South African smasher kicks off 2019 for Left Ear Records

Lungile Masitha & Jimmy Mngwandi (Co-Writer & Arranger), pictured together in ’85. This snapshot is taken from their 12” single ‘Let’s Get Up’, while performing with their group ‘Image’

Melbourne’s Left Ear Records continue their output with two supreme South African dancefloor hits from the 1980s. Lungile Masitha was the short-lived studio name for renowned SA artist Sello ‘Chicco’ Twala, who played with such iconic bands as Harari and Umoja. However, in the mid 80’s his name was under license to one of the major labels and so he recorded under the name ‘Lungile Masitha’. This is how he linked up with long term friend Jimmy Mngwandi to co-write and arrange the two tracks Vuyani and Makoti, both sung in his native Tsongan tongue.

Vuyani shows off Chicco’s unique vocal style, backed with piercing drums and distorted choruses, while Makoti is a mellow blend of floating keys and choruses sung by local kids in an effort to expose “emerging talent”. It’s out now through Rushhour.

Jo’burg’s Okapi shares synth classics

Boston-based label Cultures of Soul is releasing a South African compilation selected by DJ Okapi – Boogie Breakdown: South African Synth-Disco 1980-1984. Famous for his Afrosynth blog – which has highlighted numerous treasures from the country – this selection of his homeland’s music is out in September.

Forthcoming on Cultures of Soul

Forthcoming on Cultures of Soul

Many of  the country’s best young musicians were guided by funk and the new synthesizers arriving there. A UN-sanctioned cultural boycott related to Apartheid meant much of the music remained domestic at the time. Together with Cultures Of Soul head honcho Deano Sounds this release will shine a light on six seminal acts from the era – Harari, The Cannibals, Neville Nash, Benjamin Ball, Don Laka
and Al Etto.

The music shows a period of innovation, exploration, as well as the context of isolation and political instability. Genres such as bubblegum and kwaito are the result, as well as reggae, disco and boogie fusions.

For more visit the Afro-Synth blog and the Cultures of Soul label website.

Boogie Breakdown tracklist:

A1. Cannibals – Hey Tonight
A2. Cannibals – We Keep On Keeping On
A3. Harari – Party
B1. Harari – Good Vibes
B2. Don Laka – I Wanna Be Myself
B3. Don Laka – Let’s Move the Night
C1. Neville Nash – Breakdown
C2. Neville Nash – Perfect Love
C3. Benjamin Ball – Flash A Flashlight
D1. Benjamin Ball – I Just Keep Dancing
D2. Al Etto – You’ve Got the Love
D3. Al Etto – Hold On to Love

DJ Okapi of Johannesburg

DJ Okapi of Johannesburg

“Jeff Swallom from CoS first approached me in November 2014 about putting together, and we’ve been working on it since then. The first year was about listening and choosing tracks, the second about getting the paperwork together.” There will be more in the future on WTM from DJ Okapi.

For now check out this WTM mix of kwaito, disco, boogie and more: