Arts + Culture

City Guide: DJ Lag and Rudeboyz's Guide To Durban

Durban-based gqom impresarios DJ Lag & Rudeboyz give us the keys to their city, showing us the best spots for tunes, romance, food and more.

In our series City Guide, we ask our favorite musicians, actors, artists and celebrities what their go-to spots are in their hometown.

In this installment, gqom impresarios DJ Lag and Rudeboyz give us the keys to Durban, showing us the best spots for tunes, romance, food and more.

For more from them and the raw, electronic sound of Durban's underground scene, check out DJ Lag & Rudeboyz's Essential Gqom Playlist.

Best Place To Eat

DJ Lag: Tates Kasi Grill in Clermont—it's a braai spot, a shisa nyama. I like to go chill there on Sundays.

Rudeboyz: Spiga D'oro. It's Italian food in the heart of Durban, in the main party road.

Best Spot To Party

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Rudeboyz: Cubana Havana Lounge, it's where gqom was born. It's our spot from back in the days.

DJ Lag: Uhuru. Uhuru is the first place where I started DJing, I've been playing there a lot. That’s where DJ Lag got started.

Best Concert Venue

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DJ Lag: King's Park, that's all there is for the big events.

Rudeboyz: People's Park. Where they do big venues is where we look.

Best Place to Hangout With Friends

DJ Lag: My place. Because we're always making music there and ‘cause I have a nice big screen and a PlayStation. I like GTA and FIFA 2015—normally I play as Barcelona.

Rudeboyz: We hang out only to work. But we also work with our friends.

Best Studio

DJ Lag: My house and Sebubzi's place for recording—strictly using Fruity Loops.

Rudeboyz: It depends on the kind of project we're working on. Normally we prefer our studio.

Best Beach

DJ Lag: Virginia Beach. You can come with drinks and cooler boxes.

Rudeboyz: South Beach. It's got a good view, and it's where we meet with all of our friends. We go there when it's hot.

Best Date Spot

Rudeboyz: Gateway Mall. Walk around the mall and watch movies with your girl.

DJ Lag: Gateway Mall, especially to go to the movies.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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