DON’T BE SCARED #GWABABA
I’m really happy with this picture and even more happy to introduce, or rather go deeper into this very interesting individual carrying the best name in the game… SPOEK MATHAMBO.
SPOEK MATHAMBO or Nthato Mogkgata for friends and family, is a South African artist, and one of the leading individuals of a new breed of ‘Afrofuturistic’ artists. Raised in Soweto, this ‘Post-Apartheid Glam Prince’ juggles between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sweden.
Spoek was actually aiming for a career in medicine, before he chose the road of becoming an artist. He quit medical school, decided to finish a degree in Illustration & Graphic Design and made his first musical steps both being a DJ as a frontman from different projects such as Sweat X and Playdoe.
The very first time I ever heard of Spoek Mathambo was simply the day I saw his name passing by on my Twitter timeline a big year ago. I had never heard of the man, but his name instantly drew my attention.
SPOEK MATHAMBO apparantely means ‘Ghost Of Bones.’ Sounds so powerful don’t you think? It makes me want to yell it out real loud. The name was actually taken from a character from a South African sitcom called Emzini Wezinsizwa.
What kind of music makes Spoek Mathambo, I hear you ask? The man labels his art as ‘Township Tech’ a variety from guitars, to house, to hiphop, to afro-electro, to funk, to kwaito. Basically different genres all molded into one. Or no genre at all. Or maybe simply South African music circa 2011?
Personally, for me, it’s very atmospheric music and a sound that I have never heard before. And most off all music that is impossible for you to remain on your seat unless of course you are frigid, but if you are reading this blog, I seriously doubt that you are.
So the very first song I ever heard was MSHINI WAM.
‘Mshini Wam’ is a contraction of ’Umshini Wami’, which means ‘Bring me my machine gun.’ It’s comes from a Zulu war song favored by the military wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe, in the early ’60s, then led by a young Nelson Mandela.
I loved everything about it. The lyrics, the flow, the visuals. I loved it because it’s raw, pure, honest, highly energetic, but most off all very interesting because I could not label any genre or other artist to it.
True, some folks love to label Spoek as the male version of M.I.A because of the social-political soaked lyrics, the graphic design/illustration background, an association that is probably easy on the ear for a lot of people who need comparison to something they already know before accepting the new, but I honestly think that this individual is above that label. And maybe slightly more complex.
Moving on. I dug a little deeper and suddenly there were so many tracks I started to love linked to Spoek Mathambo.
GWABABA (which means Don’t Be Scared)
I highly suggest you buy/download this track asap and blast it through some descent headphones or speakers, because shit is way intenser through your ears than watching the video above. Read ‘apocalyptic dark’ intense.
This song has been a personal anthem for some time because I could swéar I hear – “Everyday is saturday with OUNI in my head.” instead of ”BOOTY in my head.” But hey. :)
This track makes me want to buy an airhorn while I yell: “NOW THIS IS FOR MY GIRLS WHO UN-BUTTON THEIR PANTS IN THE CLUB.”
I’m a huge fan of this Douster x Spoek Mathambo collabo on PUNANI aswell.
Can’t really leave out this Tim Turbo x Spoek Mathambo x Gnucci Banana remix can I?
and DONT MEAN TO BE RUDE is that one track that can make you all paranoia/trippy/high at 4am in dark sweaty club.
But the track that really got the buzz going for Ntatho was this Joy Division cover of CONTROL accompanied by an exquisite obscure black and white video directed by the hand of Pieter Hugo, a South African photographer & Michael Cleary responsible for cinematography.
Accompanied by his first solo album MSHINI WAM for the BBE label with his live band also called MSHINI WAM (consisting of Nicolaas Van Reenen (guitar) Jakob Snake (drums) & South African producer Richard Rumney ) and with a Fader cover written to his name, it’s only a matter of time for Spoek Mathambo to become South African royalty and globally spitting sniper heated rhymes like “AK47″
Talking about Fader, did you know that Spoek was invited to perform live at the annual Fader Fort on SXSW Texas, sharing the stage with P Diddy, Odd Future & Lil B to mention a few. Quit a daring statement to bluntly put a somewhat unknown artist with a complete different style amongst those big shots don’t you think?
Spoek Mathambo recently joined the SUB POP label and is currently working on a new EP.
This is the story behind the Polaroid.
Waw. This must be the most late, overdue, in delay, story éver since I started this blog. I mean, almost 4 months? What happened….?!
A combination of things I’m afraid. Let’s go back to the beginning…
“I decided that I hàd to have a live performance at my party. Preferably by a fresh emerging artist that sparks my attention. So that’s why I decided to book south african artist SPOEK MATHAMBO. I will properly introduce Spoek very soon on this blog. Polaroid-wise that is.”
-written on may 1 2011-
I suggest you read the recap on my second party I did with this blog, linked here above.
I ended on a very ‘jolly jolly’ positive note, didn’t I?
If I re-read it, I can’t believe how positive I remained after all that has happened, because the consequences where not that positive.
I took a huge risk booking a 4 member South African live band, with frontman ànd accompanied manager with only 1 sponsor.
I needed 400 people to reach that breakeven. Instead I got 220. I’m a risk taker. I can deal with that. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.
Afterwards I heard that I was very lucky with the amount of people I had that night. Since that night, Belgium did not have a warmer night registered this year, and apparently several promoters made big losses because of the warm weather that night.
Now, the fact that I lost my job a month before the party wasn’t really helping either… Count in a few negative situations with money, crooked hard ball thirsty managements, trying to suck you dry although they know that there is nothing left to suck and all of sudden me throwing a party ‘for the love of it all’ turned out to be very -very- naive.
I’m a Leo, this means I take pride in what I do and failing feels like a knife stuck in my heart.
I swallowed my pride, did what I had to do and start looking for a new job while meantime going back to working behind a bar to balance out my debt I had for the PA/Sound that I could not pay immediately after the party.
A debt I felt very ashamed off. How could I not be able to pay the PA? They worked their asses of that night, delivered an excellent job in a venue where even the club owners had doubts about the quality of live performances. I had to ask them for understanding, patience and a 3 months delay on the money I owed them.
The whole “back behind the bar” thing was a very sour pill to swallow believe me. I’ve worked in hotels, restaurants, bars since I was 15 years old and at age 22 I swore that I would never go back to that type of work again. Not because I don’t have respect for it, I do, loads even, but because it was so damn heavy and controlling other aspects of my live, blocking me to leave it behind and move on up.
But I did it.
But the fact that I started to live at night again, completely took off my daily balance, and I don’t know what happened but I became very uninspired by it all. Nothing interested me anymore. And all of a sudden. I could not write a simple phrase anymore.
I felt like I was slapped in the face by my own enthusiasm, ideas and daring to be different. I started to question if I always really hàve to be positive about what happens when I do this blog, and if I really hàve to hide the negative issues that slowly popped up like ugly little Gremlins just because I don’t won’t any negativity surrounding this blog and talking about it feels like ratting out.
I’ve learned so much doing this blog. Met a lot of new interesting and inspiring people. This blog and the love for the music I portray made me grow and took me to places. But I also got hurt along the way a few times. In love and relationships. Morals or simple values that I thought were normal, are not that normal in the music industry. Fame is a nasty little beast, and friends are not really friends. Make sure you get what yòu want and don’t do too much for somebody else, just take and don’t give back. And if you possibly can, take a little bit extra and especially don’t look back.
Was that really what I wanted to talk about?
It felt like i was given a tsunami wave of bad gifts that indirectly were triggered by starting this blog and evolving and growing with it.
My precious Jules, who loyally helped me for almost 2 years with this blog is leaving Belgium for Berlin to start a new job. She already slowed down on working with the blog a few months ago to explore other things, but now she is also physically leaving the country in a few months.
Another change… and another obstacle for me, leaving me wondering how weird it was that all those things came together and what those situations were trying to tell me.
Things slowly started to clear in my head after Lefto invited me to go to Paris with him. He was spinning for Theophilus London in concert and I just simply hung around for 24h. I did not take any picture for this blog. I could if I wanted do. But I didnt. I did not collect any ‘content.’ for this blog. I just watched and hang around.
At midnight, instead of partying at Le Baron I ended up at MontMartre, with La Basilique Du Sacre Coeur shadowing me, and a nocturnal view over ‘the city of lights’, the Eiffel tower shining and shimmering and a massive full moon glowing over it all.
I came back from that trip with a determination to finish what I have started and move on from the bad things that happened.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, a line we all love to drop once in a while. I’m fighting this writers-block everyday. I never thought it was something that was actually real. I always thought it was an urban legend or something. But boy o boy, that shit is real. I don’t really consider myself a real writer, so I can only imagine what a frustration this must be if you actually are one and have books written to your name and then all of sudden. Zip Zero.
I still owe you the exhibits of me taking the Polaroid picture of Spoek Mathambo that day.
While I was writing this story and looking back to that day, something I avoided for a while, I had to stand still with the fact that I actually managed to fly over such a great artist like SPOEK MATHAMBO with the few means I had. Looking back at it, I can hardly believe I did that, because I really believe in Spoek Mathambo as an artist , he is witty, smart, his live performance is sharp as a razer and besides all that, he is a very nice human being aswell. I’m still very proud of what I tried to give to the 220 people who came to my party.
A freaking’ strong powerful live performance of something out of the ordinary all the way from South Africa.
If you haven’t seen the pictures of the night definitely them out here.
It took me some time to digest but I managed to grow stronger from the experience. I almost paid off my debt to the PA & I have a new part-time job and a breath of fresh air to take this blog to the next chapter.
A little bit tougher, a little bit more hard ball, a little less naive, and with a small scar on my heart.
What’s the moral of the story here?
Don’t be scared to do.
Don’t be scared to try.
Don’t be scared to live your ideas.
Don’t be scared to take risks.
And when things fall apart, don’t be scared to cry , pick yourself up and give it another shot. Whenever you are ready.
And àlways remember what L Boogie said:
PS: If I do what I said I would do, I need to give 1 more party in 2011. Although the idea of it is scaring me to death, I’m hoping to still put something together. Time will tell.