You don’t have to rock a 70s Afro Sheen worthy fro to enjoy the global sounds of Afro house. The fro is optional, but you don’t have the option to deny the organic sounds pulsating from the EDM scene in South Africa.
South Africa has a pretty huge music scene ranging from world music, African, hip-hop, soul, and of course, the delicious sounds of Afro house. African house, dubbed with the name “Afro House,” is a style of house music that risen out of South African within the past 20 years.
It encompasses all the qualities of house music, yet it’s more than a style of music by artists from Africa. In the same way that house music from France, known as French Touch/French House, is distinctive to its location, house music from South Africa is similar.
House music from South Africa has quite a definitive quality that can be solemnly contributed to its location, the spirit of the people, and the history. The early origins of house music in South Africa date back to the early 90s. During that time period Kwaito –a slower tempo style of house—was beginning to emerge in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the time period of liberation and freedom surrounding Nelson Mandela’s election as president of South Africa, the musical climate began to shift. Kwaito represented liberation.
Kwaito represented a sign of freedom, and it became a voice for South Africans. As the years progressed Kwaito still (and still does) held dominance in the music scene, but now the sounds of Afro House are taking the scene by storm. Many South African DJs understood the importance of Kwaito, but they wanted to change things up. Kwaito was known for it’s slower pace, so DJs would take it up to 125BPM and incorporate strictly African vocals and sounds.
Afro House is tribal infused, organically driven, and ultimately joyous. Some tracks may include a selection of vocals sung in an African language, while other tracks offer a blast to the past with the usage of old South African songs, lyrics, and folklores. So not only is the music distinctly South African, but it’s something the people have a deep connection to. Afro House is music for the people of South Africa.
It’s music that is organic to the music scene within South Africa, but it’s also made its way to the mainstream EDM circuits. If you live in a major city that has clubs with international music nights (especially house,) then you’ve probably have heard some Afro House. Normally I can tell when I’m listening to a track that’s from South Africa due to the intricate composition and tribal feel of the beats, but sometimes the usage of African languages is a dead give away.
The beauty of Afro House is the fact that you don’t have to be African or understand the intricate language in order to appreciate it. Artists such as Black Coffee, DJ Cleo, Boddhi Satva (my favorite,) Oskido, DJ Mujava, and DJ Fresh are creating tracks that are distinctively African, yet have timeless international appeal.
The sounds of Afro House are taking South Africa by storm. And as the DJs become more international, it will only be a matter of time before you’re hearing the sounds of African chanting, drums, and a heavy house bass line in a club near you.
So next time you hear someone say “Afro House,” don’t scurry to find an iconic Afro wig; not that type of party. Instead grab your friends, wear some comfortable shoes, and prepare for a night of getting lost in tribal infused house rhythms.