Originally released in 1990 ‘Voaria’ was written by Benjamin Nhassavele and produced & arranged by the late Tata Sibeko, the revered South African producer and member of Kabasa. Taken from the LP of the same name ‘Voaria’ was released at a time when early house music was emerging as a key influence in the South African musical landscape, an evolvement of the Bubblegum pop sound that had fused disco and boogie with township funk. Characterised by Roland kick drums, Yamaha DX7s and Juno Synthesisers the Kwaito sound is the musical heartbeat of ‘Voaria’. Featuring Benjamin on lead vocals ‘Voaria’ comes in 2 versions, a main House mix on the A side and the Clubhouse mix on the flip which switches up the arrangement placing more emphasis on the groove.
E&S Brothers’ 1985 album Taduma holds a unique yet overlooked place in the history of South African dance music. When Shadrack Ndlovu and Ernest Segeel teamed up with Dane Stevenson, owner of Blue Tree Studio in downtown Johannesburg, and journeyman producer Taso Stephanou, South Africa’s bubblegum era had just begun, spurred on by the success of Shangaan disco. The relative success of their debut 12” ‘Don’t Bang The Taxi Door’, marketed aggressively at taxi ranks throughout the country, helped put the Blue Tree label on the map and E&S were invited back to record a full album: Taduma, featuring on keyboards Dr Buke, an in-demand session player from Soweto. Rooted in Africa, yet purely electronic, Taduma was a moderate hit, spurred by tracks like ‘Taxi Door’ and ‘Mhane’, its hypnotic refrain ‘Mhane, famba na wena’ meaning ‘Mother, I am going to you’. Other tracks like ‘Mapantsula’ and ‘Be Careful’ place Taduma within the street-savvy ‘pantsula’ style and dance synonymous with consecutive waves of music from disco to kwaito, house and beyond, while ‘Sikele Masike’ repurposes a traditional Shangaan work song. Vocally E & S are closer to rapping than singing, in a combination of English and vernacular – predating other credited pioneers of kwaito in SA like Senyaka and Spokes H. Driving the music instead of vocals are waves of searing synths over rudimentary but explosive drum machine sounds – the word ‘Taduma’ meaning the sound of the drum.
Not much is known about the mysterious pop sensation Vumani or his short musical career. Originally from KwaZulu Natal he made his way to Johannesburg in the mid 80’s to follow his dream of becoming a recording artist. He was able to make that dream come true when talent scouts from Decibel Music came across the charismatic youngster. At the time Decibel was still a small fish trying to make waves and the label believed in Vumani they had found the star they were looking for. Being a label with mostly groups signed to the catalog they needed a Front Man to push into the growing demand for Solo Artists that were dominating the airwaves and catching the hearts of youngsters. In 1896, they released two singles by Vumani, Black Mampatile and Guy Fawkes. Both singles were received well and a few more tracks were later recorded to create the full album Isiqedakoma.
Kalita unveil the first ever album reissue of one of – if not the – strongest South African kwaito/bubblegum albums in existence, Jivaro’s 1989 masterpiece ‘Saturday Fever’. A super strong South African bubblegum album with that characteristic infectious bassline sound all over. Also includes two synth-heavy reggae numbers. Produced, arranged and composed by Victor Ndlovu, with backing vocals by Beleoi Khamsule and Magengenene sisters Lizy and Ntsaleni.
A banging South African bubblegum tune, with house club mix on the flip! The start of the 90’s brought the final wave of House music that would cement it as the future of South Africa’s music scene. In the years leading up to the new decade, Disco had already naturally evolved into the very early stages of what would become South Africa’s signature House sound, with Instrumentals and Dub Mixes earning themselves spots on the Pantsula records leading the charts of the late 80s, it would be an influx of remixes appearing on import singles that would make the “House mix” the premier b side sound for those bubblegum artists trying to stay relevant in the 90’s.
Two deep sought after sultry late eighties South African house-inspired nuggets finally brought back to light.
Soweto-born Sello Twala emerged as a key figure in South Africa’s bubblegum scene, initially cutting his teeth in the early 80s as part of groups Umoja, Harari and Image, who in 1985 released the track that would give him his nickname: ‘Chicco’. Teaming up with co-producer Attie van Wyk, later that year he released his first single as a solo artist, ‘We Can Dance’. It was followed in 1986 by ‘I Need Some Money’. Both tracks add accessible English lyrics and catchy call-and-response vocals to infectious Shangaan-rooted dance rhythms, appealing to a wide audience that defied apartheid categories and established Chicco as a charismatic solo star, as well as a talented producer, both in SA and across the continent. Based on the success of these breakthrough singles, Chicco would go on to release politically charged pop albums We Miss You Manelow (1987), Thina Sizwe Esimnyama (1989), Soldier (1989) and Papa Stop the War (1990) and Nomari (1991).