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: