Subterranean Wavelength: The Key Players In Joburg’s Beat Scene + Mixtape Premiere

A look at the key players in Joburg's beat scene (Escapism Refuge, Hlasko, Hawkword, Micr.pluto, The Watermark High) + Subterranean Wavelength premiere.


Hawkword is the resonant name of groove-funk, acid jazz and post-dubstep infused hip-hop-tronica triumvirate. Together they elegantly craft intellectual feel good music condensed with pulsating gates and spattered side-chains and varnished in nu-funk and neo-soul nuances. They’ve managed to masterfully channel a diverse substratum of ideas and influences giving ground to what is some of the most technically astute electronica to come out of Africa in eons. You can’t tell whether they’re a DJ or an orchestra the special fullness of their sound is state of the art brilliance. Think SA-Ra meets Hidden Orchestra meets something else. Their freshly baked thunderous debut EP The Hawk Swoops Again released on the 3rd of October last year under the dissident On A Break Records is a indubitable must have for any respectable music library.

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Interview: 808x On Crafting Different Sounds For the Diverse Innanetwav Roster

808x, the in-house producer for South Africa's popular hip-hop collective/label Innanetwav, breaks down his working process with artists and the importance of energy.

Reflecting on the early days of Cash Money Records during a conversation with legendary New Orleans producer Mannie Fresh earlier this year, Lil Wayne said:

"When we started, record labels had one producer for the whole record label. Meaning that Mannie Fresh produced every song on every album, from the intro to the artist."

Some labels, groups and collectives still observe that tradition. It, however, takes a producer with such versatility they could be mistaken to be different personalities altogether.

Joburg-based producer 808x is a great example of that type of producer. Being the in-house producer and engineer for one of the country's most versatile collectives and contemporary hip-hop labels, Innanetwav, 808x has to craft beats that slice through the spectrum of genres with inimitable fluidity and creativity.

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