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What Is Kwaito?
Kwaito is a South African music genre that emerged in the 1990s during Nelson Mandela’s reign as the country’s first elected black president. The genre borrows most of its features from Hip Hop and house music. It is, however, distinguished by its unique style of presentation.
The word Kwaito stems from the Afrikaans language and translates to ‘hot’ in English. Celebrated musician Mdu Masilela once explained how the word developed into a music genre. He further expounded on the close relationship between Kwaito music and house music.
"When house music got popular, people from the ghetto called it Kwaito after the Afrikaans slang word kwai, meaning those house tracks were hot, that they were kicking," he stated.
The genre is characterized by slowed-tempo beats that sound similar to those of house music, with a sequential kick drum on each beat. The beats were developed by fusing house music beats with those from African music.
It gained popularity after South Africa got independence with its democratically elected president. The music genre was used to exercise freedom of expression. One of the first successful Kwaito hit songs was ‘Kaffir’ by Arthur Mafokate.
Following the popularity of the genre, a good number of South African artists ventured into it. Among the pioneer artists of the genre were; Arthur Mafokate, Oskido, Boom Shaka, and Mdu Masilela.
With time, the genre’s popularity crossed the borders and spread to the rest of the world. Its close association with house music made it easier for people to relate to it. The collaboration of Kwaito musicians with other music stars strengthened the genre on a global scale.
Kwaito music on several occasions has been a subject of debate among various stakeholders following controversial content that was expressed by some of the artists. In 2005, singer Arthur sparked a huge debate after he released ‘Sika Lekhekhe’. Some of the fans criticized the singer citing that the song was too explicit to be played on air. SABC radio station banned the song forcing the artist to reproduce it.
Kwaito band Boom Shaka, similarly, faced criticism after they released a rendition of the South African national anthem. A number of the political stakeholders did not welcome the idea warmly.
The genre has grown to take different styles within itself. Some artists have developed the genre’s gospel version while others have developed its secular versions. The songs have been used to educate and sensitize society on various issues, especially politics and leadership.
With its immense growth and increasing popularity, Kwaito music became extremely competitive in the South African music industry. Various record labels such as TS, Ghetto Ruff, Kalawa, Jazmee, and Bulldogs invested in the production of the genre
Some of the top musicians who had successful hit songs include; Zola, Mandoza, Trompies, Brown Dash, Mahoota, Spikiri, Chippa, Msawawa, Mshoza, Thembi Seite, Mzambiya, Thandiswa Mazwai, Brikz, TKZee, Unathi, the late Brenda Fassie, and Mzekezeke.
Over the years there has been a heated debate on the origin of the Music. Some claim that South Africa should not be considered to be the origin of the genre given the fact that it draws its inspiration and features from house music. Whereas there are those who argue that Kwaito Music was locally produced with African instrumentals and vocals, there are also those who argue that the foundation of the genre was on a foreign genre.
Despite the debate, South Africans pride themselves on the success of the genre and treasure it so much. The genre reflects the social, economic, and political setup of the people. It is also a symbol of hope for South Africans as it represents post-apartheid life. The music has penetrated the townships and other interior regions of the country. Therefore, it is more than just a music genre, it is a lifestyle.
South Africa also houses other popular music genres such as the Amapiano, Xhosa Music, and Tswana Music among many others. Among these, Amapiano has equally gained popularity and respect in the music scene.
What are some of the popular songs in the genre?
1. Shibobo by TKZee
2. Uzoyithola Kanjani by Mandoza
3. Siya Jola (Ok’Salayo) by M’du
4. Sweety Lavo
5. Qula by Brenda Fassie
6. Verstaan by Mandoza
7. Ipompe by M’du
8. Amakoporosh by DJ Sbu
9. Tsodiyo by Lebo Mathosa
10. You Make Me Go Mmm by Arther Mafokate
How to download Kwaito Music on Mdundo.com
Kwaito mp3 music is available for free download and streaming on Mdundo.com. Visit the site using any device that can access the internet, navigate to the search bar and type in your favourite song then tap on the search button. A catalogue bearing the songs will show up. You can either listen to the music online by tapping the play button or save it to your device by tapping the download button.