Saturday, 6 September 2014

Joburg House Music - My 7 Top Tracks You Should Know #Issue1

Before I moved to Johannesburg I was pretty ignorant of quite a few things. Like I didn't know what a tokoloshe was and I wasn't sure what was in the 'monkeygland sauce' (not monkey of course, but still, I wasn't sure). I wasn't a pro on craft beer and I'd never tasted pinotage before. Klipdrift I assumed was a place not a brandy and markets I had always thought were rough and ready places to bargain with traders over the veggies, not fashionable joints to hang out and try gourmet street food at the weekend...

But, worse than all that, the biggest thing I  didn't know about life here was what a huge deal house music is in South Africa. And I mean, really, really huge. Joburg is pretty much at the centre of the South African house music scene and quite frankly house music in South Africa is some of the best in the world right now. Blasting from the cars and getting every party bouncing, house is the sound of the city. Joburg moves, grooves, sasses and defines itself with these rhythms and whatever your class, race, creed or nationality, all are present and welcome in this scene.

Now, even though I probably over-dance to it and consequently look like a dork, I just really love my house music, South African or not. I've tried to keep a track of what's coming out that's cool and my kind of sound ever since I first switched on the radio here and realised everything I was listening to was awesome local produce. And so, a year and half into my new life in South Africa, I present to you (in no particular order) the 7 South African house tracks that you really should know about. 

Here's your playlist:

Let's start with an absolute stormer to get you in the right mood. Producer and DJ Heavy K is also known as the Drumboss, which tells you most of what you need to know. The man gets around and his name is on all kinds of hit remixes and his instrumentals are always something else. This tune was an instant killer from the very first time I heard it coming out of some cafe. And that lady, man she is just SO fierce, love her and love this track. Sing it people - weeeeeeeeeeena!

Mixing a latino and soul edge with smooth house beats and pop sensibility, these Jozi boys are the popular house sound of this city. Everywhere you go, they're either performing live or they're playing on the stereo. Their biggest hit Jika had some incredible radio airtime and even sprouted its own dance move. We've all listened to Jika rather a little too much in the last months, but it's still a definitive sound of Joburg for me so I had to put it on the list - and even just listening to it again now I'm dying to go and chill at some house party. To quote some random from youtube "With this song I feel like I can dance....but I cant, it just makes you wanna dance". I am also totally in love with their latter single Turn you on – so addictive and sexy in just the right kind of classy way. Study the video, learn the simple dance moves and everyone's your friend!

The south Joburg based DJ is a house music king and just keeps putting out hits. You cannot but go crazy for this song, it's catchy, simple and has an ever so sweet little pop tinge to it. Crank it up loud, feel good and dance my friends, there's always a time and place for this kind of song. And what a relief to not have a female vocalist who is not prancing in her bikini all over the video hey? Yup, that's another reason why SA house is cool, the women are being themselves.

Definitely more on the indie-pop side of house music, not sure if this is still even proper house aside from the DJ title on the track...but you know what? That's fine with me. It's upbeat, easy-going and summery. Perfect for a chilled-out sunny Joburg afternoon. 

Mafikozolo are a South African super-group. They formed in the early 1990s and have been chart-toppers for years and despite one of the trio having sadly been murdered in 2004, they've managed to keep on going, making distinctively South African music that the people love and which brings the house down. Their music tends to be a blend of afro-pop and kwaito beats, but with this track they went full on deep house on us. Note the dancing in the video, that's how SA house music makes you move, whoever you are. Random youtube lady was right.

Time to introduce Bucie, the Princess of House. Her voice has that rhythm and special edge that just puts you in a place. She's worked with everyone and there's really a lot to choose from, but this is arguably her biggest hit. I've no idea what she says in the hook there (still ignorant foreigner in some things) before 'your so easy to love', but I'll keep pretending to lip synch to it anyway. Note to club fans, the place she leaves at the end of the video is Sway in Sandton!

DJ and music producer, Black Coffee is one of SA's superstar DJs. He keeps the party going on and on and if he's on the decks, well hot damn - you must be at the right kind of party! Usually, being such a big name he's more likely to be playing a festival than a club. If you've made it this far through my playlist, you should be ready for this one. It's not so instantly poptastic dance fest, more a track to remind you that house music can be mellow too. Keeping it real soft, dark and deep this track has a slightly speedier rhythm to it, perfect for those long night drives...and then there's that subtle vocal running through it. Altogether hypnotic.


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