Audio

Audio: The Underbelly Of South African Electro-Dubstep


"There are two sides to every coin" - an analogy that accurately describes the South African music scene at the moment. On one side there are the commercial genres of kwaito, house, and on the catchup, hip hop. On the other side, there's the more forceful and dynamic underbelly of electro-dubstep, which has acquired a cultish appeal. The city of Cape Town has become the dungeon of SA music, breeding a plethora of experimental alternative musical acts expressing their genius through A.D.H.D and afflicted sounds to the intrigue of global markets underground or commercial alike.

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The Cape Town-based duo, the Exorsistahs take on the role of the badass female: "Exorsistahs, coming for ya mistahs…” The sound is quintessentially grunge with a ghoulish and esoteric twist, detached and desolate with the occasional catchy hook as a saving grace for memorability’s sake. Their debut song and video "You Lie You Die" (video above) has greatly appealed to the new-age degenerate “don’t give a fuck” youth world-wide and been showcased on many an alt culture blog (ha).

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Also native to Cape Town is Sun-Do Q'lisi, this four piece band embodies the quirkiness and unpredictability of the electro-dubstep genre from their stage name to their stage presence. Their music has the least regard for concentration and the highest for experimentation and liberation as showcased in their teaser video (above). Their greatly mastered new audio release, "Azamah-oh-oh" (stream below) strikes the perfect balance of dance electro with head-banging dubstep bass drops complemented by convoluted colorful lyricism. It is yet to be seen how long the viral popularity of underground electro-dubstep music in South Africa will last, or more specifically, if experimental bands will assume a more permanent stance in the field. However, the most important fact to note is the existence of more than the average eye can see, and an abundance of creativity more than the most knowledgeable mind can conceive. The ideal of South African music is being shifted in a different direction most definitely.

Interview
Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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