Ayobaness! The Sound of South African House
Help us keep this site free for all
New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Please support us with a small recurring donation so we can keep it free to read online.
Released very much with an eye on football’s World Cup tournament, Ayobaness! is a 13-track compilation showcasing the diversity of South Africa’s take on that international club language, house music.
House came to Africa early in its inception, and the music’s low-tech aesthetic fed into South Africa’s indigenous kwaito, a dance music slower than house’s typical 120 beats per minute. There’s plenty here to show how South Africa’s DJs and musicians are shaping the genre into its own creature. ‘Ayoba!’ – the word is an exclamation of excitement – is all over ‘Ayobaness!’, a get-’em-dancing track from Pastor Mbhonho, the alter ego of kwaito star Mzekezeke. From Pretoria, the pioneering DJ Mujava is responsible for ‘Mugwanti/Sgwejegweje’, one of the major cuts here, and a stark example of strident rhythm. Kraftwerk’s pulsing influence is felt on DJ Clock’s ‘Xavatha’, but the award for electro elegance goes to DJ Sumthyn Black for ‘Wena’. Recorded with the Jo’burg poet Ntsiki Mazwai, this is an elegant example of pared-down 303-basslines married to a fashionably disdainful voice-over.