Featuring DJ Cleo, Bongz, L'vovo, Shana, DJ Clock and a previously unreleased new track from DJ Mujava (Warp Records). 'Ayoba' is a catch phrase born in South Africa's townships that is used to express excitement. Right now South Africa is excited and there are shouts of 'Ayoba' everywhere: in June and July millions of football fans worldwide will be turning their eyes on the rainbow nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. If you are looking for a soundtrack to the World Cup that captures the vibe of South Africa's youth culture then look no further than 'Ayobaness! - The Sound of South African House', the first and ultimate introduction to the vibrant house music scene of South Africa featuring the latest club tunes, the biggest and most influential artists as well as names currently buzzing on the underground. South African DJs started playing Chicago house in the 80s and were selling mixes out of their car boots. By the time apartheid finally came to an end in 1994, the South African township youths had created their own club music called kwaito. In the early days, kwaito was not much more than slowed-down house beats overlain with raps in Zulu, Xhosa and broken township English. Soon kwaito became the soundtrack for celebrating a free South Africa and catalysed the rebirth of a new black entertainment industry. Even throughout the kwaito boom, house music was always around. DJs started to fuse and produce their own local version adding uniquely South African sounds from kwaito vibes, Zulu Mbaqanga basslines to Hugh Masekela samples, and local house duos like Revolution or BOP were instant chart breakers. With the kwaito craze somewhat fading in recent years, house has again taken the lead as SA's number 1 party music and the heartbeat of urban SA music. Today South Africa is the only country on the continent that has its unique local house culture. It is also the only country in Africa where kids dream of being a DJ or a producer - not a singer.
South African house captured the world's attention a couple of years back when Township Funk by DJ Mujava, a producer from the Pretoria township of Atteridgeville, became a breakout hit. A cut of lithe bleep house with a video that pictured the kids of Pretoria–Mujava included–busting breakdance moves on street corners, it picked up a global release on Warp Records and was hailed as "one of the biggest global dance hits of the last year" in the New York Times.
Ayobaness!, the first major collection of South African house, reveals that while the scene is not all cast from Township Funk's starkly minimal, Afro-futuristic mould, it is certainly a regional offshoot with its own distinct character. House first emerged from the streets of Johannesburg in the form of Kwaito, four-to-the-floor rhythms slowed and crossbred with rap and African hip hop. Ayobaness!, however, suggests that South African producers have responded to international attention by cleaning up their sound slightly, building a percussive, distinctly African house hybrid that's nonetheless flexible enough to slot into any internationally-minded DJ's set.
It is, much like its distant cousin UK funky, a party music, packed with rattling percussion and group sing-alongs. The album's title-track, by one Pastor Mbhobho–a performer who wears a wig and priest's dress–is thumping house with thick 80s synths, jazzy keyboard runs and a rabble of kids singing the chorus, while Mujava's Mugwanti/Sgwejegweje matches booming sub-bass with enough percussion to equip a mid-sized carnival.
Fun, but when not full-on, the music explores some more interesting, original areas. DJ Sumthyn's Wena is a fairly robust cut of minimal house bathed in cold synths, poetess Ntsiki Mazwai offering a stern spoken-word narration lashing out at a cheating man. Aero Manyelo's Mexican Girl, meanwhile, mixes tense deep house with a swinging bassline apparently influenced by Mbaqanga, a traditional Zulu guitar style. That won't, of course, be evident to most of the clubbers that get sweaty to it–but it does make for a local variation that stands out on its own in the bustling global village that is 21st century dance music. --Louis Pattison
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window