The Voice Of A Generation

In the early 1990s youth South Africans, powered by the injustice of the Apartheid regime, started to create an entirely new genre, based on house music beats with African infused rhythms and lyrics.

"The young South African mind today is a goldmine because the bondage of the past is being released. Music and fashion are going to grow hand in hand. The world has yet to see what's coming out of this place"

— Chubi Mogale

New Sounds

Young township music lovers were increasingly tuned in to the sounds of foreign house music, and as a result, ears adapted to it. As the popularity of Bubblegum started to decline,  Oscar Mdlongwa, Mduduzi Masilela and Arthur Mafokate started to mix up elements of rap, R&B and Ragga, with heavy doses of overseas house beats while spicing it with some African melody and percussion. This was the birth of Kwaito.

"It's a way of life. Kwaito is about the drug dealer in the ghetto who everyone is looking up to because he's driving fine cars. It's about the single mother struggling to bring up three children. Kwaito is about ghetto life."

- Mandoza

The Language of the Ghetto

Kwaito became the music that represented South African township youth. It was the music and culture of the township, the voice and language of the ghetto.

Come the millennium, the beats, the lyrics and how the artists had reached another level. A new era in the Kwaito sound was marked by the arrival of Mandoza. Not only did his album‘Nkalakatha’ sell multi-platinum, the project didn’t sound like any Kwaito that anyone had heard before.

"Kwaito is going to be around for a long time. It's going to become a part of mainstream music. I find nuances in it that so called critics will never understand. It's the core of township feeling"

— Jazz legend Hugh Masekela

As years went by, house music started dominating the scene. Even though Kwaito had its loyal supporters, bit by bit, artists started upping the Kwaito tempo, matching it to that of house. Today, Kwaito uses a tempo that isn't far from house music, however this doesn't mean the end of Kwaito. Like everything in life, the genre has simply moved on and re-invented itself.