Posted in Artist Profiles, South Africa

African Hip-Hop Artist #1

Arthur-Mafokate

Biography

African artist Arthur Mafokate is a profound artist that is well-known for his association to kwaito music. In fact, musicians and fans acknowledge him as the kwaito originator. Kwaito is a music genre that emerged during the 1990’s. The sound is a mixture of house music featuring African samples and sounds and the beats are typically at slow tempo with voices that are chanted in the background. Because Mafokate was unafraid to state his strong opinions, he helped to remove any barriers that restricted or limited the creative freedom to the South African artists before him. Despite strong competition, Mafokate’s “Oyi Oyi” won song of the year at the FNB South African Music Award.

Mafokate emerged during the late 1980’s because of his winning dance performances at different competitions and his modeling career. Inspired by his role model, Mafokate received a record deal at CCP records that he accepted. His first projects, Windy Windy and Bambezela didn’t generate a greater response as expected. Following the release, Mafokate began perfecting and learning new and different skills that reflected his growth in Kaffir. The 6-track EP reached the country’s youth in Africa and sold over 150 thousand copies. Kaffir was banned from a few radio stations due to the lyrical content. Despite some disagreeing with Mafokate’s free, uncensored expression, his projects help communicate messages that are uplifting and provide a sense of hope.

Artist Review

Upon listening to Mafokate’s songs, I thought I had selected an artist whose music does not fall under the hip-hop category. I continued listening to each of his songs to discover his distinctive style was a unique style he is considered responsible for, kwaito. Each song contains instruments including the drums, hi- hat, horns, piano and many more sounds to produce a fun and light sound. Ontop of the jazz and funky beats, Mafokate raps in his native language and often incorporates a feminine voice to compliment the song. The beats also provide an earthy and ethnic sound because it sounds like it was composed of actual instruments instead of relying solely on computerized beats. Although both work to produce quality music, there is a sense of organic music stemming from the core.

Mafokate’s “Daai Ding” a fun and creative song that makes you want to sing and dance. Although the song is not translated to English, the harmony of the beat and the artist’s voice make you nod your head to the beat anyway. The song contains elements relative to jazz including the xylophone and hi-hats to create and earthy sound. It is hard not to associate the song with dancing especially since the music video is focused solely on women dancing. The video is appealing because the scenes are remnant of videos from the early 90’s in found within the Western hip-hop culture. For examples, the scenes of the women dancing in a studio reminds me of the TLC’s “Creep” music video so it makes me engaged with watching to see notice differences and similarities.

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