What is 'Kwaito' and 'Fourth World'?

As SA music continues its steady jive into the world music spotlight, two slang buzzwords are increasingly being used to describe new categories of SA music. In Britain the music writers are constantly striving to create names for what they hope will be the big new 'thing' on the music scene. Genres such as 'Britpop' and 'Romo' are but two recent attempts to describe emerging styles.

In SA the new 'big thing' is Kwaito, which is simply South African produced black dance music. To quote Tim White ..."Kwaito emerged in 1992 when young local black music producers started to mix international R 'n B and house music with local rhythms and basslines to create a fresh new style. Its tempo is slow with massive organ basslines and gimmicky vocals. As techno has invaded and dominated the white market of dance music for the past few years, so has Kwaito had the same effect on the black market. Every weekend you'll find thousands of people stomping to Kwaito at 'Bashes' (the equivalent of black raves) throughout the land."

Most of the more successful exponents of Kwaito have their CDs available in the Kwaito section of our ONE WORLD online CD store. M'du, Mashamplani, Thebe, Skeem, Chiskop, Vibe Lezinto and Arthur (whose "Kaffir" single has achieved a combination of 'eyebrow-raising and jaw-dropping' crossover appeal).

'Fourth World', however, is merely a name given to all those SA artists who refuse to fit snugly into a defined musical category, except for the one called 'Uniquely South African with wide International appeal'. This group would include Johnny Clegg, Tananas, Tony Cox, Bayete and the Soweto String Quartet.
Stephen Segerman (sugar@cd.co.za)

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