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Kwaito: South Africa’s homegrown sound

Emerging in the early 90’s in Johannesburg, Kwaito is a distinctive musical genre spawned from township dance halls. It’s groove is like that of slowed down house music, with some hip hop elements and African-style chanting and rapping.The accompanying dance style is also a hybrid of South African “Pantsula” (best described as an African Charleston) and bump-and-grind hip hop.

  • The word Kwaito interestingly stems from “Kwaai” the Afrikaans word for angry, with the first big hit named “Kaffir” by Arthur Mafokate. “Kaffir” literally translates as “non-believer” or “infidel”, but is a racial slur on par with “Nigger”.

Kwaito has not made it too far from South African shores, but many big international acts have been remixed eKasi (township)-style, with the signature suppressed tempo and pulsating rhythm.

If you like it and plan on buying some while on holiday, these are some of the most popular artists:

  • Zola
  • Mandoza
  • Mzekezeke
  • Brown Dash
  • Mahoota
  • Spikiri
  • Mzambiya
  • Chippa
  • Msawawa
  • Mshoza,
  • Thembi Seite
  • Thandiswa Mazwai
  • Brikz
  • And the late, great Brenda Fassie

Mzansi forever!