Tag Archives: music playlist

Featured Artist: Sam Nhlengethwa

14 Sep

Play this before you read:

I noticed Sam Nhlengethwa’s art work out of the corner of my eye while walking through the SABC 1 office building last weekend and I immediately fell in love.

"Midnight Blues" - 1999 - Mixed media & construction

Nhlengethwa has said he paints jazz pieces as “an outlet for expressing [his] love of the music,” so he listens to jazz music and visualizes the performance as he paints.1

"Tribute to Miriam Makeba" - 2002 - 7 color lithograph

Nhlengethwa adds that in jazz, “there are vocal styles that include freedom of vocal colour, call-and-response patterns and rhythmic complexities played by different members. Painting jazz allows me to literally put colour onto these vocal colours.
“Jazz is rhythmic and it emphasizes interpretation rather than composition. There are deliberate tonal distortions that contribute to its uniqueness. My jazz collages, with their distorted patterns, attempt to communicate all of this.”2

Nhlengethwa also notes that he is not the first artist to call on jazz composition and jazz musicians for inspiration. He cites Romare Bearden as one of his predecessors.

"Showtime" by Romare Bearden. I took this photo in The Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City

I was ecstatic to find out Nhlengethwa’s works are currently showing in the Goodman Gallery here in Johannesburg (through 20 October)! The exhibition is titled Kind of Blue, after American jazz trumpeter/composer Miles Davis and his quintet’s iconic 1959 album (this quintet included John Coltrane on the saxophone). Davis’ Kind of Blue is playing on loop at Nhlengethwa’s exhibit, so I included one song from the album in this blog post to invoke a similar audio-visual sensory experience for all of you who aren’t here in Joburg to check out the show for yourselves.

"Kind of Blue" - 2009

I’m definitely going to check out Kind of Blue later this week!

What is your take on Sam Nhlengethwa’s collages? Do you think this medium is overdone?

Until next time,



Featured Artist: Miriam Makeba

8 Sep

Miriam Makeba aka Mama Africa isn’t lying – I don’t know about other cities/countries on this continent but the sunsets in Johannesburg are stunning!

Here’s a photo of a sunset I took in Soweto, Johannesburg

What’s your favorite Miriam Makeba song?

Until next time,


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,


Ever Been on a Soul Safari?

16 Aug

African Jazz Pioneers

If you like soul/jazz/funk music then you should definitely check out this informative music blog called Soul Safari which highlights South African and other African artists in the aforementioned genres. The blog is the brainchild of DJ/producer Eddy de Clercq.

Also, I think the blog name is witty…


Until next time,


Please Don’t Stop the Music – Mafikizolo

11 Aug

I haven’t been listening to nearly enough South African music so I started doing some “research” today. One of the first bands I stumbled onto was Kwaito/Afro Pop group, Mafikizolo, and I’m liking what I’ve heard so far (which is only one song haha).

Check out their “throwback” hit, “Nisixoshelani” (rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?) after the jump –

Apparently (based on You.Tube comments below the video) they’re singing, “Why are you chasing us away…when the party is so nice,” which is a theme anyone who’s been to a prematurely broken up high school house party can attest to!

Anyone have other South African music to suggest?

Until next time,