Born in the early 90’s during the end of apartheid in South Africa, Kwaito music represented an expression of freedom in the streets of Soweto. An Urban Ghetto which formed the heart of the struggle that continued to feel repercussions from decades of oppression with crime riddled streets. Kwaito became the voice of the youth, it represented the township, a sense of pride and freedom of expression in the form of music. Musically illustrated through the hit single ‘Kaffir’ by Arthur Mafokate. The ‘999’ head honcho projected these voices beyond the Kasi to become a local phenomenon, earning him the title “King of Kwaito’. Three decades later, we still LOVE Kwaito & we still LIVE Kwaito…

1. M’Du – Tsiki Tsiki

Label: Teal Records (1994)

M’du Masilela set the Kwaito scene on fire in the early 90s. Known as the Godfather of music and trademarked by his killer bass lines, M’du gave Kwaito the strong musical influence it was often criticised for lacking. First released on cassette in 94 the sales of Tsiki Tsiki saw M’du quickly at the top of the kwaito food chain. Producing hit after hit with the likes of Mashamplani, Mawillies and Trompies, so it comes with no surprise that he gets immortalised in the Kwaito hall of fame!

2. Joe Nina – Ding Dong

Label: Roy B. Records (1994)

Joe Nina was born Makhosini Henry Xaba in Ekurhuleni Kwa Thema on June 12th 1974. Ding Dong is the 1994 breakthrough second album of Joe Nina. Both the album and the title track “Ding Dong” became major hits. To date, Joe Nina has released more than 10 albums, including ‘Unchained’ (2009) and ‘Back Together 4 Life’ (2014). He has also produced and written songs for more than 50 artists, including Ringo Madlingozi and The African Jazz Pioneers, also working alongside Victor Ntoni, Ray Phiri, Sibongile Khumalo, Tsepo Tshola, Babsy Mlangeni, Patricia Majalisa, Sharon D and countless others. He also runs his own label, Killa Joe Records.

3. Trompies – Sigiya Ngengoma

Label: Galo Music (1994)

Trompies were formed in the late 90’s the group is made of four members, namely Jarious “Jakarumba” Khuse, Mandla “spikiri”Mofokeng, Zyne”Mahoota” Sibiki, and Eugine”Donald duck” Mthethwa. Sigiya Ngengoma released in 94 swept through the townships with the groups trademark Pantsula style, giving it a platform to become the culture which we all identify with and love to this day.

4. Arthur Mafokate – Kaffir

Label: CCP (1995)

Released in 1995, the song is not as politically incorrect as the title may suggest. In fact, a large part of the lyrics are a plea to ‘baas, don’t call me a kaffir’. which reflects the political freedom black people were experiencing under the newly elected ANC government. Arthur Mafokate started out as a dancer, performing with the likes of Brenda Fassie, but it was with ‘Kaffir’, which is widely regarded as the first kwaito hit, that he made his breakthrough through the townships of South Africa.

5. Skeem – Waar Was Jy

Label: Ghetto Ruff (1996)

Skeem Waar Was Jy was released in 1996 and was one of Ghetto Ruff’s most successful albums, reinventing Kwaito with a strong R&B/HipHop flavour. Produced by some of South Africa’s finest artists/producers, Shaheen Ariefdien, Ready D & Ishmael with Mark and KB behind the mixing desk to engineer a sound that would resonate for many generations to come.

6. Mawillies – Intwenjani

Label: Universal Music (1997)

Mawillies ( Born William Bongani Makhubela )18 April 1969 – 19 March 2008 South African Kwaito Musician known for Kwaito hits such as Intwenjani, Thula Mabota & more. Intwenjani represents some of the raw and unique sounds of Kwaito that took shape in the streets of Soweto establishing itself as a revolutionary genre in the early 1990s.

7. TKZee – Palafala

Label: BMG Records Africa (1997)

TKZee is a South African Kwaito music group formed by three school friends, Tokollo Tshabalala, Kabelo Mabalane, and Zwai Bala. The group shot to prominence in late 1997 and early 1998 with their hit singles Palafala and Shibobo. Still known today as one of South Africa’s biggest Kwaito groups, producing tracks like Palafala which were remixed a hundred times for its catchy melody and lyrics.

8. Makhendlas – Iminwe

Label: 999 (1998)

Another production by the self-proclaimed king of Kwaito, Arthur Mafokate. Rising to fame quickly, superstar Oupa Makhendlas Mafokate sadly became a victim of South Africa’s dark underbelly and lost his life. Young, talented and black, a story we all know too well and a reality which South Africa has not been able to alter through generations of change.

9. TKZEE – Shibobo

Label: BMG (1997)

Shibobo” was a single release for the 1998 Worldcup by TKZEE. Following the lead of the England 90′ soundtrack “World in Motion” featuring John Barnes, TKZEE included Benni McCarthy which helped the track see similar success and popularity across South Africa. A catchy chorus with an epic melody seen Shibobo accelerate pass 100k sales within a month and could be one of the fastest selling Kwaito singles ever!

10. Alaska 2000 – Accuse

Label: Kalawa Jazmee (1999)

Alaska consisted of 5 members, Lucky Mlakana, Thabo ‘Crazy’ Tsotetsi, Les Ma-ada, Andrew Moloisane, and Siphiwe ‘Picat’ Sibeko. They are well known for hits such as “Accuse” and “Hosher.” Notably formed by Oscar ‘Oskido’ Mdlongwa and Bruce Sebitlo who together started redefining the sound of Kwaito bringing in a steady beat closely coupled with melodic keys which followed the beat introducing elements of house music. Arguably, the instrumental of Alaska seen more popularity for this very reason and created a foundation for the next generation of Kwaito evolution. On this note we pay tribute to front-man Les Ma-ada whom we sadly lost way too early in his life journey. RIP…

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