Poptartology: Kwaito is dead, long live kwaito!

2013-11-03 06:00

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Don’t shoot your chanas!

People are not nice and the internet is there to prove it.

It would be wrong to joke about funerals, innocent children, Disney princesses and rappers being shot by the police, but too late.

When the cops opened fire on Khuli Chana by mistake – thinking he was a police officer who moonlights as a kidnapper – the now-famous rapper trended all week. And the gags began to appear online 

The most popular of them was this witty spoof of a Hunter’s Cider ad spread by the satirical account @SABCtoo.


Tumblr this week was also specially cruel. It offers a gallery of vain little Americans taking selfies at funerals.

As in: “Cried off all my make-up so ew. But funeral.”


Pic: Selfies at Funerals

And no, this child has not turned into a werewolf, it’s just a hilarious photo from Buzzfeed’s listicle of photos taken at freaky angles.


Pic: Buzzfeed

Of course, feminists bashing Disney princesses is pretty much par for the course.


Pic: feministdisney.tumblr.com

My favourite Disney critique of the week was this one, though: If Disney princesses had normal-size eyes.

Gif: Walt Disney Pictures

Gif: Buzzfeed/Walt Disney Pictures

Poptart of the week: Rangoato Hlasane (Kwaito’s family tree)

Now that you’re vaguely bemused, it’s time to get serious. After all, pop culture is not all police brutality and angry animation.

I was alerted to this amazing poptart lecture thing of the week on the social nutworks. It was delivered a month ago by DJ, visual artist and illustrator Rangoato Hlasane.

His gentle, insightful alternative history of kwaito is called South African Kwaito of Connectivity and was presented at the After Year Zero Conference in Berlin, Germany.

You can listen to the whole thing here.

Or you can take in this handy recap ...

Hlasane takes on the dominant narratives that have been developed to explain the kwaito phenomenon that erupted on the youth culture scene with the advent of democracy, going on to establish a major market force.

Usually, the history of kwaito is offered as a tale of rebellion and vulgarity, or as a story of a musical form that slowed down Chicago House music and added local-language rap to it.

The latest narrative, of course, is that 20 years after Boom Shaka, Arthur, Alaska, Bongo Maffin, TKZee and Trompies erupted on to the scene, kwaito is dead.

If kwaito is dead, argues Hlasane, then so are pantsula styles and so is tsotsitaal. And, for that matter, so is Mafikizolo.


Course, we all know they’re very much still with us. Khona is track of the year so far and has spread across the rest of Africa, making Mafikizolo more alive than ever before.

That’s because kwaito is not just music, it’s part of a grander trend that Hlasane traces back to the 1930s (interestingly, via Phillip Thabane’s malombo styles) and forward to the future of South African House music.

In his lecture, he shares this “family tree of narrative” that is wound together with exile and immigration, passing through Sophiatown and marabi, and tracking how tsotsitaal developed and, like pantsula, found a home in kwaito as it peaked in the 1990s.

Instead of vulgar language and slowed-down House, he discusses these roots in relation to Boom Shaka’s Makwere as pro-immigration (even though at the time people thought they were saying the opposite) and Bongo Maffin as black consciousness.

It’s a delicious theory that invests the youth movement with much more than just a township rebellion, but also a site of self-worth, cultural belonging and Africanist ideals.

He cites Simphiwe Dana on the comfort of the mother tongue and traces the rise of Afro-pop and Afro-House as they flowed from kwaito, just as it flowed from malombo and marabi.

Then Hlasane returns to Mafikizolo, and it’s fascinating. They started out as the epitome of kwaito stars.

But, says Hlasane: “Mafikizolo’s first album didn’t make it. The second album didn’t make it. The third album made it. And you know why? Because their hit track was Housey ... Lotto. Not only that but Louis Vega from New York loved it and played it ...”


Only when they left the kwaito aesthetic could they make it. But then, of course, they began to reference Sophiatown and with it an intergenerational dialogue with Dorothy Masuka and Hugh Masekela, and became the darlings of Afro-pop. Ironically, Khona has seen them tap House again to rise for a third time.

It is this ebb and flow and this conversation between the genres and eras that sees kwaito live on.

In case you need any further proof, look at the video for Inxeba Lendoda released just a week ago by Character, featuring Oskido and Mono-T.


What were they thinking!?

There’s no polite way of putting this, really. The latest temple of worship built by the Christian Science Society in America looks like a giant penis.


And it gets worse! News has just broken that a new musical will tell the story of Jesus Christ by way of the songs of Britney Spears. No, it’s not April 1. Spears The Musical: The Gospel According To Britney is currently being developed for the stage.

Cheer up

If that has left you upset, the internet can help with that. Here is an emergency compliment generator that will perk you right up .


Pic: Emergency Compliment


Pic: Emergency Compliment

And, of course, my own personal favourite:


Pic: Emergency Compliment

The good news just keeps rolling in…

Mi Casa’s Jika is number one on MTV’s inaugural Official SA Top 10 chart, and Mdu Comics has released the hilarious and insane Unhappy Husband 3


In Japan, there is a travel agency for your stuffed animals to enjoy a holiday.

A South African – Tumisho Masha – finally gets to play Nelson Mandela in a movie! It’s called Mandela’s Gun.

And Gaga has appeared in public as a giant chicken nugget.


Pic: Buzzfeed

Edgy angel

We’ve been waiting for ages for the brilliant young vocalist Nakhane Touré to drop his first official music video on the interwebs and the moment arrived early yesterday morning.

Here’s the video for Fog, as beautiful as it is unsettling and as lyrical as it is blunt. The brother’s an angel with an edge.


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