Music Brief
Still from Djembe Monks

Djembe Monks' new single "Nhliziyo Yam'" is a fusion of djembe drums, techno and deep house.

Listen to Djembe Monks' New House Single 'Nhliziyo Yam' Featuring Thandy Dhlana

Zimbabwean afro-house collective Djembe Monks' latest single, featuring Thandy Dhlana, is a soothing tribal house dance track (perfect for the heartbroken).

Zimbabwean drumming collective Djembe Monks have returned with a new, grounded house single "Nhliziyo Yam", with vocals from the melodic Thandy Dhlana who also co-wrote the song. This follows their resoundingly successful single "Rainmaker" that dropped in August 2020. "Nhliziyo Yam'" is a fusion of djembe drums, techno and deep house which reminds us to guard our hearts after experiencing a spate of heartbreaks.

The track carries elevating piano keys that create a spirit-sweeping effect. Staying true to their form, Djembe Monks' distinct tribal sound resonates with both dance-floor regulars and fans of alternative, yet modern African music. Thandy Dhlana's lyrics convey a heavy-laden heartsore message in which she forewarns love interests from encroaching upon her heart. All music fans, even those new to Djembe Monks' sound, will fall for the track instantly.

The collective is invested in creating music that calls people to gather, dance and celebrate. Their 2020 single "Rainmaker" was later accompanied by amazing visuals and choreography depicting the traditional rain dance ritual by the BaKalanga people of North Eastern Zimbabwe. The track, released in the midst of the global pandemic, pointed to water scarcity as another pandemic. Message wise, "Nhliziyo Yam'" verges on a different tangent , yet maintains Djembe Monks' ethos to remember self, to return to the soil and free movement, as shared in an interview with Eventive.

"We love travelling and dancing. Dancing is one of our favourite things. When on the dance floor we are free. It's our way of motion meditation. The dance-floor is our church, really. It makes us happy... Our sessions gather people together in a musical ritual of pure, unadulterated foot-stomping, graceless dancing, if you will, maybe without art or skill but most certainly with some enjoyment!

Djembe Monks have been around since 2010. The trio thrives on concerts and joy shared between people. They have performed at various music festivals, including the Victoria Falls Carnival, Intwasa Festival KoBulawayo, HIFA and Shoko Festival which have since been halted in light of the pandemic.

Djembe Monk's last album release was their 2015 EP Bang The Drum EP, which came after Deep Love Drums, released in 2013. We're crossing our fingers that there's a full album in the works.

Listen to "Nhliziyo Yam'" on Spotify.

Listen to "Nhliziyo Yam'" on Apple Music.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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