Ngiyakuhalalisela to the loyal listeners of the Dance Megamix! You passed the century mark!

This is the very, very, VERY special 100th episode of the podcast, featuring the rarest dance grooves from South Africa.

I began collecting this type of music in 2009 in advance to my epic journey to the World Cup, after I first heard an amazing disco boogie track called “Party” by Harari on a random DJ mix. It was a revelation. The music did not sound like the South African township music that I was familiar with, or for that matter any other “traditionally African” music that one would find in the World Music section at a Tower Records in the 90’s. This was a very heavy, funky Western sound that fit right in with my extensive collection of American disco and funk records.

I quickly became obsessed with this band when I found out that they were South African, and did all of the research I could to figure out if there was a connection between this group and the current phenomenon of house music dominating South African culture. It turns out, I was pretty lucky in how I stumbled upon this genre. Harari is not only an amazing band with a tremendous discography (spanning from Township Soul to Afro Rock to Disco), but they were also responsible for launching a sprawling talent tree of musicians who presided over the local music scene for decades. Max Mojapelo, a key South African radio deejay during that time, actually begins his oral history of South African music with Harari and lets the story of local music branch out from there. I was incredibly lucky to have started my musical exploration into South African music in exactly this way, just by pure dumb luck on my part.

For years, the Western-style rock, disco, funk, soul, and house music of South Africa in the 1970s-1990s was largely unknown outside of the continent. A lot of this popular music from the 80’s was assigned the genre “bubblegum,” which was to say that it was seen as disposable, and not taken very seriously by local critics, despite its popularity. But the lightness of its appearance gave bubblegum music the wiggle room to subtly advocate for urbanization, unity among tribes, and human rights. Apartheid not only contributed to the subversive way that this music was composed, recorded, and censored, but also limited its distribution beyond South Africa. Once the vinyl pressing plants in South Africa and Zimbabwe closed in the late 90’s and the music scene had moved on to kwaito and global hip hop, the previous generation’s music began disappearing not only stylistically, but physically as well. Many of the key musicians from this era had sadly passed away already, which made documenting the scene even more difficult. A whole era of music was on the brink of literally vanishing. Apart from Harari, who briefly toured the US, and the few big-name exiles (Hugh Masekela, Letta Mbulu, Margaret Singana, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Sathima Bea Benjamin), very few people outside of South Africa even knew that this music existed.

Sometime around 2008, with internet usage in South Africa starting to take larger hold, some of these songs and the stories behind their musicians began resurfacing online. Artists who had been long forgotten were suddenly back on the radar. Several local South African blogs, most notably Electric Jive and Afrosynth were launched, and began preserving and exposing this music to the outside world. Before long, the “afrosynth” title stuck, and now there has been explosion of lost music being salvaged and sold on the global record collecting marketplace. This effort recently culminated with the hugely successful vinyl re-release of V.O.’s “Mashisa” on Toronto’s Invisible City Editions label. I’ve seen this record sell out at my local shop in North Carolina and pop up on dance mixes online; I have no idea how many DJ’s know the history behind the genre or just how much more amazing music there is from South Africa from that era. It’s crazy how fast things have changed since 2009, let alone since 1979.

Thanks to my wife’s family, I’ve been lucky enough to visit South Africa a few times over the past 7 years. Back in 2010, I was making phone calls to record dealers and getting word-of-mouth referrals to “a guy” here or there, who may have had what I was looking for. Two of “those guys” who welcomed me into their homes to buy records are now proprietors of their own retail shops in Johannesburg and Durban, and are two of the biggest global sellers of this music online. It’s been fun collecting this music and trying to stay one step ahead of the big money collectors, and even more fun to listen to and enjoy this music.

It’s my sincere pleasure to share some of these rare, fantastic dance tracks from South Africa. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Here’s to another 100 episodes of the Dance Megamix. And don’t worry, we’ll get back the business of playing mostly classic house and disco next week.

-Don

Tracklist for March 29, 2017

01 :: Sky Jinx – Love Affair [On Records]
02 :: C.J.B. – Amanda [Sound Rays]
03 :: Letta Mbulu – Nomalizo [Be With Records]
04 :: Joe Masunga – Chipesane (Instrumental) [Soltone Records]
05 :: Cheek To Cheek – Do You Still Remember Me (Dub Mix) [Bullet Records]
06 :: Om Alec Khaoli – Sekuru [Gallo]
07 :: The Strikers – Ezikamagebula [The CCP Record Co.]
08 :: Warrior – Warrior Dance [WEA]
09 :: Mavis Maseko – Keep On Moving [Nu Beat]
10 :: Nomuntu & Chimora – Ricotamba [Roy B. Records]
11 :: Patricia Majalisa – Witch Doctor [Gallo]
12 :: Chicco – I Need Some Money [Roy B. Records]
13 :: Stanza – I’m Dreaming [Shandel Music]
14 :: Jabulani – Love And Understanding [Magic]
15 :: Al Etto – She’s Hot [Roy B. Records]
16 :: Whoosha – You Are My Only One [Sonovision]
17 :: Umoja – Oneness [Gallo]
18 :: Cheek To Cheek – Sunny Days [Bullet]
19 :: Kamazu – Korobela [Teal Sound]
20 :: Taxi – Ikhaya [Roy B. Records]
21 :: Supa Frika – Eldorado Park (Extension Mix) [Bullet]
22 :: Peta Teanet – Glory [Challenger]
23 :: Nomuntu Kapa – Come And Satisfy Me [Roy B. Records]
24 :: Joe Masunga – Nwananga Washaneseka [Quavers]
25 :: Wa’de – Bushy Bushy [Orange Records]
26 :: Venus – Soul Train [Cool Spot]
27 :: Black Moses – M5 [Soul Brothers Productions]
28 :: V.O. – Mashisa [Invisible City Editions]
29 :: The Allnighters – I Still Love You [Mob Music]
30 :: Brenda Fassie – Bump Bump [The CCP Record Co.]
31 :: Chicco – Koshana [Roy B. Records]
32 :: Bibbi – Guns On Fire (Flame Mix) [Diamond Music]
33 :: Chimora – Africano Americano [Teal Trutone]

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