Audio

AJ Holmes' 20 Years Of Kwaito Mix

AJ Holmes pulls from old cassettes to assemble a "20 Years Of Kwaito Mix" in honor of South Africa's Freedom Day.


Photo by Krisanne Johnson

It's been a minute since we've shed light on the eclectic musings of the UK's AJ Holmes (frontman for London six-piece AJ Holmes & The Hackney Empire). It's also been some time since we've shown our love for Kwaito on the site. But alas, our friends at Ghetto Bassquake have tipped us off to a recent nod to two decades of Kwaito. In honor of South Africa's Freedom Day this past Sunday, Holmes pulled from old cassettes to assemble a mix of his favorite Kwaito tracks spanning the mid-90s to early 2000s. Take a look at the full track list and stream/download the full 33-minute mix below. Holmes had the following to say:

"20 years ago – on the 27th April 1994 – ‘Nelson Mandela took office as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. 
The removal of the political and economic sanctions greatly transformed the South African music industry. In the backdrop of a transforming South Africa, Kwaito took shape in the township Soweto’.

For me this mixtape marks a personal 10 year reflection; since I first heard this mid 90′s / early 00′s Kwaito – South African Hip Hop – music. Which became a big part of the 2004 Summer sound track for me and my friends, after my friend João Orecchia returned from South African the previous year with a plastic bag filled with cassettes.

I was recently having a bit of a spring clear out and come across these cassettes. As much as I was really into them at the time; I somehow wasn’t surprised to discover that they sound even better to me now then they did all those years ago!"

TRACKLIST

Mandoza – "50/50"

Jimmy B – "Make Em Bounce"

TKZee – "Magesh"

Spokes ‘H’ – "Wara Wara"

Aba Shante – "Come Get Me"

Brenda Fassie – "Qula"

Arthur – "Kaffir"

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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