Audio

This Angolan Singer Is Recreating Classic Semba Songs With a Twist

Toty Sa’Med wants to introduce a new generation to the classic sounds of semba—the prototypical genre at the heart of modern Angolan music.

Angolan singer Toty Sa’Med took on the task of introducing a new generation to the classic sounds of semba—the prototypical genre at the heart of modern Angolan music—with his first solo EP Ingombota.


The project’s title, which means “a place of refuge for the persecuted,” is named after the district in Angola’s capital, Luanda, where Sa’Med was born. The EP features both original recordings by the artist and reinterpretations of classic semba songs.

The idea to “rescue old sembas” came about after producer Kalaf Epalanga (of Buraka Som Sistema), heard Sa’Med perform some of the genre’s older cuts live. The two collaborated to produce the six soul-stirring tracks on Ingombota.

“What makes it cool to embrace the old semba is the fact that, through this, a group of young Angolans are willing to know their history, its poets, and their languages. And there's nothing cooler than knowledge,” says the musician.

Toty Sa'Med. Photo: Luaty Almeida.

The lead single, "Mona Ki Ngi Xiça," is a cover of an Angolan bolero, originally sung by Bonga. Sa’Med adds warm vocals and melodious guitar riffs to deliver a gorgeous blues and jazz-inflected rearrangement of the song. The single comes with an accompanying music video which sees the singer offering a calming performance in a stripped-down studio.

The fact that Sa’Med is recreating older semba cuts, doesn’t make his music any less refreshing.

Get familiar with the vintage sounds of Angola, through the re-imaginings of Sa’Med, and peep the music video for “Mona Ki Ngi Xiça” above.

Interview
Image supplied.

Interview: How Stogie T’s ‘Freestyle Friday’ Became a TV Show

Freestyle Friday started as lockdown content but is now a fully-fledged TV show on Channel O. In this interview, Stogie T breaks down why the show is revolutionary and talks about venturing into media.

When South Africa was put under a hard lockdown in 2020, Stogie T started Freestyle Friday to "make SA rap again." Freestyle Friday, hosted on Instagram, saw a different cohort of rappers each rap over the same beat picked by the veteran rapper. From niche and emerging rappers to some of the most notable names in South African hip-hop—the likes of AKA, Focalistic, Ginger Trill and several others all participated.

In the last few weeks, however, Freestyle Friday has found its way to cable TV. The show airs every Friday on Channel O, one of the continent's longest-running music TV channels. Freestyle Friday as a TV programme isn't just about freestyles, it's about the art of rapping and the music business, particularly SA hip-hop. Guests range from lyricists to record executives and other personalities aligned with the scene—Ninel Musson and Ms Cosmo for instance.

But Freestyle Friday is only the first media product Stogie T is working on as he is in the process of starting a podcast network, a venture in which he is collaborating with Culture Capital. In the Q&A below, Stogie T breaks down the relationship with Culture Capital, how the show moved from the internet to TV, why it's a revolutionary idea, touches on his venture into media and his future plans.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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