News Brief

Veteran South African Talk Show Host Felicia Mabuza-Suttle Says America Under Trump is Like Apartheid

She recounts what her childhood under Apartheid South Africa was like.

Last week, MSNBC host Joy Reidslammed the Trump administration and likened it to Apartheid South Africa under the racist National Party. Reid accused President Donald Trump and the Republican Party as a whole for "being divorced from reality" and following in the footsteps of a fascist government. IOL reports that veteran South African talk show host and entrepreneur, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, posted the video of Reid speaking on social media and recounted how her own experiences in America reminded her of her childhood during Apartheid South Africa.


Mabuza-Suttle, who lives in Atlanta, has spoken about how she never leaves her house without carrying her driver's licence as a form of identification in case she is stopped by the police. The experience reminds of her how Black South Africans were bound by law to carry an identity book known as a dompas during Apartheid. Central to grand Apartheid laws was the restriction of Black South African's movements and dictating where they could and could not live under what was referred to as the Group Areas Act.

"This brought back memories of growing up as a little girl in South Africa, traumatized by police arresting Black men, including my father and uncle, and walking them for hours handcuffed in pairs, as they rounded up neighborhoods asking men for Pass Books," Mabuza-Suttle said. She added that, "To this day, those memories remain indelible in my mind. I remember seeing Black men thrown into the back of a police van. I can still hear that deafening knock on the door, in the middle of the night, from the Afrikaner police shouting, 'Open the door, police, Pass!"

Interestingly, Mabuza-Suttle also alleged that a number of White South Africans who had emigrated to the States and were living in Atlanta, had become staunch supporters of President Trump and his ideologies. This is, however, unsurprising as right-wing political parties and movements are currently on the rise in South Africa. Following the national elections earlier this year in May, the Freedom Front Plus increased their share in the national vote from 0.9 percent back in 2014 to 2.38 percent this year.

Music
Image courtesy of the artists.

Kwesta and Kabza De Small Return to Kwaito In Their New Collaborative Album

The South African hip-hop and amapiano stars revert to kwaito in Speak N Vrostaan.

Over the last few years, South African hip-hop’s overall prominence has slowed down — mostly because of amapiano’s tight grip on the market. As a result, most mainstream rappers have had to be innovative and incorporate the log drum into their tracks. One hip-hop artist who exemplifies and has executed this approach without neglecting his core artistry is Kwesta. The MC, who for a large part of the 2010s dubbed himself “Da King of African Rap,” has kept up with the times and his recent team up with Kabza De Small is a testament to this. As a rapper, who often dovetails into authentic, South African-birthed sounds, his decision to join forces with Kabza is not much of an anomaly.

Like Kwesta with South African hip-hop, Kabza is a towering and key figure within amapiano. For the past three years, the pioneering producer/DJ has remained a stalwart and has been one of the most streamed South African artists across all genres. As a solo act or together withDJ Maphorisa as Scorpion Kings, he has released genre-defining chart-topping amapiano tracks and projects. Through his label, Piano Hub, Kabza has also been instrumental in the careers of other artists including Kelvin Momo, Young Stunna and Mdu aka TRP.

The timely creative union of Kwesta and Kabza De Small dates back to 2020, amidst the peak of the pandemic when they had an encounter during a shoot for Channel 0’s Lockdown House Party show. As Kwesta tells it, Kabza was the one that initially suggested that they work together. At the time, the super producer had put out the first instalment of his Pretty Girls Love Amapiano album series and was gearing up for the release of the groundbreaking, I Am the King Of Amapiano: Sweet and Dust. From then, both their individual careers went on in their own unrelated ways: Kwesta released g.o.d Guluva in 2021 and Kabza put out multiple projects like 2021’s Rumble in the Jungle,Pretty Girls Love Amapiano 3 and 2022’s Scorpion Kings Live Sun Arena and KOA II Part 1, until they hit each other up via DMs on social media.

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Music
Image courtesy of the artist.

Vigro Deep’s Experimental Strain of Amapiano Is Boundless

A look at the South African producer's inventive amapiano style in his latest albums, Far Away From Home and My House My Rules.

In a recent clip posted on Pharrell William's Instagram and Twitter feeds, the American star producer and musician shares kind words about his experience at Chanel’s Senegal-hosted fashion show backed by the sounds of Vigro Deep’s “Africa Rise,” an unlikely, boundary-crossing amapiano hit by the 21-year-old South African-born producer/DJ.

Since his thrilling emergence in 2018, Vigro Deep has remained imaginative. His unique use of the log drum — characterised by its thundering, rolling effect, and the pause-and-trickling bass of earlier hits like “Black Power” and “Untold Stories,” caught the masses' attention. While he became a household name for this distinctive and easily recognized sound between then and 2020’s Rise Of A Baby Boy, Vigro has since revamped it and created a mosaic by pairing contemporary electro and techno elements and sensibilities with amapiano. He started toying with this composite style on the last installment of his Baby Boy album series, Baby Boy 4, which came out in May 2021.

Far Away From Home

In an interview published in August 2021, the inventive, Pitori-hailing producer was reluctant to describe his sound as just amapiano. “I’ll say it’s more like electro-house music,” he revealed. “You know, I’m making music for the world, not just for Africa, not just for South Africa. I’m making music out of the box, that’s why I’m very creative when I make my music. I make motion tracks where there’s a whole lot of things in there.”

One of the first few instances where Vigro fully exhibited the compositions that he had been working on was in London on August 27th, 2021. During his Keep Hush and Bone Soda Carnival Special live set, he premiered tracks that would end up on his double album, Far Away From Home, which arrived in the last days of November that same year. The title of the project implied Vigro’s intentions of steering away from his usual sound and South Africa. The artwork is also a testament to this notion; a boarding pass, passport, bank cards, and banknotes, are displayed from inside an aircraft. Outside the window you can see the UK flag and London Bridge—where Vigro has his eyes set on.

Far Away From Home’s pre-released lead single, “I Am Vigro Deep” also offered a sneak peek of what was to come. Dark, hollow, and thunderous instrumentation underpin a vigorous poem that wonders what would happen if Vigro Deep went deep. The lines, “If I go deep / Will people pray for my downfall /Or just wait to see / If I go bleak?” instantly stand out. Going deep for Vigro meant going against the grain or what had become a norm, stylistically, to mainstream Amapiano in 2021. “If I go deep/ Will people realise that I just do beats / And I don't speak? / If I go deep / Will people know that, I'm just Vigro deep?” Uncredited and euphoric vocal/vox samples that he says he got from Skrillex, who has since become his acquaintance/collaborator, fuel the album along with heavy bass-driven percussions.

While countless recent amapiano songs and projects are filled with collaborations between vocalists and co-producers, Vigro opted for minimalism. He is the sole contributor on most of the tracks, the majority of them being instrumentals — which in a way is reminiscent of his and the genre’s past. Though rooted in ‘piano, Far Away From Home is forward-looking and Europe-facing, all but one of the vocals and song titles are in English.

“My dream is to get to Spain. [With] the sound that I do, I think of Ibiza type [of places and festivals], Tomorrowland. That’s what I’m looking for, that’s what I’m looking at, that’s what I’m currently working at,” he told CNN, in their January 2022 released mini-documentary on amapiano.

Vigro’s dream would crystallize months later. In July 2022, “Africa Rise,” “Some Attitude,” and “I Am Vigro Deep” blasted through gigantic speakers in Ibiza during a Boiler Room show, where the internationally acclaimed duo, Major League DJz, UK-based DJs Charisse C and Ade Smilez rendered sets. LuuDadeejay, who works closely with the twins, is the project’s sole co-producer on the track “Number,” while Vigro’s frequent collaborators, DJ Bucks, Yashna, and Neo Ndawo make vocal appearances on “In The Dark” and “Fire & Ice,” respectively. Much like his adored, unreleased but leaked remake of Bring Me The Horizon’s “Can You Feel My Heart,” Vigro also put his peculiar spin on Amaarae’s viral track “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY,” which he says were both supposed to be on Far Away From Home.

Towards the tail end of the body of work reverberates the cheekily-titled “Some Old Song.” The track borrows the melody of Joakin’s remix of “Camino Del Sol” by French-Belgian trio Antena — which was popular in South Africa in the 2000s and was famously interpolated on rapper Kwesta’s 2016 hit “Ngud.” Vigro’s take on the song gave it a creative and futuristic facelift, contrasting the common direct manipulation of the original. In another interview published on Oct 22, Vigro revealed that 70% of Far Away From Home was done in London. And that he wanted “to create something new, to target the European market.”

When asked in a recent podcast, if he felt that South Africans underappreciated Far Away From Home, Vigro quickly disagreed, detailing that his countrymen were not the primary audience for the effort because of how different it is. He acknowledges how the LP was better received outside of his home country, and that South Africans “got it later.” As he regularly tours Europe, it’s evident that his productions have traveled far away from home, as he initially intended.

Your 'Piano Is Not My 'Piano

In his December 2022-released album, My House My Rules, Vigro Deep welcomes listeners with an anthemic track that contains a computerized voice towards the end. In a bid to trance-induce or prequel what is to come, the voice defines what hypnosis is and describes some of its characteristics.

In many ways, the genre-melding offering follows in the direction of its predecessor with plentiful use of synths, arena-ready build-ups, mega breaks, and drops. These are again accompanied by minimum features and collaborations. Snenaah and M.J lend their vocals on “Ngizokulinda” and “Petori to Ibiza,” while Senjay and Mhaw Keys can be heard chanting on “Shukushuku” and “Desperado.” Freddy K, like LuuDadeejay on Far Away From Home, is the lone co-producer on “No Mercy.” The album’s artwork visually displays Vigro’s solitude (in both his art and sonic direction) as he appears sitting in isolation in the dark.

My House My Rules his first release since he’s been out of his deal with Kalawa Jazmee and Universal Music. The 17-track record was released via Rinse — the label division of the London radio station, Rinse FM, making him the first amapiano act to put out a full project with them. When asked where he sees himself in the next two years, by the station’s on-air host DJ Neptizzle, Vigro confidently shared his ceaseless ambition of performing at the Belgian-birthed dance music festival. “I really see myself playing in Tomorrowland with the new sound that I have,” he declared unwaveringly, in the April-2022-broadcasted interview.

Don't go out too far they said, you haven't got the power / You'll never make it back / You’ve got too much to lose they said, told them they were wrong, and I disappeared into the black,” sings an ethereal voice on the third track, “5am Set.” On a July ‘22 Instagram live, the virtuoso showed his creative process as he put the finishing touches on the song by adding an accompanying bassline and keys.

Throughout the project, Vigro’s vision remains outward. The second track “Gran Turismo,” is named after the popular car racing video game, while curtain closer “Desperado,” lifts its name from the Antonio Banderas 1995-released Western blockbuster, and also references the melody of “Alma de Guitarra,” which the movie star infamously debuts during the opening scene of the action-packed film. In the boldly-titled “Petori to Ibiza,” the masterful producer invites vocalist M.J to manifest and verbalise his aspiration of playing at the world’s most desired nightclub destination hotspot on wax. “Pitori to Ibiza, re tsena ka Sgida,” M.J expresses in the track's refrain.

Vigro often shares how an encounter with Skrillex in a London studio made him fine-tune his current style. “I explained to him where I wanted to go, and he understood and told me I had to change this and that. He told me that he knew what I wanted and that I should just be me. ‘If you wanna mix it with dubstep, do you, be you,’” he revealed.

It’s clear that Vigro Deep is equally radical and intentional with his newest stylistic approach. He has willingly chosen to make Amapiano which leans towards the sonics of global electronic dance music because that’s the space he's been playing in and wants to pursue further. He is a well-traveled DJ/producer that soaks up the different sounds of the countries and places he frequents like the UK or the Netherlands. Vigro creates from an adventurous place of no restriction or consideration of what his peers are currently doing. He has pushed himself artistically to unfamiliar terrains, and exists in his own world but is kind enough to let listeners in from time to time. As YouTube user @nyati86 commented under one of his live-recorded DJ sets, “Vigro deserves a set at Tomorrowland and gigs in Ibiza… this is the bridge for Amapiano to the world.”

News Brief
(Youtube)

Asake Kicks Off His Year With New Single 'Yoga'

The Nigerian superstar shares his first single of 2023.


Ahmed Ololade Asake, popularly known as Asake, drops a new single for 2023 called "Yoga." The "Mr. Money" crooner shared the single along with a vibrant music video which depicts a deep, spirited, message that is expertly interwoven into the the song, and is primarily sung in the Yoruba language. According to Asake, the song is about peace and zen.

“The song is about minding my business and guarding my peace so no one can disrupt it,” says Asake. The Nigerian artist, who has consistently been releasing hits ever since he became a mainstream sensation, took to social media in the early hours of January 30th, 2023, shared a snippet of the new record with his followers.

The music video, which was directed by celebrated cinematographer TG Omori, boasts of colorful imagery and was shot in Dakar, Senegal. Last year was a highly-successful year for the YBNL signee, with us claiming that 2022 Was the Year of Asake, and stating that the singer's "clear-cut domination of the year was without a doubt."

According to that previous OkayAfrica essay, the Nigerian megastar has historically drawn inspiration from street-hop sonic influencers like DaGrin, Lord Of Ajasa, and Olamide, who poured the hardships in their lives into their music. In "Yoga," Asake uses his signature sonic blend of Fuji music, merged with spiritual affirmations.

Following his debut album Mr. Money With The Vibe, Asake set the tone for a streak of musical success that has been celebrated by Okay Africa's curated music lists, including Best Nigerian Songs of 2022 and Best Afrobeats Songs of 2022.

Watch the scintillating music video for "Yoga" below.

Listen to Asake "Yoga" below

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Photo via Warner Music Group.

Burna Boy's 'Last Last' is Eligible for Platinum Certification

Burna Boy's global smash "Last Last" is set to receive yet another accolade.

Burna Boy released a global anthem when he shared "Last Last" with the world.

The song, which samples Toni Braxton’s "He Wasn’t Man Enough," quickly became the biggest hit of The African Giant's career. And, according to Chart Data, the record has now surpassed onemillion units in sales in the United States. The record is now eligible to receive a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The global superstar released "Last Last," in the summer of 2022, and it soon became one of the most memorable records off of his sixth studio album Love, Damini .

Asides from becoming a fan-favorite, the record also quickly became a global phenomenon, earning it multiple weeks on the Billboard 100, where it peaked at No. 44. This is not Burna Boy's first run at the rodeo with an RIAA certification. He also previously received a gold plaque for his 2018 smash hit 'YE,' which played a big role in helping him to amass a growing, loyal fan base.

The celebrated singer continues to make a mark both home and abroad, and in addition to his RIAA recognition, he was featured on Popcaan's latest album Greater Is He. Everything seems to be falling in line for Africa's Giant. He's also set to headline Burna Boy Afro Nation Miami, alongside Wizkid, in May.

Last year, we spoke to Chopstix about crafting the song. He told us:

“Bro, as soon as this song was done — as soon as I hit export — Burna and I had a moment where we looked at each other and we knew that we had caused trouble."

"Trouble" is an understatement.

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