Audio

First Listen: Sam Turpin’s ‘4am In Jozi’ Is A Soundtrack For Johannesburg Nightlife

'4am In Jozi'’s mood will make you feel like it’s early morning or late night in the cold streets of Johannesburg.

South African rapper Sam Turpin uses feel to tell a story.


The production on his latest mixtape project, which he is responsible for, is moody—the beats are minimal and consist of warm pads, eerie keys, and vinyl crackles.

Called 4am In Jozi, the mixtape’s mood will make you feel like it’s early morning or late night in the cold streets of Johannesburg, and that’s what the rapper was going for.

“As many who live [in Johannesburg] know, the city transforms at night and becomes another world. I moved to central Jozi just under two years ago from the nearby suburb of Emmarentia where I grew up, and almost immediately my concept of time changed. The city really never sleeps and it's both good and bad. I would wake up at 4am, look out my window and seeing the lights and the people I'd be inspired to make a beat.”

The rapper’s lyrics can be a bit abstract, and he’s also aware of that. “I can hope that what people get from it are an audile feel of the night time landscape through the beats, both comforting and disquieting, and that they can relate somehow to either the personal or the social context of the lyrics,” he says. “The lyrics are quite abstract but if they can contribute somehow to people's conception of being young in Johannesburg, that would only be a bonus.”

4am In Jozi took two years to make, and consists of mostly solo songs, with only two features from up-and-coming South African singer Langa Mavuso and Ghanaian rapper Yaw P.

Turpin will be performing the mixtape in its entirety on the 17th of August at the Kalashnikovv Gallery in Johannesburg.

Stream our premiere of 4am In Jozi below, and buy it on iTunes. Follow Sam Turpin on Twitter and Facebook.

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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