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Listen to ‘Clan Beats,’ an EP Produced by DJ Maphorisa Featuring Thandiswa Mazwai, Sjava, Madala Kunene, Sho Madjozi and More

South African artists celebrate their indigenous languages and cultures on newly-released 'Clan Beats' EP.

DJ Maphorisa recently teamed up with the beer brand Castle Milk Stout to release an EP. The project, which is titled Clan Beats, pairs up contemporary with veteran South African musicians on four songs that explore identity. There are four South African ethnic groups represented in the project; Xhosa (Thandiswa Mazwai, Zolani Mkiva), Tswana (KB, Stoan), Zulu (Sjava, Madala Kunene), Tsonga (Sho Madjozi, Dr Sithole).


"I was really excited, it reminds us of our culture and stuff so I said, you know what, it's been a while. Even me I'm from the urban side so it made me want to know about my culture so it really was a dope thing to be a part of," Maphorisa was quoted as saying about his involvement in the project.

Clan Beats is worthy listen—a wide range of soundscapes accommodate equally varied delivery styles. Each contemporary artist is paired with a praise poet to deliver a song that celebrates their indigenous languages and culture through music. The project is being released in light of Heritage Month, the month of September in which South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their indigenous cultures every year.

Clan Beats saw artists perform over music that isn't necessarily their comfort zone. For instance, Sho Madjozi, who's' mostly known for rapping over gqom production, rides an amapiano beat on the song "Hi Bomba."

Clan Beats is entirely produced by DJ Maphorisa, one of the most prolific and diverse producers in the country. His recent forays into amapiano through the release of Scorpion King alongside Kabza De Small, have ensured to keep him in the zeitgeist. Clan Beats is yet another trick off Mpahorisa's sleeve.

Stream Clan Beats below:



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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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