Awesome Tapes From Africa reissue Umoja’s 707, South African music reigns and bubblegum is back!

The Awesome Tapes From Africa label returns after Brian Shimkovitz’s recent expedition to South Africa – resulting in this much sought after reissue of bubblegum music stars Umoja and their 1988 EP 707. The label boss and DJ also linked up with Johannesburg selector and Afro Synth record shop owner, DJ Okapi, to check out his rapidly renowned emporium.

The band’s ‘Om’ Alec Khaoli turned to the pure pop form during apartheid in the mid-‘80s and Umoja’s EP 707 was a chart-topping hit in 1988 that achieved double-platinum status. Bubblegum music was an extremely catchy township music with call-and-response vocals and synthesiser-led melodies.

Umoja translates as “oneness” or “unity” in Swahili. “Bubblegum music was about escape,” explains Khaoli. “If you had grown up in South Africa at the time, there was nothing more in your life than oppression. It was even in your dreams. Anything that was a way out was welcome…When this music was playing everyone just wanted to dance, just have a good time.”

Awesome Tapes From Africa will release Umoja’s 707 on LP/CD/Digital on May 5.

And while we’re at it, Brian posted this artifact recently:

WTM interview: Awesome Tapes From Africa

Brian Shimkovitz started Awesome Tapes From Africa in 2006. He spoke to World Treasures Music – as part of a ten-year celebration of the blog at Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds before his supreme DJ set for &/Or Emporium at Hifi nightclub – about becoming a world renowned DJ, label boss and paving the way for a range of African musicians to reach new ears and tour the world.

&/Or Emporium is exhibiting tape cover art from the Awesome Tapes From Africa blog at Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, LS2 7DY, UK, until the end of July.

Click here for the Awesome Tapes From Africa blog.

Thanks to Raf Bogan, Joe Gill + Shaun Read and all the Outlaws crew, Hifi and FSN, and of course…Brian.

Here are some of the tape covers on display: