This weekend: JUJU-JUKE / SCHIESSBUDE

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Out in the streets Out in the streets Out in the streets Out in the streets…
From South Chicago to East London, from Detroit to Berlin, Dj Zhao and friends bring Polyrhythmic Bass Pressure connecting Footwork, Jungle, GhettoTech, and Drum’n’Bass.
Fuck the future, this shit is NOW.

Friday, April 25, 11:00pm
FRIDAY: Panke Gerichtstraße 23, 13347 Berlin, Germany // RSVP HERE
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Kepler (Sick Girls, Berlin)
https://soundcloud.com/kepler_bln/suedblock
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sick-Girls/238592175141

A much revered staple as part of Berlin’s rebel bass crew Sick Girls, Kepler has been defying convention, shaking clubbers out of comfort zones, and kicking major booty since you was in kindergarten. Footwork, Grime, Bass, combined with Gangsta Rap, D’n’B and Digi-Dancehall, Kepler drops all varieties of bass heavy musics with a signature sound: sick style!
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Kid Kameleon (Surya Dub, Thump, San Francisco/Berlin)
https://soundcloud.com/kidkameleon
https://www.facebook.com/kidkameleon

a Berlin-based performer pushing an eclectic mix of genre-defying bass music, his signature sound is filled with wild and complex drum patterns, head-nodding beats that range from smooth to stuttering, heavy bass and full spectrum synths that tug at your heartstrings.
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Dj Zhao (NgomaSound, Beijing/Berlin)
https://soundcloud.com/djzhao/ngoma-13-juju-juke
https://www.facebook.com/zhao.ngoma

Ancient Futurist Rhythm Ambassador Dj Zhao approaches 21st century urban sonics with a timeless sense of Afro-centric polyrhythms. Connecting diasporic bass and motherland juju, Dj Zhao’s selections and edits fuse wildly different times/places as they murder the dance floor.
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Ghettozoid (One4Ho, Houndstooth, UK/Berlin)
https://soundcloud.com/zoid/ghettozoid-ft-king-cannibal
https://www.facebook.com/Ghettozoid1

Wild style shape shifting feral child of the streets, Ghettozoid switches between London and Berlin, freaks the sub woofers like it ain’t no thang, and drops ill beats as she makes yo mama’s butt work overtime.

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SATURDAY:  I will rock this real Berlin underground party in a secret location :)

Der Frühling ist da , der Aufstand kommt und wir bewaffnen uns wieder und laden euch ein, mit uns Spatzen nach den Kanonen zu werfen und einen Tanz um den Aprilbaum zu machen. Die ehrlichste Sonne scheint nachts und den freundlichsten Hormonrausch kriegt man mit scharfen Waffen. Also betreten Sie mit uns den Garten der Unsinne, wo die Neurosen zertreten und der Rasen ruiniert wird. Denn Tanzen ist, wenn beide Füße vom Boden kommen ! Garantiert verantwortungslos und genehmigungsfrei. Freshes Frühlingsgeklopfe aus der Schiessbudegärtnerei. Dieses fachkundige Gartenbaupersonal bringt Sie in den Mutterboden:

DJ Zhao ::::::::: Orchideenorchester & Rosenmusik
2kn ::::::::::::::::: Tiefdrucktulpen & Tiefdruckdreck
Mari Mar ::::::: Hartlaubwalzer & Palmenbeat
Mätjes ::::::::::: Stachelbeerentechno
Jony Pony ::::: Frühlingszwiebelsingsang & Krokus-Hop

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Damit der Spass auch Ernst macht, gibt es wieder den “Shoot Your Own”-Schiesstand, betreut vom Drunken-Minors-Antikonfliktteam. Drücken Sie ihre Gefühle aus und drücken Sie mal ab. Wer nicht wackelt, gewinnt und die Underdogs dürfen auch zweimal.

location will be released to our mailing system shortly before the event. Register here. 

  Psssscht! Nicht weitersagen.

On Fire / Polymorphism

onfire

ON FIRE
Artistic exchange with South African Artists on gender and tradition
Curated by Constanza Macras and Tamara Saphir.

OPENING 28.02.2014 at 19h30  / Full Program

22h00 – Opening Party with DJ Zhao/ Ngoma Soundsystem and DJ Dorfdisco – FREE

Klosterstrasse 44, 10179 Berlin, Germany

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CTM Festival & Berghain präsentieren
POLYMORPHISM #11 / 07.03.2014

Untold w/ CURRENT CURRENT (live)
2562 (live)
BINTUS (live)
DJ ZHAO (dj)

http://berghain.de/event/917
http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?557401

New Years Eve will be HOT HOT HOT

 

 

I will be manning the Afro house / Global Bass floor alongside Marflix.  Going to get KERRRRR-AZAAAAY!!!!!!1459705_446752322093670_1474632164_n

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkRHfU7SjCs

get tickets NOW as they’re going fast!

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and on the 3rd of January NGOMA SOUND SYSTEM will be delivering that sweet boogie live afro-electro sound:

Tropical Timewarp Ngoma

Ngoma over Dresden

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Looking forward to jam in this historical Dresden museum tonight!

NGOMA Sound System feat:
Carmel Zoum – MC
Philip Marcel – Percussion
Dj Zhao – Dj

Südafrika kommt nach Dresden – und wir begrüßen die extravagante Kunstausstellung mit Tanz und Kunst bis tief in die Nacht! Die Sonderausstellung in der Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau „My Joburg“, die gerade mit großem Erfolg in der Pariser Stiftung La Maison Rouge – Fondation Antoine de Galbert präsentiert wurde, zeigt die äußerst
produktive Kunstszene in Johannesburg (Laufzeit: 26. Oktober 2013 bis 5. Januar 2014). Die JUNGEN FREUNDE der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen feiern diese spannende Ausstellung am Vorabend des Buß- und Bettages mit der Party LIPSIUS VIBES. Bis Mitternacht sind Live-Speaker in der Ausstellung, die mit Euch über „My Joburg“ ins Gespräch kommen wollen, dazu versprechen DJ und Liveact eine aufregende Nacht.

Anlässlich zu LIPSIUS VIBES erklingt im Untergeschoss der Sound der afrikanischen Musikszene, zu dem getanzt werden darf: Kwaito, Kuduro, Soukous. Dazu haben wir das NGOMA SOUNDSYSTEM eingeladen, eine musikalische Einheit, bestehend aus DJ,
Live Instrumenten und Vocals – mal zu zweit, zu dritt oder zu fünft. NGOMA SOUNDSYSTEM spielen traditionell afrikanische-weltliche Rhythmen, urbane Bassklänge und hypnotisch elektrische Töne. Der passende Sound zur Ausstellung, auf den man sich freuen kann.

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Infinite Rhythms

 Rocking with MC extraordinaire and Ninjatune recording artist Infinite Livez:   Friday 1st of November at Cosmic Kaspar:
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Infinite Livez (Ninjatune, Exotic Pylon / London/Berlin)
www.infinitelivez.com
Born in Bethnal Green. Trained at Chelsea Art College. Released his first album (Bushmeat) in 2004 on Big Dada records. Released his second album in 2007 with Big Dada as a collaborative project with the Swiss electro jazz outfit Stade (Art Brut Fe De Yoot). Has worked with producers such as Blufoot, M3 and Part 2. Enjoys making comic books, short films and soft toys. Puts out his own improvised noise CDs. Used to design Gameboy graphics. Is a former FKO Raw freestyle battle champ. Likes Sun Ra, Wesley Willis, David Bowie, Public Image, Willus Drummond, and Funkadelic. Has reoccurring dreams of the end of the world. Lost his prize Barry Convex puppet. Lives in Berlin.
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and on Saturday night:
INFINITE LIVEZ - live set/host/ Infinite Livez of Big Dada/ Exotic Pylon
will be performing his infamous solo set that he has been busy perfecting during his excursion in Berlin. Expect an mixture of experimental noise, stream of consciousness rapping and live beat making from the London born emcee who is normally known for his work with Electro Jazz pioneers Stade.   http://www.infinitelivez.com
Dj Zhao - dj set
Dj Zhao brings the best contemporary and classic dance music together from wildly different times and places, with focus on Africa. Expected a schooling in the latest of global sounds such as Afro-Electro, Angolan-House, Kuduro, Coupe Decale, Naija, Rai, and Cumbia. As he draws upon a wealth of sonic traditions worldwide to provide a blend of mind expanding and floor smashing musical collages.    www.ngomasound.com

NGOMA @ Club Nüba, Paris

zhao_paris_websorry for the last minute heads up, been too crazy.  But let your Parisian friends know, surely to be a night to remember:  the premiere of a new series from the basstastique Bazzerk crew, at what many say is the hottest joint in the city on a rooftop with amazing view.  Psyched to be playing also with the legendary ambassador of deep French Caribbean groove Hugo Mendez of Sofrito again.   Boom! paris01 paris02 paris_j+C+Z

The Space Between Us

Space Between Us
PARTY 
9 October, 10pm / open end
WAU, Wirtshaus am Ufer, Hallesches Ufer 32, 10963 Berlin
DJ Zhao, Stefanie Alisch, Mma Tseleng, Bongani Madondo, Garnette Cadogan, Kimba Mutanda u.a. // Kwaito / SA-House / Kuduro / Juju / Shangaan

………..

CONVENTION 
7 – 9 October, daily from 4 to 9 pm / Täglich von 16 bis 21 Uhr in English
Picnicrecords: Stendaler Straße 4, 10559 Berlin/Moabit

Music is a companion in the trans-African movement display.
Stefanie Alisch, Rangoato Hlasane, Bongani Madondo, Kagiso Mnisi, Garnette Cadogan, Charles Mudede, Kimba Mutanda, Tanka Fonta, DJ Zhao, Alfred Mehnert and others will talk about, play music and touch on relations and shifts in the trans-African space.
Broadcasts and podcasts of the convention will be available on air on REBOOT FM

talks by the other guest speakers are here.

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PROGRAM:

Monday 07.10 – Echoes, back and forth
12:00 am Visit of the exhibition THE SPACE BETWEEN US at ifa-Gallery Berlin
04:00 pm Opening & welcome at Picnicrecords
04:30 – 05:30 pm Rangoato Hlasane & Kagiso Mnisi, Sekele – Bitsa Maphodisa: Street-bash as a marker of space for black youth in post-apartheid South Africa
06:00 – 06:30 pm Garnette Cadogan

Tuesday 08.10 – Writing: about / against /down /with
04:30 – 05:00 pm Charles Mudede, About Drumming
05:30 – 06:30 pm Dj Zhao (Ngoma Soundsystem, Berlin) The vitality of African musical
heritage and its deep connection to music today and tomorrow.
07:30 – 08:00 pm Bongani Madondo, Malombo & Ma-Mlambo
Healer’s Brew:Blues, African Healing Systems and the Punk in JAH’zz
– in discussion with Kagiso Mnisi and Alfred Mehnert, Percussion

Wednesday 9 October – Telling
04:30 – 05:00 pm Tanka Fonta, Being, Music, Confluences & the Evolution of Expressions
05:30 – 06:30 pm Stefanie Alisch, “The future’s what it’s all about” – Broken Beat London
07:00 – 07:30 pm Kimba Mutanda, The personal journey of a Hip Hop artist from Malawi,
told from the meeting point between traditional and modern times
10:00 pm – open end Party – with Rangoato Hlasane, Kagiso Mnisi, Garnette Cadogan, Dj Zhao, Stefanie Alisch, Kimba Mutanda

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Music Convention in collaboration with / in Kooperation mit
 Holger Zimmermann, Picnicrecords, Stendaler Straße 4, 10559 Berlin, www.picnicrecords.com
 | Diana McCarty, REBOOT FMhttp://reboot.fm | After Year Zero, Geographies of Collaboration since 1945, Haus der Kulturen der Weltwww.hkw.de/de/programm/2013/after_year_zero/

THE SPACE BETWEEN US, ifa-Galerie Berlin, 27.9.-22.12.2013 www.ifa.de  | | Funded by Auswärtiges Amt, Aktion Afrika |  Hauptstadtkulturfonds |  Goethe Institut Johannesburg

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PARTY-ARTY

PARTY ARTY vol.42
a night of vibes from different tribes fused and hosted by Yaneq
PartyArty
3.10.2013
Ritter Butzke, Lobeckstr. 30-35, Berlin-Kreuzberg
………..
21:00 Hof: BBQ und Livepainting
22:00 Black Floor: Spoken Word
23:00 Ölfasslager: Elektro
24:00 Hütte: Afro
………..
Musik:
MISSILL (Paris)
SICK GIRLS
FEMALE MACHO
DJ ZHAO (Ngoma Sound)
NOMAD ( Vulkandance / W.T. records )
MC CARMEL ZOUM
………..
Kunst:
ATEM aka IL-JIN CHOI / MISSILL / NOMAD / BOSSO FATAKA
………..
Spoken Word:
WOLF HOGEKAMP / FRANK KLÖTGEN / GAUNER / YANEQ
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COMING UP
03.10 – Ritter Butzke (Berlin) 
09.10 – WAU (Berlin) 
01.11 – Cosmik Kaspar (Berlin) 
02.11 – Eschloraque (Berlin) 
08.11 – TBA (LInz, Austria) 
15.11 – Ethnologische Museum (Berlin)
19.10 – Bohannon (Berlin)
19.11 – lipsiusbau (Dresden) 
30.11 – Engel & Weiss (Cologne) 
20.12 – Cosmik Kaspar (Berlin)

 

BEAT PASSAGE / Sat.28.09.2013

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Official “PERPETUAL TRAVELLERS” After Party @ Savvy

“Every point is a relay and exists only as a relay. A path is always between two points, but the in-between has taken on all the consistency and enjoys both an autonomy and a direction of its own. The life of the nomad is the intermezzo. Even the elements of his dwelling are conceived in terms of the trajectory that is forever mobilizing them.” – Deleuze & Guattari, Mille Plateux

A musical deterritorialization of consumerist club culture; a rhyzomatic Sonic War Machine destroying all borders and prejudice!!!

DJ Zhao [Ngoma/Berlin]
https://soundcloud.com/djzhao
https://www.facebook.com/zhao.ngoma
www.ngomasound.com

DJ Aleksey
https://soundcloud.com/the_real_aleksey
www.facebook.com/Funk.im.tank

SAVVY Contemporary has a new super cool basement space for music and dance, and this will be the first ever party in it :)

Cost: FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Mother Ship Landing // Coming up

SweetMother1 Ab dem 21.09 gibt es jeden ersten und dritten Samstag im Monat die heißesten Sounds vom afrikanischen Kontinent. Afrobeats, Azonto, Coupé Décalé, Ndombolo, Zouk und Kuduro sind nur einige der Musikarten welche es bei Sweet Mother zu hören gibt. In dem angenehmen Ambiente des Bohannon werden DJs aus ganz Europa Berlin zum Schmelztiegel der modernen afrikanischen Musikszene machen. Clubhits von Lagos bis Accra, von Yaoundé bis Kinshasa, von Nairobi bis Johannesburg werden ohne Verzögerung bei Sweet Mother zu hören sein.

Zur Eröffnungsparty wird mit DJ Zhao DER Experte für moderne afrikanische Musik an den Plattentellern stehen. Der gebürtige Chinese hat bereits in den weltweit besten Clubs die Tanzflächen zu den aktuellsten afrikanischen Hits zum kochen gebracht. Des weiteren wird DJ Zyto, die Berliner DJ Legende und Aushängeschild der lokalen Afro Szene, für beste Unterhaltung sorgen. Saturday 21/September // 11:00pm until 6:00am Bohannon Dircksenstr 40, 10178 Berlin, Germany  //// FACEBOOK

coming up:

21.09 – Bohannon (Berlin)
27.09 – Schlachthof Wiesbaden (Mainz)
03.10 – Ritter Butzke (Berlin)
09.10 – Lupita (Berlin)
19.10 – Bohannon (Berlin)
01.11 – Cosmik Kaspar (Berlin)
02.11 – Eschloraque (Berlin)
08.11 – TBA (LInz, Austria)
15.11 – Ethnologische Museum (Berlin)
19.11 – lipsiusbau (Dresden)
30.11 – Engel & Weiss (Cologne)
20.12 – Cosmik Kaspar (Berlin)

Concert reviews: Jagwa, Ebo Taylor, Jaliba Kuyateh, Antibalas

Berlin has been blessed this Fall/winter with many truly amazing out of this world vibes from the motherland and diaspora.  Here are some brief personal accounts: Image

Jagwa Music: flux power trance vibration from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, playing a style of music with Chakacha roots known as Mchiriku, in Ritter Butzke, to a well attended but not packed house — Simply the most mathematically advanced and spiritually evolved music on earth in 2012.  4 percussionists produces robust, intricate, lattice work of dizzying interlocking rhythms: bass drum powerfully driving with the force of a monsoon, but no steady kicks, instead coming in unpredictable yet intuitive waves of intense clusters; smaller drums bang out unfathomably complex patterns not easily recognizable yet infinitely swinging — constantly changing yet always staying the same.  1 keys player emits sonorous sustained tones from a little keyboard, dexterous and serpentine, sounding somewhere between a church organ and Acid Mother’s Temple.  On top of it all is the singing/yelping of the vocalist, the very embodiment of defiant ecstatic energy.  Fierce and urgent: we have no time to waste, and must transcend tedious quotidian planes of existence NOW, simultaneously feeling the moments of this reality with more intensity.  I talked 2 random guys standing outside asking “what kind of music is it?” into coming in, and they were jumping and getting soaked in sweat with me in the very front for the entire show, and then bought CDs after.  The skill, beauty, energy and sheer spirit of this music is undeniable to anyone, with specialized tastes or not.  They do have slower songs too but the expression “Ape-Shit” would be an understatement in describing my behavior during some parts of the evening…  Now my other all time favorite live band in the history of the universe, besides Konono No. 1: Jagwa Music Rocks harder than Rock, is Funkier than Funk, and more danceable than dance music.

ImageLegendary Highlife guitarist Ebo Taylor from Ghana and his band Afrobeat Acadamy played to a packed house in Kater Holzig.  Not as typically classic Ghanaian High Life as i would have preferred, but this timeless polyrhythmic West African funk was of course irresistible.  With the horn section not as in your face as with some other bands, and the guitars taking a more important role, the music is sweet as it is funky with a sensuous groove.  A band like this, playing 70s African styles sells out big stages in Paris and medium ones in Berlin: this means western audiences need 30 to 40 years to catch up to Africa.  So at this rate, by 2040 or 2050 Jagwa will be rocking the kind of huge crowds in Europe they should be doing right now – when band members are in their 70s.

photo by DJ Matar

Complex, masterful, and deeply funky music not pandering to simplistic Western tastes and not sanctioned by the hipster elite: Jaliba “King of Kora” Kuyateh and his awesome 8 piece Mbalax band from Senegal played for 50 local Gambian and Senegalise expats in a classroom of a Turkish community center, complete with unstable florescent lights: either super bright like in a super market, or plunging the room in total darkness.  Beautiful, stately, and sublime performance despite bad conditions and technical difficulties: in a just world this concert would have been in Staatsoper Unter den Linden (state opera house).Jaliba comes from the Mande tradition but has updated the sound to include a drum set, and bass guitars, making a fusion type of music which is to be sure primarily Senegalise, but sometimes with a touch of reggae and funk influence.  As each tune gets going, the culturally attired audience would, according to tradition, all get up off of their seats to make US dollar bills rain on the musicians, and sometimes sticking them into the man’s Kora as he is playing it (see photo above).

These behaviors which to the uneducated Western eye perhaps seem strange or even respectless and characteristic of low-class entertainment (strip clubs come to mind), are of course signs from a vastly complex and nuanced tradition which date all the way back to the Malian Empire of the 14th Century.  Curious about the Griots’ art and tradition, i am reading the book Griots at War: Conflict, Conciliation, and Caste in Mande, by i think the only Western person to ever become accepted as a Griot in Mali.  The entire volume of her fascinating experiences which tell of an ancient culture and its interwoven socio-political as well as artistic aspects is downloadable in E-book form here.

Sunday night at Bi Nuu, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra played a largely secret last show of a European tour.  Their take of Afrobeat is much more angular, rigid, and rawkus compared to Ebo Taylor’s band, and making often use of the 1-2 duple rhythm as one would expect from North America. Intensely political, with lyrics about the global prison state of mind and other forms of pandemic oppression, the music is fast and fiery.  The sound guy was mixing them as a rock band, with the Congas barely even audible until i actually requested to him that they be turned up louder…  This music seems to fill and struggle against the very boundaries, limitations and framework of the genre, so tight as to leave no breathing space, imbuing a sense of claustrophobia as well as anxiety and frustration, which is appropriate for the subject matter of the songs.

South Africa Tour 2012

Additional shows:

Fri. 28/09 —- Disofeng Dobsonville
Sat. 29/09—– Club Ozone (N. West)

Sat. 29/09 — Panyaza (with Zinhle)
Sun. 05/10 -– Panyaza
Sat. 06/10 — Vintage life style (pimville)
Sun. 7/10 -— Mofolo Park Stadium (w/ Nick Holder)
Sun. 7/10 -— Pandora Chesa Nyama (Ekhuruleni)
Sun. 7/10 -— Liquid Chef (Rosebank)

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(for a version of this article without so many photos, go to This Is Africa.)downtown Johannesburg

At once after touch-down i noticed the modern, international air of Johannesburg, which looked wealthy and stable; and of the friendly, smartly dressed and hip Africans around me, who seemed as informed as anyone in the East Village or London.  But soon a more complex picture emerges.

Soweto (South Western Township – photo curtesy of Sacha Evans)

One’s experience of any city can be of course very different depending on where and with whom you spend time.  For the grumpy travel writer Paul Theroux, arriving by bus from Botswana, Joburg was scary; for a media person i met in Berlin prior to the trip it was boring, having experienced only the affluent suburbs; for me, it was charming, exhilarating, sad, endearing, informative, familiar, strange, challenging, inspiring, frustrating, and awesome.(part of the) Paint of Coloured Streets team – bigup bigup bigup bigup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!dude on the right is kwaito star Professor’s brother.shot of city center (close to business district) from inside a taxi, parked outside of a shop which was blasting Dj Cleo. outside of Chaf Pozi (below), a club/restaurant located underneath and between the 2 painted towers, from which you can also bungee jump.This was a water-testing show…  went pretty well, and as an educational experience it was very valuable as afterwards i had a much better feeling for SA crowds.A Chinese person in Soweto must be an extremely rare occurance; and i have been assured that i was the very first to ever enter a local club, not to mention on stage, behind dj decks.  Yet the most extreme reaction from strangers to this very odd anomaly were curious glances, welcoming smiles and delightful disbelief before my sets started, and high fives, cries of joy and hugs when my different but surely recognizable sounds begin.  Nearly everyone i met were friendly, inclusive, warm, and open minded; the only garden variety asshole who did not shake my hand when offered, rude and almost hostile, was this dj who spun, perhaps not so incidentally, top-40 American Rap.   my main dude Mpho.  Bongani with a wicked MC Hammer haircut!A soul singer which i regrettably did not end up jamming with…  next time!  Soweto TV interview, which aired weekend of 29 September.  Also did a short interview with CCTV (funny enough they just happened to be at Chaf Pozi because it was National Heritage Day), as well as Channel-O “Basement” show: 1 hour live video mixing, first time manual beat matching in 6 years, classic Kwaito and Mzansi House 1 take at 10am after 3 hours sleep the night before… will be on rotation all over Africa in the coming weeks.  this was a rather cheesy club located within a casino, the only mixed crowd i played to during the entire tour.mixed crowd, unified response!Among the live acts was Family Business – sweet and groovy original dance pop, SA’s answer to D’banj and P-Square?  5 hours at the Museum of Apartheid rendered razor sharp the reality of life under the system named by this Afrikaans/Dutch word, a word which was only an abstraction for me before.  The systematic oppression and violence against South Africans in every sphere of life continued in broad day light until 1994: slave labor, abject work conditions and low wages; suppression of education and erasure of African culture; lack of health care; forced segregation; forced relocation of entire communities; normalized hunger, disease, depression; routine degradation, humiliation and violence – a system in which “people were arrested, abused, beaten and banished for trifles”.   People who fought for equality and justice (including a few coloureds and whites), who were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered by the police, were nothing but Terrorists in the eyes of most world governments, until as recent as 2008 (when Nelson Mandela was finally taken off of the US Terrorism Watch List).  Many nations continued to not only tolerate, but collaborate with the “followers of Goebbels” (Nadine Gordimer) which was the Apartheid regime, until the very end.

All such official edifices to crimes of the state against humanity, be it a museum like this or streets named after civil rights leaders, tell 2 big lies at the same time as acknowledge and commemorate. The establishment makes the struggle seem 1. a part of the past, instead of very much ongoing, and 2. a part of itself, instead of its actual enemy in real life, as it has always been, and currently is.  As i absorbed the collection of photographs, films, recordings, text, and objects in this museum (yes, owned by a white guy) which document but a tip of the Apartheid iceberg, i kept in mind of the fact that many injustices continue and that the struggle is far from over.

in 2012, 10% of the population in South Africa is white, yet own 90% of the land (info from a director at the Museum), and hold most of the high paying jobs.  With the influx of refugees and impoverished immigrants from other African countries, and add to it corrupt politicians, there is a high level of income inequity.  And where ever there is uneven wealth distribution, there is of course crime. in Soweto, which is obviously still very poor, it is actually very safe because of tightly knit communities and their brand of tough street justice.  In the rich areas it is also relatively safe because of high security.  But in the black suburbs between Soweto and city center and many other areas, where i stayed, it is not good to go out alone at night, as muggings, robberies, and car-jackings are fairly common.

During my 3 week stay close to Soweto, besides the malls in city center (Sandton), a cheesy mixed club within a casino, and tourists in the museum, i saw 6 or 7 white people (who comprise 10% of the population), and 0 East Asians (despite there being hundreds of thousands living in the city).  In Sandton groups of friends were nearly always of the same ethnic background, and i saw no mixed race couples at all (but many flamboyant pretty boys holding hands, which was refreshing).  The separateness of social spheres in Johannesburg along lines of class and race seems, in my estimation, significantly more pronounced than NYC or Paris.The legendary Panyaza is a world famous spot where people eat fresh braai (BBQ) and rock to pumping South African House and Kwaito delivered by a constant rotation of DJs.  An outdoor area enclosed by shops under a huge tent holding 1000 people or more, every Sunday the party starts at noon, gets packed by 2pm, and good vibes flow steadily late into the night.  The best sets i heard were deep, techy and tribal house: funky, driving, and percussive, sometimes with vocals in Zulu and other languages, and that unmistakeable South African oomph: “woza woza wozawozawozawoza”.   The patrons are very picky, and are known to shut DJs down after the first 5 minutes.  The music policy basically boils down to the phrase “no mainstream”, but the word must have slightly different meaning than in Europe and America, as a few played tunes infused with Kenny G type smooth jazz, or cliche R’n’B crooning.  My set around dusk of mostly classic Ngoma mashups and edits in the 125bpm range, which included Yoruba Ritual Singing, Ghanaian Jazz, traditional South African drumming and Ethiopian funk all underpinned by Afro-House beats and bass, won over not only the crowd but the club owners and resident djs – the booker welcomed me back any time, and told me on Facebook 1 week later that people were still asking about it.  Some mistook the Cameroonian, Pigmy derived flutes of Francis Bebey on one of the edits for Chinese music, which was funny but also makes sense: thise flutes do have an unmistakeable East Asian feel.  The sun set as the rhythms got heavier – an unforgettable night.  

In a place where the parents of people my age nearly all love Kwaito and new House Music (quick to enter into a discussion of Dj Clock’s recent releases, for example), the “underground” and what constitutes it is also different from the West.  Without much generational gap or cultural fragmentation, In South Africa the word seems to mostly mean “music which has not yet made it big”, including the freshest sounds in the streets (Sgubu, for instance, is a new breed of house music stemming from the Mujava camp in Pretoria) I was very disappointed to find out, after searches in vain, that distribution channels for such new sounds simply do not exist in Joburg, often the only access is directly from the artists themselves, at their gigs.  In a country so rich with rhythmic and musical ideas it is sad to see so little infrastructure, compared to the rows of neatly stacked white label just-out-this-week dance 12 inches in the specialty shops of rhythmically impoverished Europe. In fact Independent record shops are themselves a rarity in Joburg; there are only, often not well stocked, chain outlets.  proper party at Club Ozone in North-West Township, a few hours from Joburg – madness!  At this i was able to drop the hard and up-tempo crazy bass set (with plenty of NGOMA percussion edits of course), and the place went bananas!  This big outdoor event had a “retro” theme, to which some local fashion labels came out to represent.  Mixing up traditional African tribal decorative motifs, patterns, and jewelry with classic western designs and contemporary global trends, the funky outfits from chic and elegant to eye-brows raising unusual were just as deliciously creative and wonderfully varied, often as refined and polished, as style on the hippest streets of Tokyo.  One girl pulled off a stunning Goth B-girl Lolita Glam outfit the way only an African beauty can, and next to her a handsome dude in a well fitting thin tweed jacket, Keffiyeh and knee high boots, successfully combining professor, outdoorsman, and international hipster protest.  But the sad thing is they told me their brand was “Ancient Reality” (which particularly resonates with me), and that all i have to do is google to find contacts — but later when i tried many searches there was not a single mention of them on any web pages at all.  (apologize for lack of more and better photos of some of these great outfits, but if you look closely at the photos above, you can see 1 or 2 indications of what i’m on about)

Althought there is a LOT of great music in Joburg, people’s general taste reflects the business and industrial nature of the city: more commercial compared to places like Pretoria or Durban. But much more troubling is that, judging from my new friends who are really into music, other djs and everyone i spoke to, people in Joburg all know and accept mainstream American ( c )rap and generic Euro Ibiza fodder, but have very little to no idea about new movements in other parts of Africa such as Angolan House, Kuduro, Hiplife or Naija; and no exposure to underground sounds from the West such as UK Funky, Juke, or Moombahton (there are now parties which play Dubstep and Drum’n’Bass, usually of the predictable variety).  And when it comes to the incredibly varied and bottomless wealth of African traditional music, South Africans generally seem just as ignorant as Europeans or Americans, having never even heard of Soukous (!). And like many Post Colonial theorists have pointed out, the South to South communication lines desperately needs to be opened: South Africans seem entirely disconnected from India or South America: when i mention Cumbia, Tribal Guarachero, Baile Funk or Bhangra, the response is blank stares.

Glossy US exports with high production value is generally valued more than local culture, which is to me, without a doubt, artistically, intellectually, much more sophisticated, beautiful, and rewarding.  When i asked for Shangaan music people in the shops all thought it was HILARIOUS, and start to do little sarcastic rump shaking dances.  Even though it is clear that they all enjoy it, they have to make fun of the music because it is not “cool” at all, being perceived as rural and backwards – no one knows that in 2011 the Shangaan tour rocked Berlin’s Berghain, one of the top 10 most famous and prestigious dance clubs in all of Europe.

Life in South Africa is saturated with Kanye and Beyonce, Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince, McDonalds and KFC.   Agents like these make up the current tide of insidious cultural imperialism, which asserts dominance with pure economic might, while marginalizing, replacing, and destroying local narratives, melodies, and forms.  Between 2 reputable book sellers in Joburg, they had exactly 2 books by black South African writers, while Eurocentric versions of history is taught in schools.  With the now adult generation largely deprived of higher education under Apartheid, and the quality of the current under funded education system being among the lowest in the world, US hegemonic brainwashing is particularly effective.

Between 2 reputable book sellers in Joburg, they had exactly 2 books by black South African writers. i picked up one of them by Zakes Mda, (the other one being rare and expensive), along with Jay Naidoo, Rian Malan, and several by Nadine Gordimer. Luckily was given a biography of Julius Malema, and found some titles from other parts of the continent: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Osita Okoroafor, Ferdinand Oyono, and Nozip Maraire.   What i was told is that books by black authors, especially the conscious, which is to say often outlawed or exiled ones, were never printed in large quantities if not banned altogether, often circulating only in the underground, and many or most remain out of print.

if the world is living in “the long intellectual shadow of the Age of European Empire” (Satya Mohanty), South Africa is reeling in the immediate aftermath of Apartheid.  Yet despite ongoing segregation and injustices as well as foreign cultural infestation, vibrant and strong forms of local cultures survive, mutate, and thrive.

This is all of course, only a tiny slice of life in 1 city in South Africa…  i can not wait to get to know the other parts.   Big love and thanks to Mpho, Bongani, Jackie, Hermina, Gugu, and the Paint of Coloured Streets team!!!

FUSION FESTIVAL 2012

For the 5th year in a roll, Fusion Festival going to get proper NGOMATIZED Friday 29. June 7-10pm on the Querfeld stage, featuring, for the first time, the mind bending tones and textures of Austrian Trombonist/Multi-Instrumentalist Werner Puntigam, alongside resident drummer Marcel and dj zhao. Will be a Northern Tropikal set in true Afro-Futurist spirit to remember.

UPDATE:  When Werner first started going in with the Trombone i felt actual fear.  Beautiful monster sounds like a hundred whales or a solar eclipse.  The sheer power, finesse, and extraordinary sense of composition this man who comes from an improvisation and free-jazz background brought was simply immense.  (Very different feeling from our set last year with trumpeter El Congo) Together with my deep and hard Afro-Tech selections and Marcel’s dexterous drumming, this proper Northern Tropikal set raised a thunder storm which caused entire Fusion Festival to be shut down for 15 minutes.

video was shot by 2 great film makers from Spain on 5 cameras, soon come!

DJ Zhao Summer Tour 2012


Belgrade, Serbia, Mikser Festival

second time dropping Juju-Juke: after an awesome set by awesome tapes people were ready to go crazy.  160bpm Afro-Bass Explosion, 500 screaming Serbs, mosh-pit at 2am.

Passau Germany – Hakuna Matata Festival
super fun times with The Pipelines and DalaDala at this dope festival in a small town close to Munich deep in the heart of Bavaria.  for 4 days city center was filled with awesome motherland culture, music, and food.  the Neo Nazis were scared and didn’t dare show up!  
After Party:

America…  how i love love love and hate you so much!!!   was strange to be back after being away for 5 years…  open, intelligent and fun people, so much excitement, so much to see hear do, so much good food… and also advertising overload and intense class division which breeds a fundamental and ubiquitous societal tension of a kind which Germany has no idea…  i guess besides failure of the social contract this friction can also lead to good music :)
Boston:
Chicago:
Philladelphia
NYC:
DC (more photos coming):

so this was totally awesome sauce. so many great new friends, awesome vibes, and dope nights. (and amazing food!) so much fun, positivity and inspiration…bigup Dutty Arts, Sonic Diaspora, Anthology of Booty, Music Ecology, and all the crews and individuals who made it possible.next year it will be your turn West Coast! brrrrrrraaaap!