Sjava. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.
Sjava Says Future and Young Thug's Music Has Zulu Melodies, And He’s Right
South African ATM (African Trap Music) artist Sjava's appearance on Black Panther The Album is one for the books. Through it, he introduces the ATM subgenre to the world. So does his Ambitiouz Entertainment labelmate Saudi on the song "X," featuring ScHoolboy Q and 2 Chainz, on the same album.
Sjava's music is trap but it draws influences from many South African genres like maskandi, mbhaqanga and traditional gospel, among others.
Speaking to Ebro on his Beats 1 show last week, Sjava said when he first heard trap music in 2013, it sounded familiar.
"When I listened to trap," he says, "I felt like I'd heard this before. I've heard these melodies all my life. It's just that now they are in English. When I heard trap, the melodies to me were too traditional. Because at the end of the day, we are all from Africa, it's just that they are overseas and all of that. Somewhere somehow, we are still linked within the music."
Ebro then asked the artist what trap song he feels is the most African, to which Sjava answered:
"Young Thug's 'Wyclef Jean.' On the hook, the way he did, that's straight up… there's a church, it's called Zion church, they are very good when it comes to music, the churches even have albums, very musical, Zion churches are very musical.
"So I think Future and Young Thug, they are the ones that have the melodies that I'm talking about, they are very African and very Zulu."
Listening to that Young Thug song again, Sjava has a point. The drawls and dilatory melodies do resemble those of the Zion church's music. Future's the same.
Listen to the whole interview here and revisit Sjava's gold-certified masterpiece Isina Muva below.