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Stay Cozy Group Presents The Winter Sessions Featuring Flex The Ninja

Johannesburg based record label founded by South African producer, KaeB, is a label focused on developing a new industry in Africa. Having developed an artist network which has artists from Botswana, South Africa, eSwatini and the US, Stay Cozy Group has its eyes set on dominating the world one song at a time.

To celebrate the label’s growth, it releases a 30 minute mix by Botswana based Malawian producer and dancer — Flex The Ninja.

Stream the Winter Sessions mix curated by Flex The Ninja.

Follow Stay Cozy Group on Instagram.

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Featured Music Reviews

First Third Review 2018: A look at some of best Southern African underground house releases of 2018

The increase in high quality releases has been one of the most notable highlights within the underground house music scene so far in the region. In return, the consumption of the music has gone up as well, not only locally but also internationally. Locally produced house music has reached a level where it easily matches it’s internationally produced counterpart. In a more holistic scene, this has seen a significant paradigm shift towards electronic music. Mainstream music platforms such as radio has noted the focus on electronic music and has weighed in by increased shows that focus on the scene, as underground as it is. As the first third of 2018 sets on the horizon, allow me to take you on a tour of my standout underground house music releases of 2018 thus far, within a Southern African perspective.

Kunzima Theology – Thula

Label: Dopewax Records
Release Date: 05-01-2018

Thula is a thrilling and percussion driven 3-track EP by one of South Africa’s best Afro House producers, Kunzima Theology. Filled with spellbinding beats and rhythm that are so close to home that one literally envisions dancers around a fire dancing in a ritualistic manner. This instrumental EP is a definite dance floor filler. Theology and the title track – Thula – are my favourites.

Gabbana – The Lonely Orchestra (Part 2)

Label: Deeptribe Music/Fluxtuations Recordings
Release Date: 14-01-2018

Without a doubt, Gabbana is one of my favourite producers/electronic music artists in Mzansi right now. The Synth Master! Perfect for long drives, early morning jogs, dancing up a storm and, well, basically everything, each track delivers its own ambience and caters for almost every mood. I’m a bit mad at him though because he promised us The Lonely Orchestra Part 3 a while ago but is yet to deliver. I guess good things come to those who wait, right? Lerokolo captures my emotion and is my absolute favourite on this EP.

DJ Funky T (feat. Fil Straughan) – I Am Blessed

Label: Purple Music
Release Date: 02-02-2018

This gospel infused house music jam is a groovy reminder of how blessed we are. I suppose the blessing is not in what one has but in the gift of life itself. The amalgamation of Fil Straughan vocals and DJ Funky T’s garage inspired instrumental has a classic house feel to it – a blast from the past if you must.

Various Artists – Music In A Nutshell

Label: Murmur MusiQ
Release Date: 05-02-2018

Released on DJ Fortee’s Murmur MusiQ this lovely digital compilation is a celebration of not only some of Pretoria’s best talents in 60 Hertz, Ta-Ice and TekniQ but more so a celebration of the growth of South Africa’s house music arena. How fitting that in accordance with its title, Music In A Nutshell, the compilation blends, into one,  the different facets of house that represent the authenticity of South Africa within the genre. Ta-Ice’s Fantasy and De Mogul SA’s remix of Dvine Brothers & Lady Zamar’s Dancing are my go-to favourites.

Kamanda (feat. Inathi) – Andik’funi (Incl. Remixes)

Label: Multi-Racial Records
Release Date: 10-02-2018

Andik’funi! Inathi makes it clear that she doesn’t want you as translated from isiXhosa. She touches on something rather sensitive right now. How in as much as men are allowed to propose love to women, the later are allowed to say “I don’t want you.” Avi Subban’s remix is an absolute gem, a deep house marvel ready to set any dance floor alight. In similar fashion, Tahir Jones rises to the occasion with his remix that can get any head bobbing.

Fka Mash & Tahir Jones – Letting You Go

Label: Fka Mash
Release Date: 14-02-2018

They dropped this on Valentine’s Day and the message is well-laced in Tahir Jones’ vocals. Speaking of which, this took me by surprise because I never knew the brother could hold his own behind the mic. Fka Mash aka the Midtempo Badman’s signature sound is effortlessly audible to avid listener’s of his music. Overall, a great collaboration from two of Mzansi rising electronic music stars.

Ta-Ice – Bele Nele

Label: Get Loud
Release Date: 16-02-2018

As most would associate him with Afro-Tech and Deep House, Ta-Ice shows off his versatility on Bele Nele – a soulful house beauty infused with subtle Afro-Latin percussions. Hearing such from Ta-Ice makes one look forward to his next album, should be eclectic.

Sir LSG (feat. Kafele & Jaidene Veda) – Memories (Incl. Remixes)

Label: GOGO Music
Release Date: 23-02-2018

After the successful release of his debut album Moving Circles, Sir LSG continues to roll-out singles coupled with remixes that add an extra dimension to his already blissful offerings. This time it’s the mellow Memories featuring Kafele and Jaidene Veda that gets a majestic retouch from the legendary Osunlade through his Yoruba Soul visionary production.

Neww Black – Twice Hi EP

Label: +268 Recordings
Release Date: 23-02-2018

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has really stepped it up in terms of her presence within the deep house scene in the region. Neww Black, a Manzini based duo of Martin Dexo & Xero come at us with a UK garage inspired 4-track EP titled Twice Hi. Man, oh man! Built To Burn is definitely meant to burn the speakers or at least the decks. Music is Dangerous is another banger, looking forward to hear more from these guys.

Dark Art (feat. Rai Knight) – Stay

Label: Black Medallion
Release Date: 01-03-2018

A debut release by Dark Art on his newly formed label Black Medallion and what an introduction it is. Rai Knight’s luscious voice captivates while the vibey beat keeps one in that melodic trance. Forteba adds his own flavour to the mix with his own rendition of Stay, though the original still wins it for me.

Pierre Johnson – Movin’ On

Label: Pierre Johnson
Release Date: 02-03-2018

In less than a year, Pierre Johnson has shot up to the top of South Africa’s deep house scene. He is the perfect representation of Cape Town’s resurgence with the electronic music arena in Mzansi. This single – Movin’ On – is definitely in contention for Best House Record of the Year at this year’s South African Dance Music Awards, in my view. Filled with emotion and a pounding kick intertwined with a melody that sticks. The message in the song is the cherry on top, “We’ve got to keep moving!”.

Various Artists – House Afrika Pres. Mzansi House Vol. 7

Label: House Afrika
Release Date: 16-03-2018

At a time when deep house heads were begging for representation and the musicians themselves deserving of the recognition, House Afrika stood up and answered the call. One of the most exciting bumper multi-CD compilations to be released by the record label in the longest of times, in my opinion. The compilation brings together the views and taste of Kid Fonque, Kat La Kat, Jazzuelle and Mid Madiq & Nuno Estevez as they meticulously blend the perfect representation of the present and the future of not just deep house but electronic music in South Africa. My current favourites are Uyaganga by Think Twice, Vega  by Jazzuelle featuring Dwson, Strange Frequencies by Rephlex and Got Ur Number by Kat La Kat & Aquatone, these change weekly though.

PK Vibe – Reverse Biased EP

Label: AfroMove Music
Release Date: 23-03-2018

When voltage is applied across a diode in such a way that the diode prohibits current, the diode is said to be Reverse-Baised. This may mean nothing to you but it forms the foundation of the Limpopo-born producer’s state of mind while creating this 4-track EP. PK Vibe starts of this sublime EP with a midtempo feel and slowly begins to move up the tempo and he moves through the terminals. Terminal 1 (Output) and Terminal 3 (Output) carry the highest charge for me and remain right at the top of my playlist.

Sean Munnick – Revelation EP

Label: Stay True Sounds
Release Date: 23-03-2018

It seems that everything that Sean Munnick touches turns to gold, musically speaking. His latest EP, Revelation, blazes a trail for South Africa’s soon-to-be saturated deep house scene. Actually, it is an injustice to confine his music to deep house. Week N Chill featuring Daev Martian seems to be a fan favourite, understandably so but Should Have Known is my jam – a funk-filled boogified deep house banger. What a breath of fresh air, thanks for this beauty Sean!

Those Boys – A Breath of Fresh Air

Label: Deep Fusion Records
Release Date: 30-03-2018

 

Speaking of a breath of fresh air, Those Boys seem to be on the same mission haha! Released on their own label, Deep Fusion Records, A Breath of Fresh Air is a conjuncture of soulful and deep house where the trumpet and lead guitar are the thread that keet the blend together. I’m a fan of these guys, or Those Boys rather, and I wish to see them leaving behind the events of the past and focusing on taking their rightful place at the summit of Mzansi’s soulful house scene.

BillowJazz – Parental Anniversary EP

Label: Just Move Records
Release Date: 02-04-2018

Billowjazz you naughty naughty boy! Hahaha! Though some may argue that the use of sexual suggestive sounds on the title track – Parental Anniversary – is rather unorthodox, I believe this is the epitome of creativity. How better to capture one’s audience, which is predominantly male by the way, than the use of such. He then goes on to deliver a dance-floor-assassin of a track in Mumbai Gate.

Benny T – Tswana Perspectives Pt. 4

Label: Open Bar Music
Release Date: 03-04-2018

The pride of Botswana’s underground house music scene, Benny T delivers the 4th instalment of his EP series titled Tswana Perspective. This exhilarating Afro House EP will have you dancing non-stop. I would have loved, though, if Benny T could have incorporated more vocals in this package and share with us some of that rich Tswana culture. Nonetheless, this EP is bliss. Unearthing Berlin and Wobbling In My Mind are favourites of mine.

Stevaan – Inside Out Vol. 2

Label: Lilac Jeans Records
Release Date: 10-04-2018

Stevaan makes his return on Lilac Jeans Records with the sequel release to his Inside Out EP. He certainly packs a meaner punch on this one. Overall, the EP dabbles between Afro House and Deep House and all tracks are worthy of the being termed dance-floor-fillers. Deeper is the most exciting of them all and Ain’t Nothing’s Change isn’t so far behind it.

Various Artists – Get Stitched Vol. 2 (Selected by Sam Haskins)

Label: Deepstitched Records
Release Date: 17-04-2018

One of South Africa’s leading deep house labels brings together some of their most sought after artists for the 2nd instalment of Get Stitched, a compilation series. The likes of Avi Subban, Troyder, Keegs, !Sooks, Arty Party & Sand Isle all step up to the plate with a variety of minimal to uptempo deep house. Sam Haskins did an exceptional job of selecting these tunes. We must agree though that 1962 by !Sooks is a cut above the rest, as phenomenal as its counterpart Hattisn. Ta!-Dah! by Arty Party, also known as Tahir Jones, remains one of my top tunes on this baby.

Vanco – Reflection EP

Label: Afrocentric Records
Release Date: 20-04-2018

Reflection EP consists of two singles Lutho & Walls which are well complimented by remixes by international heavyweights John Tejada and Pablo Martinez. Lutho, featuring Njabulo Seh, is as afro-centric in its vocal delivery as is Vanco’s energetic instrumental which keep transcending as the cow bell subtly rings in the background.

Within Da Beats Pres. Vandal M – Paranoia EP

Label: Surreal Sounds Music
Release Date: 20-04-2018

After a brief hiatus, Vandal M re-emerges with Paranoia – a 6 track EP which marks his debut on the Within Da Beats series. With this release Vandal M put forward his name to be counted among the best in the land. He hasn’t lost his signature dubby sound but a significant amount of growth can be heard in his arrangement. Figures and Paranoia are solid bangers but Secret Door takes the cup for me.

DJ Bullet & Dvine Brothers (feat. Narno Tarne) – Beautiful Dreamer

Label: 0152 Records
Release Date: 27-04-2018

One of Pretoria’s veterans within house music, DJ Bullet, teams up with Dvine Brothers and songstress from the kingdom of eSwatini, Narno tarne, to give us a vibrant and uplifting song titled Beautiful Dreamer. The guitar touches me in all the right places in what is a wonderful fusion of soulful and afro house.

Kojo Akusa – iFreq EP

Label: Wholegrain Digital SA
Release Date: 29-04-2018

Described as an outer body experience, the proof is in the cover art as much as the music. Kojo Akusa blesses us with a 3-track EP titled iFreq, a continuation to his Deep Space House story. The EP is as much a blend of various facets of house as he is of the world – born in Russia of Ghanaian descent and based in South Africa. Krasnodar is a beast of a jam and my favourite on the package but take nothing away from I Believe which features Solitari, an English vocalist living in Berlin.

Whew! That was a mouthful. Amazing how the Mzansi underground house scene has picked up though, right? I know I may be leaving out some notable releases but I’m human too and this is just a reflection of the music I’m following and listening to. Feel free to hit me up on the socials and introduce me to some music that I may be missing out on. A young disclaimer before I depart, only music released between January and April of this year is considered. Please support the artists and buy the music, these artists and labels work hard to give us this kind of quality.

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Music Reviews

Listen to KaeB’s new conceptual project: My Neighbours Hate Me II

Johannesburg based producer, KaeB, dropped the second instalment of his conceptual beat tape series called ‘My Neighbours Hate Me’. On the second instalment, which is appropriately titled ‘My Neighbours Hate Me II’, he partners up with his close associates such as Parley Wang and trust B1. The EP is also the first showcase of newly launched music production agency/beat label founded by KaeB – Stay Cozy Group. With production assistance from the first artists on Stay Cozy Group, Flex The Ninja and AmoBeatz, the EP packs a lot of heat.

MNHMII also features one of Botswana’s most promising acts, Veezo View. A jam packed EP with nothing but bangers. Peep it below:

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Culture Featured Music Reviews

Gaborone’s hidden treasure: Flex The Ninja pushes progressive future beats in Botswana

Gone are the days where we look to the West if we want to vibe to progressive future beats and bass music. Africa is now where it’s at and this is seen in how much music from here often gets picked out and played overseas. Promoters, event organization, production crews and digital media platforms like us are growing in numbers, which is enough elements to uphold and sustain a growing scene. Producers are taking to the internet and connecting with their like-minded peers on the internet and using messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger to form healthy, long-lasting and soon-to-be profitable working relationships. These relationships tend to transcend the work that is required to build a scene, and friendships are developed.

Flex The Ninja is a young producer from Gaborone, who forms part of the new generation of African producers who are challenging themselves to create soundscapes that are far beyond what the African listener is accustomed to. One could easily mistake Flex for a producer from somewhere in the States, purely off his stylistic approach to production. The bounce and vibe that his productions are fast-paced, groovy and perfect for dancing, which makes sense because Flex is not just a producer but also a seasoned dancer that is quite popular in Gaborone. You can clearly tell that there is a Soulection influence in his music, as much of the bounce in his beats is synonymous with the leaders of future beats – Soulection.

The scene is pretty small in Gaborone, but it sure ain’t quiet because the amount of heat coming from Gaborone alone is enough to make the entire Southern Africa proud. And this all because of producers like Flex and his close associates. The kid is talented and a producer to look out for in 2018, and we have a feeling that one of major future beats labels from the West might scoop him up and grow his career. Look out for this kid, he’s the future.

Stream Flex The Ninja’s latest single below:

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Featured Music Reviews

The electronic pulse of the Swazi monarchy: The unavoidable efforts of independent label – Motherland X

The African drum is one of the most identifiable instruments in music. Loud, hard, energy-filled and powerful – the African drum is a physical representation, or rather a personification of the jolly spirit that African people have. The sound that emanates from the African drum is electric, swollen with character and personality, and carries an unmatched resonance that communicates the essence of being African.

In the postmodern times that we live in, culture and identity are malleable. The concept of being African is consistently stretched and tested, which goes to show that the generation that fearlessly holds the beacon of light for the betterment of humanity is more experimental than we could ever imagine. Ideas are not just ideas, they form part of the crucial fabric of the identities of young people, particularly those in the creative space. With bravery that is only exhibited by fictional superheroes, the creative youth are tackling the entertainment industry in hopes to usher in innovation. The youthful team behind small label, Motherland X, is a great example of bravery and tenacity, two traits that are crucial for success in the era we live in.

Coming from a small country where a monarchy still exists is probably the first obstacle that Motherland X will has to overcome. The mission is to not to be limited by the confines of their country, but to build a machine that will have a global appeal and reach. The label has already started covering ground and expanding in the South African music market, as Rendition & Ohpis are at the Red Bull Studios in Cape Town. A great move that sets the label up for greater things, access to a wider network and resources.

Moves like getting to record at Red Bull Studios, do not come at come through as a result of sublime luck – they are the result of consistently releasing music. The remix challenges that the label has been facilitating have been a strong entrance and introduction into the game. In this case, the numbers do not matter – only the music matters. Connecting Southern Africa is a mammoth task, but someone has to do it.

The energy in the label is high and the motivation is overflowing. This is seen in their latest remix pack, where they called on the production services of artists like Slotta, Devin Dee, KaeB, Code XVII and MLX co-founders, Vuma and Rendition. This time around they have remixed a song called 7 blunts by Botswana based rapper Veezo featuring WNDR. Stylistically, each remix is distinct and cannot be compared or linked to the original joint. Veezo and WNDR have an incredible way of handling language, their lyrics are filled with slang words that could be understood by anyone who is part of urban culture anywhere in the world. The flow and content create a world which the listener can live in and the different producers were able to build their ideas around the world that the two rappers created.

Image via Veezo

The latest remix pack should not be seen as just another remix EP, more is at play in this case. Three Southern African are connected and united in this endeavor, namely Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana. An international project that is shifting how artists, many of which started in the comfort of their bedrooms, collaborate. We have note one thing though, many of the artists that have gone through the Red Bull program have gone on to become very successful, think of Black Coffee, Julian Gomes and Youngsta just to name a few. The future holds incredible achievements for the small label that was founded in Swaziland – a label that is growing beautifully in the international market.

Listen to the remixes below:

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Music Premiere Reviews

Sounds from the diaspora: STHRN’s humble beginnings in Botswana to building his foundation in electronic music in China

For an artist, to find your sound is to find yourself. The experiences an artist collects, the places they travel to or inhabit and the people they meet all influence and inspire creativity and enhance artistry. In the case of Botswana-born China-based producer, STHRN, the journey into music is proving to be a fruitful one. From humble beginnings in Southern Africa’s most mineral-rich countries, Botswana, to applying himself to succeed in a foreign country in hopes to build a better future for himself. STHRN (real name Potlako Ntabe) is a medical student in China, who makes music in his spare time.

The act of sharing music online may seem to be small to some, but to STHRN it’s his way to prompt the world to listen to his music and connect with his story. Numbers do not necessarily matter when sharing art that is dear to you and if your heart is in the right place, you stand a chance to cultivate a healthy environment that allows your movements to gain traction. Traction is what STHRN is starting to see and that is not surprising to witness as he has worked on perfecting his craft for seven years.

Being in China does not limit him from connecting to his homeland as he prioritises including authentic African sounds into his music, which is more modern and electronic. He draws inspiration from some of the best and most progressive electronic, future beats and future bass movements such as Soulection, Dama Dama Records and artists like Bonobo and Toro Y Moi.

STHRN has been releasing music through Polish-based label, Icy Penguin, and has plans to release more music in future. The goal: flood the internet streets with good quality content.

We have the privilege to premiere STHRN’s latest track. Peep it below.