Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Umshika Shika Qabe - Zulu Maskandi live!

Maskanda, or maskandi, is a unique style of South African music. Traditionally it is a Zulu style that has been the domain of mainly men, but in this exciting new time we live in, anything and everything is possible!

So how would you describe it? Maskanda is distinguished by an instrumental flourish that sets the tone at the beginning of each song, picked guitar style, and rapidly spoken sections of Zulu praise poetry, called "izibongo". The content isn't always praise, though, and with pop, house and other influences colouring maskanda, it has become more about the storytelling ethic and the modern migrant culture, than simply about the musical style. (Answers.com)

One of South Africa’s biggest exports of maskanda is Busi Mhlongo (pictured right) – whose album Urbanzulu reached and stayed at the top of the World Music Charts for some 16 weeks! But other names that have made a big impact include Amashayina Amahle, Bhekumuzi Luthuli, Shiyani Ngcobo and my favourite, Madala Kunene.

The artist I would like to present is Umshika Shika Qabe who was first discovered by Madala Kunene and recorded by MELT during a visit by Airto Moreira to Durban in 1996. The recording lay dormant until 2005 when MELT released one of his tracks on Madala's album UXOLO.

The launch of the UXOLO (Peace) album was at the Bassline in Johannesburg's Newtown district and featured maskandi guitarist Umshika Shika Quabe (pictured left) who preformed with Mabi Thobejane and members of L.A.P. and Kwani Experience.

A full version DVD of the 2005 UXOLO launch is being released in the first half of 2007, including groups like Umshika Shika Quabe, Cameroonian Della Tamin (that I'll be featuring soon!), L.A.P., Greg Georgiades with Madala Kunene, Ashish Joshi & Bernard Mndaweni plus Madala Kunene's traditional group with Bernard Mndaweni, Mabi Thobejane, Gontse Makhene and Bafana Nhlapo from L.A.P.

So here is a small clip to whet your appetite! Umshika Shika Qabe live at the Bassline!

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Some boys have all the fun! Sounds interesting =)
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