Fantasma's Township Ballet Video For 'Cat And Mouse'

Spoek Mathambo and DJ Spoko's Fantasma project shares the ballet video for "Cat And Mouse," shot in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township.

Fantasma, the South African project from Spoek Mathambo, bacardi house pioneer DJ SpokoAndré GeldenhuysMichael Buchanan and Bhekisenzo Cele, collaborate with filmmaker Tlhonepho Thobejane and Nowness in the visuals for "Cat And Mouse," the Mim Suleiman-featuring single off their Free Love LP. The music video follows a group of young ballet dancers as they finesse their way across Cape Town's Khayelitsha township.

“My mother is on the board of a dance company in Johannesburg that has been going since the height of the unrest in South Africa in the 1970s," Spoek Mathambo tells Nowness. "I've seen how modern dance and ballet has offered kids another reality. My wife is an artist and musician, and she was doing research into some kids from a really rough neighborhood that have picked up ballet... A lot of people worked on the video for free, so that 70% of the budget could be donated towards funding the kids to go on ballet exchange to Europe. It was hard to shoot, because a lot of people were really rude and aggressive towards the boys. The scene where the township guy challenges them to a dance battle – the reality was a lot rougher. They were incredibly brave to do it.”

Watch the township ballet music video for Fantasma's "Cat And Mouse," featuring Mim Suleiman, below and revisit the group's solid Free Love album.


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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