Clubbers' Decktionary: Shangaan Electro
Trouble's DJ Hobbes gives us a guide to the myriad genres of clubbing
proper noun, 180-184 bpm
Dance music from South Africa, employing super-fast tempos, minimal electronic drums, with marimba and organ sounds used instead of bass and lead guitar (guitar is common in African dance music); features some vocals sampled from American music (usually pitched up) but more often vocal chants from local performers, discussing issues relating to urban malaise and other, more trite social concerns.
The Shangaan are an ethnic division of the Tsonga people, who inhabit parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland as well as the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces of South Africa. Shangaan disco dominated South Africa in the 1980s, via artists such as Penny Penny and Peta Teanet but, generally around 110 bpm, it was stuck at a much slower tempo. More recently, the dancers - which is what this music is all about (see clip below) - have started wanting to go much faster. In 2005, a producer called Nozinja, aka Dog, originally from Giyani (Limpopo) but now based in Soweto (outside Johannesburg), started writing his own music and working with other artists. Shangaan Electro was born.
Acting as a talent-scout/A&R, singer, composer, engineer, producer, manufacturer and marketing manager, not to mention printing his own artwork on silk-screen, Dog is an incredible one-stop-shop for his scene. He has won South African Grammys and allegedly sells more than 50,000 records a year exclusively on CD, DVD and cassette. As well as featuring his own compositions, his Shangaan Electro compilation (licensed for a worldwide audience by London’s Honest Jon’s label, in 2010) champions award-winning acts BBC (Black Beautiful Culture), infamous mask-wearing, dancing-clown group Tshe Tsha Boys and Tiyiselani Vomaseve, two sisters who are one of the most popular Shangaan traditional groups in South Africa and count South African President Jacob Zuma's wife, Thobeka ka-Mabhija-Zuma, among their fans.