27 September 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

First Giyani, then global

I hadn’t even heard of Shangaan Electro until I read this fantastic piece in the Mail & Guardian on how a modern interpretation of Shangaan music has taken music produced in the small Limpopo town of Giyani to the global stage - a good story, well-told and all credit to the journalists who produced it.

The article explores how an artist manager and producer from New York, Wills Glasspiegel, discovered Shangaan Electro music.  After friend and musician Tshepang Ramoba introduced him to this micro-genre via YouTube, they went on a mission to find Richard Mthetwa, aka Nozinja, aka Dog, “a 41-year-old record producer and reluctant recording artist, whose label is credited with revolutionising the sounds of Shangaan music.”

The article goes on to look at what makes Shangaan Electro so different to traditional Shangaan music, and what this means in terms of culture and identity.

The best way to understand Shangaan Electro is to listen to it. This is just one of the many clips on YouTube, some of which have had tens of thousands of hits.

Shangaan Electro creator Nozinja had his first hit with Tshetsha, which he composed after witnessing a style of dance by the same name back in his hometown of Giyani. He put together a band called the Tshe-Tsha Boys and, after meeting with Ramoba and Glasspeigal and forming a partnership, has never looked back.

On July 6 2010 Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music from South Africa was released to rave reviews on the Honest Jons label. Online music retailer Boomkat noted: “Ask us about Shangaan Electro a week ago and we’d ask you to speak slower; ask us this week and we’ll rave about one of the most astounding records we’ve heard this year.”

What’s astounding to me, to quote the article further, is the fact that “it took a white hipster from New York to show me that something this fantastic was taking place in my own home town.”

Artists to look out for on the Nozinja label include the Tshe Tsha Boys BBC, which stands for Beautiful Black Culture, Tiyiselani Vomaseve and, Mancingelani.

comments powered by Disqus