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01.11.2021, Words by Maisie Goulsbra

The 10 Best Kwaito Releases, according to Sun-El Musician

"It wasn’t really categorised as a Kwaito song because it really crossed over and people of different nationalities, cultures and races would blast it."

Born in KwaZulu-Natal, Sanele Sithole aka Sun-El Musician is one of South Africa’s most coveted producers and most loved figureheads. His blended brand of Afro-house and dance music saw his 2018 album ‘Africa To The World’ go double-platinum, and receive nominations for ‘Best Newcomer’, ‘Record of The Year’, ‘Best Dance Album’ plus two nominations for ‘Collaboration of The Year’ at The South African Music Awards.

His recent contribution on track ‘You Need Me’ with Black Coffee elevated him to a position of musical royalty and 2020 viral sensation ‘Ubomi Abumanga’ collaborator Msaki, reappears on Sun-El Musician’s brand new album ‘African Electronic Dance Music’ that just hit shelves.

This is what he has to say about the new album: “African Electronic Dance Music, to me is not just a sound that designates a single genre but more of a sound that encompasses a style of African elements infused with EDM. It’s a modern way of exporting the African Dance sound (HouseMusic) to the rest of the world through giving it that African traditional elements of drums, rhythm, and culture.”

Kwaito, derived from the Afrikaans word ‘kwaai’, which translates to ‘angry’ in English, is a genre that emerged in the suburbs of Soweto, Johannesburg. Thought of by some as the hip hop of South Africa, it is just as much a way of life as it is a genre. Sun-El Musician talks us through some of Kwaito’s most memorable tracks below.

1. Tkzee – ‘Phalafala’

“This is the musical Kwaito group of all time. Grew up listening to these guys and I really liked how musical the songs were, you could hear the rhodes, pianos and leads and their music sounds well mixed and mastered.”

2. Mandoza – ‘Nkalakatha’

“One thing about this jam is that it wasn’t really categorised as a Kwaito song because it really crossed over and people of different nationalities, cultures and races would blast it.”

3. Thebe – ‘Ungawa Kum’

“This is no ordinary Kwaito song, he managed to fuse Kwaito with dance music and did a great job.”

4. Boom Shaka – ‘Bambanani’

“This song sounds so African, and it conveys a very important message about unity.”

5. Teargas – ‘Chance’

“This song provokes so many emotions, this was when SA hip hop was born.”

6. Pitch Black Afro – ‘Never Let U Go’

“The music production on this song is out of this world. The vocals sit perfectly on it.”

7. Brown Dash – ‘Vum Vum’

“This song is so chilled, and tells stories about Kasi love. It’s a R&B version of Kwaito, very smooth.”

8. Skwatta Kamp – ‘Umoya’

“These guys moved differently and introduced a new sound in SA. It definitely had a lot of hip hop elements as well.”

9. Zola – ‘Don’t Cry’

“A very motivational song and well written. Well produced too, my go to song for some motivation.”

10. Pro-Kid – ‘Ungaphel’ Umoya Son’

“It translates to never losing hope, well executed love everything about this song.”

‘African Electronic Dance Music’ is out now. Stream here.

Read next: The 10 Best Amapiano Tracks, according to Stonebwoy.

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10 Best