was inspired and felt the need to create something when the country was in mourning and the least he could do was use his talent to honour her memory. He has finished the second art piece which he is going to give to mama Winnie’s daughters.

Image credit: Nqobile Sithole

What inspired all his other art pieces?
He draws all his inspiration from past experiences and women. He was raised by his grandmother and his grandmother’s sacrifices have been a massive influence in some of the pieces. “I have a different view on women and because past experiences have taught how selfless and loving they are” Enoch says. Women and the role that women play in society inform much of the topics and themes he chooses to tackle.

He also has a series of work with young boys carrying books on their head and wearing t-shirts with different quotes, this was a move to motivate young boys growing up in and around Sasolburg to never let their circumstances block them from achieving their dreams.

image of nqobile sithole
Image credit: Nqobile Sithole

Future Plans
He wants to open an art academy but first he is still trying to raise enough funds for a proper art studio so he can start teaching a small group of children interested in the arts. He also wants collaborate with people willing to help him exhibit his body of work called The Butterfly Found Its Wings.

Follow him on Twitter.
Follow him on Facebook.
Follow him on Instagram.

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Featured Music Reviews

WATCH: Soweto-born rapper, Bongeezy, highlights his expressive & creative nature with his ‘Kumanzi Phansi’ video

Colourful in presentation, cutting edge in its conceptualisation and execution, Bongeezy’s Kumanzi Phansi video is one of the best visuals we’ve seen in South Africa. The song carries the core elements of traditional rap: the bars, the attitude and the charisma. Bongeezy does not shy away from the fact that Hip Hop is competitive and as a result he positions himself as a purveyor of originality.

With the video, Bongeezy gets to showcase his vision of breaking away from the template-oriented and generic culture that currently exist in most pop culture spaces – where artists see no wrong on in imitating the next man or woman. T-mani, the artist is featured on the song, brings confident and braggadocious energy which sets the tone for the following statement: we see what you are doing, we acknowledge it but we won’t conform.

Watch the video below:

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Featured Music Reviews

Introducing FYNN: Cape Town’s deep house maestro creating authentically South African urban music

With about 5 years of production experience, FYNN has amassed a decent following within the South African deep house scene and gained respective from some of the key participants of the culture. And that, to be honest, is impressive. The Cape Town based talent carries a unique style that has traditional African sounds embedded in it. Futuristic in composition and profoundly true to the South African narrative, FYNN’s music becomes somewhat of a doorway into the underground electronic dance music scene in Africa. The music speaks to and complements the rhythm at which the youth of South Africa move.

It is without doubt that FYNN is a pioneer in his own right, crafting beats that will have any dance music lover tapping their feet, bobbing their head and shaking their body uncontrollably due to the vibes. With an original production style and a great ear, FYNN is well on his way of becoming a great House export from Mzansi.

Listen to his latest single ‘Phola’ featuring Khanyo below:

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Featured Interviews Music Reviews

Cape Town based production duo, Twice The, speaks to us about their new EP

Cape Town based production outfit, Twice The, has shaken up the electronic beats scene in South Africa, all through the strength of one single. The production duo is made up of two of the most talented producers to come out in the last three years in South Africa. Fernando and Likhona (popularly known as Seventhgaze) share a similar vision and are consistently pushing boundaries within the electronic music scene. With co-signs from seasoned vets in South Africa like Kid Fonque and DJ Raiko, the two young producers are geared up to be notable success stories in the game. We got the privilege of catching up with them via email about their upcoming EP and got to find out more about them as a production outfit. Peep the interview below.

Please tell us more about Twice The and what inspired the creation of the production duo.
We connected online after we had both released music under the same record label in late 2016 and we just started sharing music we’d been working on. After months of getting to know each other and seeing each other perform, Fernando invited me to his sessions at Red Bull Studios and we started working on our music together there.

You guys are based in Cape Town. How has your hometown responded to the style of music that you make? I mean Cape Town is known as the home of electronic music in South Africa.
We’ve only put a single out so far but the response to just that alone was amazing, we’ve played a few shows together already and people really enjoyed the sounds we were spreading which was cool to see. Certain spots in Cape Town are really open to whatever people present to them which allows us a lot more room to experiment with our sounds.

You currently have one single out now called ‘Red’. One can easily categorise the joint as Hip Hop inspired electronica. What can people expect from the EP you guys are dropping on Friday?
It can be put into a whole bunch of categories depending on how you look at it and how you interpret it but we find that it’s a look into the sounds and feelings we’re really drawn to and are sometimes too scared to explore in our solo projects. You can expect more spaced-out, melodic stuff. It’s always perfect to listen to after a crazy party or something.

You have quite a few EP launch parties lined up and some of the dates include Johannesburg. What prompted the move to push your music in the city of gold?
We need to spread the sounds far and wide and let people know what we’re up to. It’s always good to be those guys running on the ground actually making these little missions, instead of being mainly internet-based artists. There’s a lot of good people here that are also open to a lot the stuff we enjoy doing so it’s only right to show them some love too.

What do you think of the alternative music industry in South Africa? Is there progress? Are you seeing any opportunities you can take advantage of?
A lot of the people involved are starting to take ownership of their own work and are pushing everything that they’re about by themselves. Everyone’s helping themselves and the people around them. There’s nothing really to take advantage of that but it’s something we are also trying to do for ourselves so we’re standing with all the independent artists that are opening their own doors out there.

What can people expect from you guys in 2018?
More music, more art, more shows, more good parties, more memories.

 When your EP drops, where can people stream or download it?
Everywhere! From iTunes to Bandcamp to Tidal to Soundcloud.

Stream the latest single, Red, from the upcoming EP below.