‘House’ is a strange name for such a nomadic genre of music. This could be because it tends to be forgotten once the DJ has spun his last track, but it seems that over the last decade a handful of Joburg-based DJs are using the drifter-like factor of house music to their advantage.
Originally published in Issue 22 of one small seed magazine
More than comfortable spinning tracks for any appreciative individual, DJs Black Coffee, Euphonik and Kent have become household names due to their concentrated efforts to bleed house music beyond the cracks of Joburg and into mainstream South African culture.
Lighting the way with his continuously expanding fanbase is 2010 SAMA Award winner for Best Male Artist and Best Urban Dance Album, Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Maphumulo).
Undoubtedly one of the best house DJs this country has ever exported, Black Coffee’s inclusion in the Red Bull Music Academy in 2003 paid homage to his years spent studying music as well his natural ability, and allowed him to taste the musical diversity of the European scene while promoting his unique style of Afro-infused house.
It was during this time that he met Hugh Masekela: a pairing that spawned the reworking of the jazz legend’s iconic track ‘Stimela’. The result was home-brewed postmodern pastiche at its best. By successfully maintaining Masekela’s quintessential old-school jazzy beat while simultaneously making the track accessible to a younger, hungrier audience, Black Coffee made a name for himself as a 21st-century magician among DJs.
Recently though, it’s been his smash hits ‘Juju’ and ‘Superman’ – featuring vocals by Bucie – that have amounted to extensive exposure on national radio and TV.
And so, Black Coffee has evolved into something of an alter ego to his fictional ‘Superman’ character, becoming a bona fide hero and pioneer for local house music.
Another DJ who knows a thing or two about radio exposure is DJ Euphonik (Themba Mbongeni Nkosi), who has two timeslots on South African radio station 5fm – one being a collaborative effort with his F.eU productions partner, the ever-enigmatic DJ Fresh, every Wednesday on the Fresh Drive.
Somewhat of a Wunderkind when it comes to knowing what pleases his listeners into swaying in sync with his beats, Euphonik is in complete control of the creative process of his tunes and appears to have his fingers in multiple commercial pots – pretty impressive for a man who has only recently hit his mid-20s.
Unafraid to take risks both professionally and personally, DJ Euphonik has emerged as the fearless dark knight of – and role model for – the local house music scene, evident as he proudly displays his HIV-negative status on his website for all to see.
And DJ Euphonik is not the only 20-something house artist who’s making waves. DJ Kent (Khensani Mabaso), once at the helm of the now-abolished Joburg-based production team Kentphonik (which included DJ Euphonik and Tumi Mokitlane), has steadily established himself as the crown prince of the scene: the favourite son, if you will.
His 2009 SAMA Award for Best Urban Dance Album tipped him as red-hot property and – after establishing his own record label, 88 Productions – built a reputation for gratifying the club masses through his groove-worthy mixes.
The uninterrupted 25-minute Ulti-mix at 6 that DJ Kent currently runs once a week on 5fm is testament to this, becoming a firm favourite among drive-time listeners.
He even contributed his musical talents to the FIFA Confederations Cup and last year’s FIFA World Cup, penning and producing a track with Robbie Malinga (producer of local heavyweights Arthur, Kabelo, Ntando, etc) for fast-food moguls McDonalds.
With all this in mind, it would not be too bold to suggest that Joburg has become a melting pot for house DJs to collaborate and share their expertise with each other and their devoted followers.
More than in any other city in South Africa, house has been welcomed with open arms into Jozi’s pulsating nightlife, owing mainly to these prized DJs championing the cause of their beloved genre.
A long way from its American place of origin, it appears that house has settled comfortably into its new home, sporting a proudly South African stamp to equal its international compatriots.
soulisticmusic.com | euphonik.dj | djkent.co.za
Words: Tecla Ciolfi
Photos: courtesy of DJ Euphonik, DJ Kent and Soulisticmusic