Featured Artist: Spoek Mathambo

30 Aug

“My Machine Gun” is the title of Spoek Mathambo’s latest album, single, and band (in English). The actual (Zulu) title of this Joburg-based New Wave/Afro-beat rapper’s album is Mshini Wam.

Check out the video:

A Little Background

Umshini wami, also known as Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (bring me my machine gun), was a popular struggle song that was used by the military division of the African National Congress (ANC) political party while battling the Apartheid regime of the 1970s and 80s. President Jacob Zuma went under fire in recent years for singing the song at ANC rallies (prior to becoming president last year), but in 2008 he denounced the singing of Umshini Wami by rioters after violent, xenophobic attacks against immigrants from neighboring African countries became increasingly prevalent in the country.

(Unrelated: please note the crowd’s 4-part harmony!)

Protest Songs in 2010?

Mathambo views himself “as a part of a new wave of energy in Africa, which is intent on nurturing a sense of progressiveness while maintaining a pride in culture.”1 With the political issues he refers to in the title and in the songs of his album Mathambo describes how much South Africa has grown as a nation, and yet how far there is still left to go. Machine guns and protest songs, while they represent once “necessary” components of the evolution of South Africa and are undoubtedly melded in the history and culture of the country, must be substituted with other means of “communication” if the country is to continue moving in a positive direction.

Want a sneak peak of Mshini Wam album?

Preview Mshini Wam on The FADER (only 48 hours)

Listen to Nike Sportswear x The FADER’s Pitch Perfect Mixtape #6: Africa by Spoek Mathambo:

Mathambo’s latest album drops on Tuesday 31 August (tomorrow) on BBE so make sure to check out the album and get yourself a copy if you feel so inclined (the FADER preview link will only work for 48 hours so…no time to procrastinate). I was listening to the album while writing this and I’m diggin it…

What do you think of Spoek Mathambo’s new album?

What do you think of the controversial title?

Until next time,



3 Responses to “Featured Artist: Spoek Mathambo”

  1. Kim Loper August 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    This is a great post Bali, thanks! Listening to the “sneak peak” now and I really like it. I appreciate politically, meaningful music that enters the mainstream (thinking of K’naan and MIA) but fear what will happen when it hits the west. Just in general I think music like this so easily becomes consumed by clueless hipsters and is just recognized as cool because it’s different, bypassing the importance of the history that’s produced the music. I suppose it doesn’t matter what happens once Western hipsters get a hold of it- Afro Beat/dance featured on Fader is gonna be successful within a certain culture, point blank. Seems really important for South Africa though and that’s what matters!!

    Thanks for the post!
    (E saudades, claro!!!)

    • Mbali N. August 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

      Best. Comment. Ever.
      You’re right on point about the appropriation of awesome/political music by “clueless hipsters.” It would be wonderful if more people did a little research about the music they consume, but at the same time I guess all PR is good…

      Muito obrigada, menina 🙂


  1. Tweets that mention Featured Artist: Spoek Mathambo « Jaunt to Johannesburg -- Topsy.com - August 30, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by alexis s, Mbali Ndlovu. Mbali Ndlovu said: Check out my new blog post on South African rapper Spoek Mathambo – and hand me my machine gun! http://wp.me/pFolr-1H […]

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