For the fourth installment of the True Music Africa tour, we’re tuning our ears to the cosmical four-to-the-floor beats coming out of Johannesburg and turning our cameras to the city’s hottest original music-makers and broadcasting their DIY sound to the world.
It’s by no fluke that Johannesburg is one of planet’s EDM and house music centres. Step out into the streets and you’ll instantly be enveloped by a deep, soulful kind of beat blasting out from taxis and street-side stalls to the high-end bars and restaurants. In short music is everywhere in Joburg. There’s no escaping from it, but when the local music scene is so vibrant, why would you want to?
EPISODE 4 JOHANNESBURG: A MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE
Meet the rising stars of Johannesburg’s underground scene in the next part of our True Music Africa documentary series with Boiler Room. Get familiar with the sounds and stories of what it takes to stay true and thrive in the City of Gold from the likes of Symatics, Moonchild Sanelly, and Uncle Partytime.
The House music Joburg built is a unique cut-up style that falls outside definitive boxes and categories, with influences from all corners of the continent and beyond. Along with Boiler Room, we’ll be shining a light on the emerging music scene fuelled by a digital revolution taking over the soundwaves. Expect a show full of over-amped, electro mixes full of raw afrocentric sounds. Delicious.
Kicking off the two-day celebration will be a Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music Forum, an evening of talks starting with a conversation between Grace LaDoja- Skepta’s well respected manager and recent receiver of an MBE for services to music- and local music journalist Helen Herimbi who has graced the pages of Rolling Stone South Africa, GQ, ARISE and the New Age. The pair will be covering Africa’s place in global creative influence and the DIY mentality that has infiltrated the new generation of music makers and hustlers from the continent.
We’ll also be partnering with OkayAfrica to spotlight South Africa, Kenya and Cameroon for a conversation covering the Digital Transformation which has acted as a catalyst for young creatives, helping them to create new platforms for their art. We’ll be hearing from the likes of Jepchumba (one of Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa 2012 and The Guardian Africa’s Top 25 Women Achievers) as well as True Music Kenya alumni Muthoni Drummer Queen plus, founder of creative and digital magazine Unlabelled, Phendu Kuta.
Our last panel conversation we’ll be focussing on a deep dive into the impact of Club Culture on the Birth of New Genres and features Boni Minsi (of This is What Makes us Girls fame), Theresho Selesho (Oppikoppi festival), South African hip hop DJ Kenzhero and underground top tip DJ Doowap.
A Londoner of Nigerian descent, Grace Ladoja's career has evolved through her visionary approach to creating frameworks outside of the mainstream. In 2017, Grace founded METALLIC INC, a creative agency with a sharp focus on creating cultural movements. As manager and advisor for Skepta, Grace helped execute a DIY strategy that led to winning the Mercury Music Prize. Grace has also founded HOMECOMING, a festival in Lagos celebrating heritage and cultural exchange of the arts between London and Lagos. Also an esteemed filmmaker, Grace’s work spans fashion, music, art, and street culture documentaries, including multiple promos for FKA Twigs, videos for Skepta and more. Grace’s achievements have lead to recognition from the Queen, who awarded her an MBE for her outstanding services to music, as well as receiving Music Week’s Rising Star Award for Women in Music.
Helen Herimbi is a music journalist who is passionate about the arts and entertainment industries of South Africa. Helen has previously sat down with everyone from Babyface to Babes Wodumo for interviews, and has contributed to publications including GQ South Africa, Arise Magazine, Rolling Stone South Africa, Cosmopolitan South Africa, The New Age, www.rage.co.za, Hype Magazine, afriPOP! Mag, and LoveLife’s Uncut Magazine. Helen will be leading the conversation with Grace.
Sabelo Mkhabela is a writer and photographer born in Swaziland and based in Joburg, South Africa. He is passionate about African music, particularly hip-hop and how it is documented. He has been writing and taking photos since 2014. He works for OkayAfrica fulltime, and has also written for The Guardian, Mahala, African Hip Hop Blog, True Africa, Superbalist and Bandcamp Daily, among others.
Jepchumba has been listed by Forbes as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa 2012 and in The Guardian Africa’s Top 25 Women Achievers. A cultural ambassador, Jepchumba is the Founder and Creative Director of African Digital Art, a collective and creative space where digital artists, enthusiasts and professionals can seek inspiration, showcase their artistry and connect with emerging artists. Jepchumba is dedicated to promoting the growth of the creative technology in Africa. Originally from Kenya, she is passionate about creating unique digital experiences.
MUTHONI DRUMMER QUEEN
Muthoni burst onto the scene over a decade ago, founding a number of live music events including Blankets And Wine, which now takes place in three East African countries, and Africa Nouveau, one of the few festivals on the continent featuring an entirely African lineup. The recently released SHE is a pop-friendly concept album that deals with the construction of African women's identity. Muthoni performed live as part of the True Music Africa show in Nairobi last month.
Phendu Kuta is the Creative Director, Editor and Founder of Unlabelled Magazine, a publication focused on showcasing African youth culture and fashion in a hip and edgy way by drawing inspiration from African culture and subcultures. The publication strives to influence African youth to embrace their unique identity whilst giving a new perspective on what it means to be young in Africa.
Boni Mnisi is a queer visual activist. She documents the experiences of queer and feminine bodies existing in South Africa. Informed by her own experiences of exclusion from spaces, Boni hosts parties in Cape Town that celebrate women of colour and non-binary people of colour. Drawing from Raunch Aesthetics, Boni creates spaces that pay homage to the sexually explicit art created by black women in the hip-hop industry. Each party hosted under her brand This Is What Makes Us Girls* references black women artists who have and continue to push sexual boundaries.
Theresho Selesho is a dynamic creative entrepreneur. He has previously been featured by the Sunday Times – Business Times in 2014 as one of the innovative leaders to watch. Having began his career with Hilltop Live Group (OppiKoppi festival, DRUM Beat Music festival), creating and managing their Sponsorship and Rights Management business, he then went on to become the Experiential Marketing Director Ogilvy Johannesburg. Selesho is now a part of the judging panel of Business and Arts South Africa (NPC), which is an internationally recognized development agency for the Annual Business and Arts South Africa Awards. Alongside this, Theresho serves on the IFAS French Institute of South Africa Culture Committee.
Kenny Nzama also known as Kenzhero began his journey as DJ in Cape Town where he became an integral part of the local music culture. A veteran of the South African hip hop scene, he has since played shows internationally, and has shared the stage with Questlove, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Diplo and more, as well as playing a DJ headline slot at Afropunk Johannesburg.
A specialist in the South African underground music scene, DJ Doowap plays the best in hip hop, trap, grime, gqom and bass. She has played a plethora of international events, including Berlin Fashion Week, Basha Uhuru Festival, FARO, OppiKoppi, Zone 6, Kitcheners and more. Not limited to DJing live, Doowap is a host of her own radio show, ‘Basspiration’ on R1WRadio. She has been an ambassador for the South African music scene on international radio and has hosted shows on Berlin Community Radio.
An evening full of dance-floor shaking live performances and DJ sets wrapped up this special True Music Africa double bill. The main stage action included a whole host of home-grown heroes of gqom and house music artists, proudly showing the world that the beat of Johanessburg is banging harder than ever before. Check them out below:
DJ Maphorisa is behind many of South Africa’s essential club hits. The multitalented performer/producer was born and bred in Soshanguve, Pretoria and has previously collaborated with Major Lazer, Wizkid, Davido, Black Coffee and more. His creative prowess has seen him play across the world and receive some of Africa’s most coveted accolades, including Best Collaboration and Song of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards.
Symatics is an artist/DJ based in Johannesburg and one half of Weheartbeat, the music collective responsible for bringing over the likes of Soulection, Mndsgn, Young Fathers, Masego, Kojey Radical and more to South Africa. The collective is at the epicentre of the alternative music scene and have consistently championed both international and South African emerging talent over their decade in music.
Signed to Black Coffee’s Soulistic Music, this Limpopo-born DJ-producer specialises in delicately galvanizing house music. He released an excellent debut album, Surreal Selections Vol. 1, in 2014, and is a fixture on the South African festival circuit. Da Capo’s prolific stream of online mixes has earned him a sizable following and a South African Music Award nomination for Best Dance Album
Moonchild Sanelly fuses elements of experimental electronic, afro-punk and edgy-pop with hints of her strong kwaito, hip hop and jazz background. Originally hailing from Port Elizabeth, the singer first made a name for herself in the Durban poetry and music scene. Her music reaches audiences beyond South Africa’s borders; she has played festivals such as SXSW in Houston, Texas and Primavera Sound in Barcelona.
Lindokuhle Junior Mabunda, better known by his stage name Uncle Partytime, is a DJ born out of the scene in Braamfontein. Specialising in Hip Hop and Gqom music, he began his solo DJ career in 2015 with shows at Onyx Rage, Kitcheners and Great Dane. He has since gone on to play at various local events and major festivals around the country such as Ultra South Africa and Red Bull Music Festival Johannesburg.