News

Mashayabhuqe KaMamba's Digital Maskandi

Listen to South Africa's Digital Maskandi founder Mashayabhuqe KaMamba's 'The Black Excellence Show' EP.


Born Ntsikelelo Christ' Ndlovu in Durban but based these days in Joburg, Digital Maskandi founder Mashayabhuqe KaMamba first dropped his six-track The Black Excellence Show EP as a free download back in September of last year. It's since then been made available on soundcloud and Audiomack. The whole EP, which took about a month to come together, was recorded at MarazA's Dionysys Recordings in Yoeville (with the exception of "Afrikvn Lordz," which was produced/recorded in Joburg CBD). Mashayabhuqe KaMamba, who cites the record's influences as "fellow Afrikvn musos the likes of Madala Kunene, Yossuf Ndou, Busi Mhlongo, Thandiswa Mazwai and Vusi Ximba," wrote almost every song on the EP (with the exception of guest verses from MarazA and 4Front). It's a solid introduction to Digital Maskandi music, Mashayabhuqe's signature blend of traditional Zulu folk (aka Maskandi) vocals with trappy, autotune-heavy Future Mzansi production. The EP was close to slipping under our radar. Luckily we caught wind of the first single "Afrikvn Lordz," recently championed and given a second push by the folks at Red Bull Studios CT. We asked The Black Excellence Show mastermind to shed some light on the song's meaning and chorus.

"So basically what I was trying to achieve with this record was to be heard, I needed to say something about my Culture, my Religion and my Background but it was a mission to accomplish that; I studied Communication Science and what I've learnt from these studies is that you need to engage with people, speak about things that they can relate to; make them feel like they're part of your struggle, your jounery. So Afrikvn Lordz encompasses those elements; Emotions, Fear of High Power, My jounery and Giving praises to Shembe *the messenger* (Whom I regard as THE AFRIKVN LORD) and what's interesting is that I didn't write the song (it came to me as form of a DREAM* I dreamt it, the melody and the gist or direction of the whole story."

"Izono zami yebo! Zaziwa nguwe baba nguwe wedwa" meaning (Only GOD knows all my sins)

We are still young and creative; We don't need confusion in our lives; this EP has opened my eyes and gave me a completely different feeling about youth of today. We're now liberated and we don't need anyone to choose things for us and that's why I get so much LOVE. They didn't judge me for doing something that has to do with Tradition/Cultures but they embraced that and made it look even way too cool.

Since introducing the world to Digital Maskandi on his latest EP, Mashayabhuqe KaMamba was behind a breakout performance at Newtown's Back to the City Festival in April and joined brotherly rappers Fratpack on their Brenda Fassie-sampling "Higher." M.K., who is a BOYZNBUCKS affiliate, linked up with Okmalumkoolkat fresh off his debut EP Holy Oxygen I. The track they recorded together, "Shandarabaa Ekhelemendeh," will drop later this year. The BOYZNBUCKS crew's UMSWENKO event is slated to take place 5th October at Zone6Venue in Soweto. Until then, listen to The Black Excellence Show in full below.

Music

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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.