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Kwaito is a music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa in the early 1990s. It is based on house music beats, but typically at a slower tempo and containing melodic and percussive African samples which are looped, deep basslines and often vocals, generally male, shouted or chanted rather than sung or rapped. The name Kwaito is derived from the Afrikaans slang word Kwaai, meaning "cool" or "mean".

Kwaito's lyrics are usually in indigenous South African languages or in English, although several languages can found found in the same song. More recently, Kwaito artists like Zola have rapped their lyrics in a hip-hop style, while others such as BOP and Oskido have sped up their beats and toned down the male chants to create a softer form of Kwaito or african house. Other prominent kwaito artists include Arthur, Zola, Mandoza and Mzekezeke.


House music arrived in Cape Town in the early 1990s at raves like the World Peace Party and in clubs like Eden, Uforia and DV8. This spread northward where, in the mid 1990s, Chicago house was becoming a popular genre in Johannesburg clubs, and local artists fused its sound with that of South African music. Arthur Mafokate, Makhjendlasi (Arthur's brother), Oskido and Mdu Masilela were the first artists to produce a huge Kwaito hit and popularise it in and outside the black townships with his track Kaffir. However, it is only after 2001 that Kwaito artists and music have found their way to Europe and the United States.

As Kwaito became increasingly mainstream in South Africa, collaborations, such as that between South African R&B artists Danny K and Mandoza, have become more common. Kwaito hits often attract a bit of media attention, as Arthur's August 2005 release "Sika Lekhekhe" (a Zulu phrase literally meaning "Cut the cake" and figurativly "Have sex with me") did. The song was banned by a SABC radio station and Arthur had to reshoot the video after several complaints from viewers offended by its sexually suggestive content. Similarly, kwaito band Boom Shaka was widely criticised by the political establishment for its rendition of the national anthem to a kwaito beat.

The kwaito industry is growing fast and there is more competition between the kwaito stars, old and new. Popular artists include Zola, Mandoza, Mzekezeke, Brown Dash, Mahoota, Spikir, Mzambiya, Chippa, Msawawa, Mshoza, Thembi Seite, Thandiswa Mazwayi, Unathi and the late African pop and kwaito star Branda Fassie.

TS, Ghetto Ruff, Kalawa Jazz Me and Bulldogs are the main recording companies that have discovered kwaito musicians. Jam Alley is a South African talent show that has been a venue for many young kwaito artists like Mandoza, Mzambiya, Zola as well as other pop stars. Some kwaito artists have even transcended a musical career. Zola, for instance, now hosts a talk show called "Zola 7" on SABC1.

For now, kwaito's appeal remains largely a South African phenomenon and it has not yet generated the kind of interest that other South African musicians have created for the country's music in the rest of the world.

External links

Home | Up | Styles of house music | Acid house | Ambient house | Chicago house | Dark house | Deep house | Electro house | Freestyle music | French house | Gabber music | Garage | Ghetto house | Hard house | Hi-NRG | Hip house | Kwaito | Latin house | Microhouse | Minimal house | Nu-NRG | Progressive electronic music | Pumpin' house | Tech house | Tribal house | Vocal house

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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