100 World Class South Africans: Spoek Mathambo

2013-08-23 12:00

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African new-wave

With his Buddy Holly glasses, buttoned shirt and neat hair, Spoek Mathambo radiates a kind of cocksure peacefulness, with the gravitas of a cool Malcolm X.

Mathambo is really Nthato Mokgata; his nom de plume is taken from the sitcom Emzini Wezinsizwa, about five migrant workers in a township hostel.

While his name is an inside joke, Mathambo is surreptitiously reconstituting the splintered languages of pop and politics to put his own stamp on music.

His path to fame goes something like this: dropping out of medical school to study visual communication, collaborating with electro artists (Markus Wormstorm, Sibot and Waddy Jones – Ninja of Die Antwoord), then recording his debut, Mshini Wam, in 2010.

It achieved cult status, forging a newfangled ‘dark-wave township house’.

He signed a deal with legendary Seattle record label Sub Pop and the resulting Father Creeper was Mojo magazine’s best urban album of 2012; he’s also been nominated twice for a Mobo (Music of Black Origin) award. He is now making a documentary about electronic music in SA.

His latest compilation album, The Future Sound of Mzansi, says it all: here is a man defining a unique and hard-hitting sound for the next generation.

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