Kwaito can be considered an authentic South African phenomenon. A new urban genre developed in the 1980s, an Afro-dance pop, mainly influenced by mbaqanga and African-American popular styles like hip hop and house. The development of kwaito began at the pinnacle of bubblegum music and when the apartheid era in South Africa was drawing to an end in 1994. Within the new democracy Kwaito soon became The Sound of Young South Africa.
Kwaito instrumentals are usually made entirely of synthesised sound. The tracks are constructed using a fusion of slowed down house music tracks (normally 100 and 120 beats per minute) and African percussion, which forms the core of the rhythmic pattern.
The lyrics in kwaito are normally not sung, but recited in rhythmic speech, usually in Isicamtho or any of the South African official languages.
The origin of the word kwaito comes from the Isicamtho word amakwaitosi (which means gangster). Amakwaitosi derives from the Afrikaans ‘kwaai’, which means strict or angry. The association of kwaito with gangsters is because kwaito in itself is all about black ghetto music. To kwaito musicians and their fans alike, the term simply implies that the tracks are ‘hot and kicking’.