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The Underground Goes Commercial

Khethi, Rudeboy Paul’s, the mudaland funk, Tumi and The Volume, Lebo Mashile, Zubz, Simphiwe Dana, Neo Muyanga and Godessa. Bheki Mseleku, The intellectual-young-black-fist-in-the-air, self-actualising type is now on the platform, and needs to be heard. But there is no doubt in my mind that the emotional-young-black-heart-on-my –sleeve, self-realising type is on the rise. When the stage is set, they too will be heard. Mzantsi music

The evolution of Mzantsi music has almost been in synch with breathing in the last 10 years. With all the public outrage expressed in the late ‘90s about the “filthy and sparse” lyrical content and lack of musicality that appealed to the youth, it was almost unimaginable that we would someday give birth to the mentally stimulating and musically laced offerings that seem to pop out periodically from the likes of Tumi and The Volume, Lebo Mashile, Zubz, Simphiwe Dana, Neo Muyanga and Godessa.

Though this turning point in our homegrown music is fast gaining momentum now, it’s interesting that the conscious movement is not a new phenomenon, sparked out of nothingness. Even in the days of Ilife ifana namadice, which could arguably be defended intellectually as “an intense study of the unpredictability of life”, it lacked enough articulation to sustain it through one generation. Even then, there was an underground buzz that threatened to explode if restrained for any longer than necessary.

It’s even more interesting to note that even though conscious musicality has been born and introduced to the commercial circuit, the pattern has not been laid to rest.

Da Underground now carries in its loins a new brees of the soulful and emotionally charged beings who, given today’s jiggy artistic appeal, can only be described as alien.

Khethi, another new breed bubbling under for a while now, a face known by most on Rudeboy Paul’s video to the Mbube Remix has completed her own debut album, entitled Xemplify. Due to unfortunate circumstances the album, which was due for release in April 2006, has still not found itsJill Scott-like-diva-ness and pure KZN home-brews, it is a sound that is unprecedented.

After a very successful campaign with the IEC, motivating young people to register to vote, Kwani Experience cemented their reputation as an on-the-rise force to be reckoned with. Although they seemed to have slipped off the public radar for a while, audiences at places like Newtown are still being blessed from time to time with their thoughtful and heart-rending offerings. Their unique sound, termed by the eight-piece band as “the mudaland funk”, has raised eyebrows and made even older generation musos like Bheki Mseleku listen.

The intellectual-young-black-fist-in-the-air, self-actualising type is now on the platform, and needs to be heard. But there is no doubt in my mind that the emotional-young-black-heart-on-my –sleeve, self-realising type is on the rise. When the stage is set, they too will be heard.
Published: 2008-06-18
Author: Tebogo Rameetse

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