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LA CASA TROPICAL

The start of the 90's brought the final wave of house music that would cement it as the future of South Africa’s music scene. in the years leading up to the new decade, disco had already naturally evolved into the very early stages of what would become South Africa’s signature house sound, with instrumentals and dub mixes earning themselves spots on the Pantsula records leading the charts of the late 80s, it would be an influx of remixes appearing on import singles that would make the “house mix” the premier b-side sound for those bubblegum artists trying to stay relevant in the 90’s.

The house remixes coming from Chicago and New York dominated the airwaves at first, eventually gaining genre status by the later part of the decade as international house or just international for short. At the time this would have been synonymous with house music everywhere else in the world. After a years of these tracks getting remixed by the touch of the local talent, International no longer fit the description of what the music was and Kwaito became the sound of the streets. In the studio, Kwaito was the sound of the next generation of producers that was coming up under the disco legends of 80s. In total it took less than 5 years total for the sound to evolve. It would be in this transition period between International and Kwaito, with the help of the new wave of studio talent, that we find the ingredients that gave birth to a short lived yet unique African house sound.

After a long career with the soul group The savers, Morgan Kwele cut two solo records under his own name in the late 80’s. Without much success and after being dropped by EMI, Morgan was picked up by Peter Snyman and Independent Sounds of Soweto. At the time it was becoming a premier label for the emerging house sounds. M’du and Joe Nina would both end up working at Snyman’s studio, and it would be their collaborating project La Beat that would launch their respective careers further. For his new album Morgan would team up with legendary producer and long time friend from the 70s Koloi Lebona. they would work together once more and record what most likely became Morgan’s final album. The title track Vakonwana became the lead single, with the original bubblegum version on the A-side for the old timers and the club version on the flip for the late nite parties.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Brilliant, and overlooked moment of South African house / bubblegum unearthed by La Casa Tropical - TIP!

TRACK LISTING

A1. Vakonwana
B1. Vakonwana (club Mix)

Scotch

Jam Alley / Bafana Bafana

By 1995 Kwaito was already a well established and distinguishable sound compared to the International House Remixes that preceded. The tempo was slowed down, Soulful vocal samples were replaced by catchy and repetitive hooks and versus sang in vernacular. The new hit sound had a template and studios worked around the clock to pump fresh releases into the demanding market.

After the successful 1995 release of Import mixes Vol 4, The Groove City team behind the productions now decided to venture into the territory of Mid Tempo. They would craft an album for a young frontman with the help of Kwaito pioneer Oscar Warona, and without much trouble, the team had their first hit on their hands. Filling the boots of their cars with copies of the cassettes and taking the stock to various townships around Johannesburg the tape quickly circulated and sold out every new batch that was printed. Demand was high for the release but as with much of the music at the time, the fast paced demand for the music moved on. Without a follow up release Scotch failed to ride the momentum built by the debut and remained largely unknown although he is still in the music industry to this day.

Even with their first artist release being a success, the following years proved more difficult in reaching such a large audience for the Kaleidosound studio. With popularity for the genre growing, the simple templates for early classics were changing as Kwaito fused with hip hop. Rapping took over as the preferred vocals for the masses. Mysterious production teams and labels that served as guides for music lovers were eclipsed by frontmen and groups that could draw crowds. The fight for fresh sounds continued as the airwaves became the main battleground for artists and the more club oriented music was pushed back underground, eventually evolving into some of the earliest examples of Deep House seen on the continent. The Kaleidosound production team would finally strike gold again in 1997 when reviving Groove City for vol. 5 which acted as the debut for the newly formed group Chiskop. The group would become superstars of the new commercial era that followed, sparking solo careers for the members and creating some of the biggest hits the genre knew.

To this day Scotch remains one of the best albums to come out of the golden era of Kwaito. Although it was outperformed by other groups from the time it has a special place for those who knew it and can still be found as a treasured piece in many collections. The various people involved created a one off fusion of sound that has remained fresh for 25 years. Playful lyrics over floaty grooves resulted in favourites like “Jam Alley” which uses catch phrases from the beloved TV show and “Bafana Bafana” guaranteed to get the boys on the dance floor. Here you have these two tracks taken from the album pressed on a club ready Maxi Single for the Deejays

TRACK LISTING

A1. Jam Alley
B1. Bafana Bafana


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