Music

Our Favorite Gqom Songs of 2017

Gqom took South Africa by storm in 2017.

2017 is the year that gqom got to really shine in South Africa.

The house sub-genre that was created in the low income hoods of Durban had been getting love mostly in Europe (and, yes, we are aware of the politics behind that). But this year, the genre got mainstream recognition with the success of Distruction Boyz, and of course Babes Wodumo, among others.

Artists like DJ Tira and DJ Maphorisa are gravitating towards the rhythm-driven sub-genre. Again, we are aware of the politics involved there, but that's a story for another day.

There are a lot of gqom artists who pack serious heat, but aren't under the mainstream spotlight. So a best gqom songs list is never perfect. But these are the gqom songs that fell on our radar this year, and moved us.


The list is in no particular order.

Distruction Boyz "Omunye" feat. Benny Maverick and Dladla Mshunqisi

"Omunye" is the perfect song to lose morals to—an infectious beat carries the track and the sexual innuendo on the hook makes it even lovelier.

DJ Maphorisa "Midnight Starring" feat DJ Tira, Busiswa and Moonchild

Busiswa is not intimidated by a damn thing, she's the "starring," as she says with such authority on the hook that we can't help but believe her. Moonchild's toddler-like innocent voice adds more personality to "Midnight Starring." And what more than DJ Tira's adlibs to make the song a gqom masterpiece?

Sho Madjozi & PS DJZ "Dumi Hi Phone"

Rapper Sho Madjozi flexes some Tsonga rhymes over a hipnotic gqom beat by PS DJZ. If you like your gqom with more lyrics than usual, "Dumi Hi Phone," is your early Christmas present.

Killer Kau "Tholukuthi Hey" feat. Mbali

"Tholukuthi Hey" was a hit before it was even recorded. Killer Kau's deep vocal projection gave South Africans a catch phrase which took many forms, and even became a meme. If not for it being a great song, then maybe love it for its massive impact.

DJ Sandiso "Isam-Qeh" feat Okmalumkoolkat and Amadando

"Isam-Qeh" is more stacked that the ordinary gqom song, which is normally minimalist. You hear keys and synths of different tones under Amadando's vocals. And, add an OkMalumKoolKat verse to spice it up. The music video is amazing, too.

Tipcee "iScathulo" feat. Busiswa, DJ Tira & Distruction Boyz

Busiswa's hook is addictive because it sounds like a game from our childhood days. A song that encourages you to do the vosho always works.

Busiswa "Bazoyenza" feat. DJ Maphorisa

Busiswa and DJ Maphorisa can do no wrong. Busiswa's kwaito-esque delivery never gets old, and puts her in a league of her own. "Bazoyenza" is another instance where she excels.

Rudeboyz "Yebo" feat. TDK Macassette

Rudeboyz are among the pioneers of gqom, and they haven't lost it. A sharp synth recurs over hard-hitting drums to add another banger to their already full arsenal.

Babes Wodumo "Ganda Ganda" feat. Mampintsha and Madanon

The self-crowned Queen of Gqom proves she's capable of making hits over and over again with "Ganda Ganda." And what's impressive is she didn't try recreating another "Wololo."

FAKA "Uyang'khumbula"

The duo FAKA experimented with gqom for their single "Uyang'khumbula" It's the nonchalant baritone kwaito vocals over typical gqom synths and drums, that make "Uyang'khumbula" stand out.

Audio
(Youtube)

7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

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