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Get To Know This South African Duo's "Mandela Pop" Music

Radio 123 part of a new wave of South African bands defying all traditional rules and breaking genre boundaries.

Joburg duo Radio 123 (members Nyameko Nkondlwane and Simangaliso Mfula) just released a new EP titled Manga Manga. And oh boy, it's a treat.


The music Radio 123 make isn't easy to categorize—but who cares about labels anyway? The duo call their genre Mandela Pop, because, according to them, it's a sound that reflects the rainbow spectrum that South Africa has become.

On Manga Manga, they blend pop, jazz, funk, rock and even hip-hop. The opening song "Manga Manga," sees Mfula lay vocals over Nkondlwane's trumpet and 808 snares, before live robust drumming takes over changing the song's tempo.

"Manga Manga" is definitive Radio 123, in that you never know what to expect from the duo. Their music is a tapestry of various sounds both modern and nostalgic, and they have a way of blending all these influences into one solid sound that neither sounds forced nor scattered.

For instance, the EP's lead single, "Thando," is equally indebted to Outkast as it is to funk and drum & bass. It's colorful—the perfect soundtrack to the summer.

Lyrically, Manga Manga is easy on the ear, and gets humorous at times. The aptly titled "Thando" talks about how everyone needs love, and shows gratitude to our loved ones.

If you are educated enough to understand IsiZulu and kasi slang, you'll sure get a full experience of what Radio 123 are about—celebrating who they are without defining it or caring if you understand it. What's entertaining is they sound like they are having fun, and that will be propagated to the listener.

Radio 123 is part of the new wave of South African bands who are defying all traditional rules and aren't bounded by genre.

Listen to Manga Manga below, and download it here.

Follow Radio 123 on Facebook and Twitter.

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Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images.

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