Written By: Fletcher Bonin
If South African music is a concept or phrase you’ve never considered, or even heard of, I urge you to allow Spoek Mathambo be your introduction to this vibrant and little known music scene. With his latest album Badimo, Spoek Mathambo is essentially defining South Africa’s club music scene. His sound is all things pulsating, hard hitting, upbeat, fast and always fun. His vocals and features are victorious and uplifting, giving a sensation of release to the listener. With a sound at times reminiscent of old school techno and new school EDM, Spoek Mathambo also sets about carving out a sound of his very own on Badimo.
All six tracks belong on your pregame, dance hall, and postgame playlists. With at least one feature on every track, Badimo is sure to introduce you to plenty of new and talented artists. The characteristic trope of all electronic music is its tendency to sound the same, with no distinction from track to track. Albums become blenders of bass drops trippy sounds, the name of each track becoming irrelevant as the music fades into the background of the club, the bass hits lingering on your hangover the next morning in the form of a pounding headache.
But I’m telling you, Spoek Mathambo is different. Here is someone with genuine talent beyond the pushing of buttons and turning of knobs on a soundboard. His musical arrangements are complex and challenging, each instrumental composition a deliberate choice, each feature chosen for their complimentary vocal sound. Yes, Badimo is dance hall music, there is no doubt. But it is not music just for the dance hall. It is creative and imbued with an undeniable global appeal given the South African influence that comes through on each track.
My favorite track is entitled ‘Ubombo’ and features Marcus Prince on vocals. The beat is staccato and controlled, Prince’s vocals harmonic and captivating. Hand drum percussion sounds in the background give the song a tribal feel as do the vocals that live somewhere between rap and song. It is intense and meticulously arranged.
The track ‘The Mountain’ featuring Pegasus Warning, DJ Spoko and DJ Mujava was originally released as a single, and met with wide appeal. It has a more classically dancehall sound and is a good introduction to the album, more mainstream than the other tracks. But don’t stop there, I encourage you to give the intriguing and hyper sound of Badimo a chance.