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Spoek Mathambo's Brilliant Pegasus Warning Rework Resurfaces with Gorgeous Dance Video

Spoek Mathambo, DJ Spoko and DJ Mujava’s "The Mountain" is the first release off Spoek's new project, The Mzansi Beat Code.

“The Mountain,” Spoek Mathambo, DJ Spoko and DJ Mujava’s brilliant rework of a song by the Los Angeles-based cosmic soul-man Pegasus Warning, is simply magical. I first wrote about it back in April 2014 when Spoek shared it as a one-off drop (prior to that he teased it in a March 2013 Boiler Room set). To my dismay the song was pulled from Spoek’s ever-evolving treasure chest of a Souncloud page. The last time I’d heard it was actually on the silver screen during a NY African Film Festival screening of the 2014 South African noir cop thriller Cold Harbour, which Spoek did the score for.


Thankfully, the magnificent lost song reemerged this week. This time for good. It features on Spoek’s just-released Badimo EP, and it’s the first release to come to light from his forthcoming solo project, The Mzansi Beat Code. A gorgeous black and white video has also surfaced. The visuals, shot in Khayelitsha with Spoek and his recent collaborator Chris Kets at the helm, express how the South African rapper/producer interpreted Pegasus Warning's lyrics.

In an email to Okayafrica, Spoek shed some light on the mystery that is “The Mountain”:

“Firstly I'd like to say that it's been years since we made this version of the The Mountain...and I've always been determined to make a beautiful poetic, black and white video, expressing the resilience, tenacity and vibrancy of township youth culture.

It all started when I toured with Pegasus Warning in USA in 2011/12...I was told about this incredible NYC based drummer, and I had no idea of his musical roots or how badass he is as a vocalist and producer. On the tour he was playing drums, me on sampler and a friend from Sweden on guitar. It was about 12 shows across the country and every time we played the Spoek Mathambo set, Pegasus Warning would sing and perform his wonderful songs as an opening set. He would always set the stage alight. The Mountain was always such a powerful and poignant moment in his show. At the end of the tour I asked him if I could remix the song when I was back in South Africa.

I started working on the remix for a nightclub scene for a film I was scoring on Cold Harbour, laying down rhythm elements and the synth work (hugely influenced by Spoko and Mujava who I hadn't yet met)...at the same time, I was was working on my documentary Future Sound of Mzansi...On the great day that I was to meet Mujava and Spoko in Atteridgeville for the first time, we got along and decided to work on a track together...I pulled out the separates of the remix I was working on and we made the song...the actual time spent making the track is documented in Future Sound of Mzansi as a scene with The Mountain playing.”

The Badimo EP is the first in a trilogy of Spoek’s upcoming releases titled The Mzansi Beat Code. Still to come are the Mzansi Beat Code LP in October 2016––Spoek’s first solo LP since 2012’s Father Creeper––and the Toro EP in early 2017. But knowing the Fantasma/Batuk orchestrator there should be plenty of surprises in between.

The Badimo EP is out now.

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.

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