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Spoek Mathambo On Segregation In South Africa's House Scene

Spoek Mathambo sits down with Boiler Room's Thristian bPm to talk about segregation in the South African house scene, the optimism among SA youth and being an ambassador on the international stage


After the Studio Africa London launch, Okayafrica favourite and one of Joburg's finest Spoek Mathambo sat down with the Boiler Room's Thristian bPm for i-D magazine. As well as talking about the influence Chicago House and UK Garage on South African kwaito he surprises a slightly apprehensive Thristian by revealing that he's comfortable with being received as an ambassador for South African music, explaining that he uses the international stage (like his Studio Africa/Boiler Room set) to rep South Africa. Spoek also touches on some socio-political issues including the enduring segregation of South Africa’s house music scene; the optimism he feels as a young South African and why he decided to stop emulating US and European music styles. Check out some quotes and the video itself below and, for a throwback, click through to the Okayafrica TV interview.

On the class & racial segregation in SA's house scene:

"There's the drama even with the house scene: is it commercial house, is it deep house and [if you're] fancy, sophisticated and upwardly mobile it's cool to like deep house, and then there's the ghetto house of Pretoria and whatnot." [...] South Africa's so ridiculous about race that we have a whole race for people that are mixed race: and that's a thing, coloured people are a [separate] thing.

"And the way music will relate to it is that they'll say: well this is house music for coloured people, house music for white people, house music for Indian kids, house music for black kids. But I am excited for the breakdown, where influences can just spread and everybody can just enjoy the same stuff....But within South Africa, loving and appreciating the same stuff, which doesn't happen yet"

Audio
Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

How Davido's 'FEM' Became the Unlikely #EndSARS Protest Anthem

When Nigerian youth shout the line "Why everybody come dey para, para, para, para for me" at protests, it is an act of collective rebellion and rage, giving flight to our anger against the police officers that profile young people, the bureaucracy that enables them, and a government that appears lethargic.

Some songs demand widespread attention from the first moments they unfurl themselves on the world. Such music are the type to jerk at people's reserves, wearing down defenses with an omnipresent footprint at all the places where music can be shared and enjoyed, in private or in communion; doubly so in the middle of an uncommonly hot year and the forced distancing of an aggressive pandemic that has altered the dynamics of living itself. Davido's "FEM" has never pretended to not be this sort of song. From the first day of its release, it has reveled in its existence as the type of music to escape to when the overbearing isolation of lockdown presses too heavily. An exorcism of ennui, a sing-along, or a party starter, "FEM" was made to fit whatever you wanted it to be.

However, in the weeks since its release, the song has come to serve another purpose altogether. As young Nigerians have poured out into the streets across the country to protest against the brutality of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, "FEM" has kept playing with the vigour of a generational protest anthem. From Lagos to Abia to Benin and Abuja, video clips have flooded the Internet of people singing word-for-word to Davido's summer jam as they engage in peaceful protests. In one video, recorded at Alausa, outside the Lagos State Government House, youths break into an impromptu rendition of the song when the governor of the state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, tried addressing them; chants of "O boy you don dey talk too much" rent through the air, serving as proof of their dissatisfaction with his response to their demands—and the extortionist status quo.

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