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Mawimbi Collective's Club Music Blends 'Ghetto House' & Modern Highlife

Paris-based collective Mawimbi premiere their 9-track debut album, a collection of ghetto house and modern highlife-influenced club tracks.


Cover design by Clément Vincent / Viatic

Paris-based collective and nascent label Mawimbi is dropping their self-titled debut album this month, a compilation of 9 solid tracks that reflect their diverse and unique take on African-influenced club music. For the past two years, the Mawimbi DJs and producers have made a name for themselves by breathing new life into France’s club scene with their infectious grooves. The collective's music navigates between genres and eras in an unconventional way, seamlessly blending ghetto house, modern highlife and shamanic techno into their own dance strain. Collaborations with innovative artists such as South Africa’s Mo Laudi and DJ Shimza, Berlin’s Africaine 808, London afro-bass prodigies The Busy Twist & Drumtalk, and afro-house big shot Jose Marquez have helped shape their sonic identity.

There's a number of tracks that stand out in Mawimbi's debut full-length. The opening song "Ketjak," by Parisian producer Loâzo, features a deep downtempo beat built around a koto loop that gradually picks up in intensity, leading to a faster climax with its shouting vocals and distorted techno drum patterns. "Kejtak" is probably the release’s edgiest track, somewhat reminiscent of débruit’s superbly original work. "More Sekele Movement" takes a trip back to the future — a classic Cameroonian 'sekele' disco stomper aptly remixed by Vulkandance residents Africaine 808, who master the art of balancing respect for the original while infusing their own contemporary club touch.

The highly-percussive "Mo Fiya," by prolific afro-latin duo Umoja, keeps it lively on the drum front and features a repetitive vocal sample that gives the track its name. "Sogoni Kalimba" is a deep journey into the healing tones of the kalimba by 10 Foot Ballerina, an Atlanta-via-Detroit-via-Berlin native now studying music in Windhoek, Namibia. Jenovah's "Afrikaan Beat 2.0" isn't your typical afro-house track, drawing instead from UK bass, driven by strong afrobeat drum patterns and ghetto house chopped-up vocals — all deeply energetic sounds for the dancefloor. Meanwhile, Amsterdam electro-afrobeat band Umeme Afrorave's "Agama" is a catchy tune with heavy synthesizer sounds, kalimba melodies and aerial vocals. Don't sleep on their upcoming album to be released next month on the Mawimbi label.

Stream our exclusive of Mawimbi's debut album above, before its official April 27 release on Mawimbi’s bandcamp. The album is backed by a 4-track EP being pressed on limited edition 12" vinyl.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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