Bibliography Of Kwaito Skeem


Kwaito artists Bravo and producer DJ Cleo talk about kwaito and offer a sample of Bravo's work.
Bravo is one of the many kwaito artists who grew up in a notoriously rough area of Soweto called Zola. He was born Siphiwe Msimanga in 1982 and got his start performing with friends in parks, schools, malls and finally clubs. Later, he won the Schweppes Sparkling Granadilla Kwaito Fabulous competition, rapping to a back up track provided by Kwaito superstar, and fellow Zola-ite, Zola - who was also the host of the show. The victory landed him a record deal with Ghetto Ruff which released Bravo's debut album Skhokho in 2004. He is also featured on several tracks on label-mate Pitch Black Afro's debut CD Styling Gel.
DJ Cleo says he's been called the Quincy Jones of South Africa. And judging from his resume, that's not far from the truth. He's produced songs and full CD's for a many of the very biggest kwaito and South African hip hop stars, including Mandoza, Mzekezke, Brown Dash, Zola, Doc Shebeleza and Pitch Black Afro. His efforts have led to two consecutive South African Music Association Song of the Year awards (both tracks he produced for Mzekezeke). In 2004, he released a CD of his own house tracks calledEs'Khaleni, a joint project of his music company Will of Steel Productions and Ghetto Ruff Records. He says, "All I need is that one chance produce just that one song for any rapper, Jay-Z, Jah Rule, 50 Cents, whatever. And I will kill it. It will become a hit worldwide. Try me. Whoever you're going to play this to, get a hold of me."

Ghetto Ruff Managing Director Lance Stehr and artist Ishmael talk about the label's first kwaito hit.
Ishmael Morabe says he was homeless when he met the people who would make him a star. They were from Ghetto Ruff records and happened to find him at a nightclub where he'd sometimes freestyle over back up tracks, staying out as long as he could and napping in the park when need be. Ghetto Ruff recruited Ishmael to be a dancer for its lone group at the time - a hip hop outfit called Prophets of Da City. In 1996, when it was clear hip-hop was not hip yet in South Africa (at least not in terms of sales) Ishmael put together a kwaito group called Skeem. Skeem's first single War Was Jy became a huge hit and went on to win a South African Music Association award. From there, Ishmael went on to become a celebrated R&B solo artist. His fourth solo album Long Way Home was scheduled for release in August of 2005.

Oskido, co-owner of Kalawa Jazzmee records, talks about how the end of apartheid inspired the birth of kwaito.
Oskido - Oscar Mdlongwa is one of the forerunner's of kwaito. He got his start selling sausages outside of a Johannesburg nightclub, eventually making his way into the club to spin the closing sessions. At first he would remix American house music tracks, slowing them down to the speed that, he says, black South Africans were used to dancing to. But Oskido says he eventually got bored of doing that and ultimately started developing his own style. Soon he gathered a following on the underground circuit with Bruce Sebitlo and their group Brothers of Peace. When the mainstream record labels in South Africa refused to sign him, he created his own label, Kalawa Jazzmee. In the ensuing years, Kalawa Jazzmee has won numerous awards and produced some of the most popular artists in the country, including Bongo Maffin and Mafikizolo - both of whom have had some success internationally.
Mapaputsi - Sandile Ngwenya says he was given the name Mapaputsi by an Italian shoe salesman in Zola, Soweto where he grew up. ("Paputsi" derives from an Italian dialect word for "shoes.") He says it was a good name for him because, ultimately, he wants to travel the world, telling the story of his country and spreading South African pride wherever he goes. He began his musical career in 1998 working with kwaito "it" groups like TKZee and Chiskop. In 2002, he hit it big on his own with the Ghetto Ruff release Izinja.

Niq Mhlongo reading a passage from his novel Dog Eat Dog.
Niq Mhlongo is the author of the celebrated "kwaito generation" novel Dog Eat Dog, which is culled from his and his friends' experiences growing up in Soweto and attending The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He writes, "The end of apartheid gave rise to this new, youthful and energetic generation that expresses itself through kwaito, Afro-pop and rap music as well as through poetry - hence I refer to it as the kwaito generation. This is the new national, hybrid generation that is united in a new kind of struggle: against Aids, poverty, xenophobia, unemployment, crime, etc."

Mzekezeke expounds on the genre of music that made him famous. Recorded at the Vaal Institute of Technology Fresher's Ball, March 12, 2005.
Mzekezeke (pron: "Mm-ZEH-geh-ZEH-geh) is the Unknown Comic of kwaito. His real identity is unknown as he is never seen in public without his signature balaclava mask and yellow overalls. Mzekezeke hails from Tembisa, north of Johannesburg. He began his career as a recurring guest on Johannesburg radio station YFM, making prank calls and poking fun at celebrities. Soon he was recording his own CDs, winning awards and appearing on television. He says he wears the mask to "represent the normal man in the street. I'm the voice for the voiceless. I represent the poor people of this country. I'm their voice. As you can see me now, hear me now, I'm talking. They are not here to talk to you. Because they are in the ghetto."

Zola gives reporter Sean Cole an African name.

An extended free-style session with kwaito superstar Zola, his producer Thaso, Ghetto Ruff engineer Mpho Pholo (aka 37 MPH) and two of up-and-coming rappers Zola has taken under his wing, Tuks and Slice.
Zola - At a young age, Bonginkosi Dlamini was nicknamed Zola after the rough-and-tumble section of Soweto where he grew up. (It made sense, he says, since his uncle was nicknamed Soweto.) Years later he would become one of at least half a dozen kwaito stars to emerge from Zola, including kwaito pioneer Mdu Masilela and crossover sensation Mandoza (aka Mdu Tshabalala). Zola is probably the most popular kwaito artist in the country. His fame has been propelled by his hit reality TV showZola 7 in which he travels around the country, and sometimes the continent, trying to solve people's problems and make their dreams come true. In 2005, he won the South African Music Association's Artist of the Year award. He is the owner of the music company Guluva Entertainment and a champion of younger performers whom he's helped into the industry. Lance Stehr of Ghetto Ruff records calls him the second biggest brand in the country next to Nelson Mandela.

He grew up in Bochum with his mom, dad, two sisters and a younger brother.  “We were a happy family, the type everyone could admire but both my parents passed away.  Our home was full of love, my mom and dad were strict but they shaped me into who I am today for that I’m thankful.”

Clement’s career highlights include the month he served his articles as a candidate attorney, some road shows and promotions with a commercial radio station in Limpopo and when he was registered as a model with Rezo-Lution and Media Management.

He believes his involvement with Skeem Saam is his big break.  “I saw a notification on facebook from Mzansi fo sho about the auditions.  I travelled from Limpopo to audition and fortunately I got the role.  Kwaito is a smart teenager who is passionate about poetry, he likes reading and writing.  He was not born with a golden spoon in his mouth and tries by all means to impress his mother because she loves him so much.  Kwaito is bitter about not having a father by his side like his friend Tbose.”

“Skeem Saam is for all South Africans especially the youth.  The educational message reminds people that the little things we do for pleasure can land us in big trouble.  Some pleasures can end dreams; the youth should pay attention to the words of their parents.”

Clement is an impatient person and is scared of snakes.  He gets angry at people who undermine others and those who allow intimidation and don’t stand up for themselves.  His favourite movie is Sarafina, he says “every time I watch it I remember what apartheid was and what freedom is, it’s a reminder how difficult it was to be a black South African during those days and I enjoy it because it’s musical.”

Hugh Masekela’s ‘Thanani’ is Clement’s most memorable song; during drama at high school the song was often played as their dance theme.  His favourite TV show among many is Sokhulu and Partners because it’s informative as far as justice in South Africa is concerned, Clement says “the story is well portrayed; I would love to be in that cast and explore my legal expertise as well.”

God is Clement’s inspiration because he does things that no man can do.  He reads the Bible often because it talks about everything from law to love.  In his spare time he usually goes to movies with friends but prefers spending time with his family.

Clement says he has no regrets in life “I always make sure to use every second wisely.” He knows that pain and joy are ‘for sure’ in life.  If granted a wish Clement says it would be “to spend one more day with my parents, I cry about the way they passed away and the fact that I will never see them again.”

Watch Clement in 13 episodes of Skeem Saam on SABC1 scheduled for broadcast on Thursdays at 20h30 from 13 October 2011.  He says Skeem Saam is not the end, “I am going to be in the industry for quite some time, there are lots of untold stories that I would like to tell through drama.”

The drama Skeem Saam, produced by PEU Communication Solutions for SABC Education is a blend of stories about how a boy knows when he has become a man.  It examines the plight of today’s male children and the tough challenges they face transitioning into manhood. The underlying premise for the series is, real men are made, not born.

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