Please don’t misquote us”, pleads Sweat X’s rapper/vocalist Spoek “Biko” Mathambo. His concern is unsurprising. Sweat X is a brand spanking new mutant-disko-Afro-elektro-future-primitive booty rap duo comprising Mathambo and Real Estate Agents glitch-master Marcus Wormstorm. With such an abundance of terminology with which to preface the group’s name, the potential for being misunderstood is pretty vast.
If you are battling to neatly label Sweat X and need a buzzword to help you, try Black Sweat music. “It’s African electro, man”, Mathambo explains. “It’s the Kool Disko Okapi and the Lan Lord Leopard cold getting busy cooking up tasty jams to make your coochie say pop.” This remark is also a good layman’s introduction to the unique patois that the two converse comfortably in — Sweat X speak. “You’ll hear us use a bunch of different phrases for the styles we purvey,” translates Mathambo. “Shit, we’ve got styles out the ass.”
One of these styles is “future primitive”. While Wormstorm makes his music using a cornucopia of modern music making technology’s finest tools, Sweat X are all for putting on loin cloths and getting a bit prehistoric when the mood takes them. Does this pair of visionaries believe that society should move back towards a hunter-gatherer, cave-dwelling type of culture?
“We’re futuristic kids,” Mathambo explains. “We believe that there’s a place for computers, calculators, automaton domestics and androgyny, but also, we need to throw bones, farm lands, hug up on baobabs, ride dinosaurs and wear furs.”
Speaking of primitive, one can’t help but notice the pair’s use of early Nineties acid house smiley face iconography coupled with a predilection for hard, fast, beats and rave-style whistle-blowing. Is all of this a sign that Sweat X want to start a rave revival? Wormstorm seems bored at the suggestion. “It’s come and gone baby,” he yawns, idly sipping on a glass of Moet en Chandon. “It’s all just so late November, early December 2006. The question should be: ‘if neon is the new black, then what’s the new neon?'”
While Wormstorm ponders this difficult conundrum, Mathambo elaborates. “The rave comeback thing is all a joke for us. As kids of the Eighties and Nineties we are as influenced by rave as we are by Christian Slater, Chicken Licken, the AWB [Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging], Sesame Street, a slain Chris Hani, gangster rap, old house, Velaphi, Winnie Mandela, Bop TV, Disney’s Aladdin, R&B, Kraftwerk, koeksisters, soccer dances and electro.”
In addition to all of the above, Wormstorm’s neon-coloured new beats are strongly influenced by, well, everything. “It’s just the way I am. I can get down to the sound of my teeth getting brushed. A girl sneezing makes a good snare drum. There’s booty bass in the hum of a traffic jam. There’s a song in the crash. I can’t escape it.”
Then there are the lyrics, which basically entail various variations on the theme “pussy”. Sweat X, basically, make club-friendly, shake-your-booty music for hip kids who understand the irony. But doesn’t Mathambo ever want to say something, like, deep and meaningful? His rapping on pre-Sweat X projects indicates that he’s capable of doing so. “I write what I like,” says Mathambo. “I am the ‘many man’. I think it pathetic for any one person to feel they need to be only one person with so many directions possible.”
Sweat X are clearly intent on exploring each direction in their own time, stubbornly refusing to put up camp in any one genre. “We’ve been talking about doing a doo-wop album, a grunge album. Ag, we’ll see where our heads are …”
Then there’s a matter of the Boer Ndebele connection. Mathambo is descended from the Ndebele royal family in Polokwane, while Wormstorm is an Afrikaner from the same area. Could these mischievous Afro-electro-heads be unlikely poster boys for the rainbow nation? Probably. According to Wormstorm, “we are the Ebony and Ivory Tron”. Mathambo elaborates. “I play the charismatic Ndebele counterpoint to Markus’s exuberant Afrikaner. We’re like a 20-foot acrylic painting of a black hand holding a white hand.”
When Sweat X aren’t busy epitomising the union of their diverse cultures, they like to dance, and have even inspired their own floor-filling craze, the Wormstorm Shake, which is currently sweeping the nation. “It’s a sort of jive/twist hybrid invented by yours truly,” says Wormstorm. “It leaves the viewer with the illusion that the dancer is hip-deep in a river of chocolate, moving upstream while searching for his or her keys.”
For a relatively new act, Sweat X have plenty to dance about. They’ve already been signed to New York label Citinite and are set to release their debut EP Ebony Ivory Tron later this year. For now, you can hear Sweat X tracks as well as some exclusive mixes at www.myspace.com/sweatx
By way of a conclusion, Mathambo offers a typically impassioned message to all the badly-dressed kids and haters out there that may be afraid to embrace phenomenon. “You love Sweat X! 2007, let’s dance! Don’t fear the feeling. Embrace it. We love you. Dress like us and heed the call when the time comes for us to bury the hatchet and build a commune in Knysa, where we can French kiss and play scrabble, while listening to The Smiths.” And that, as sure as Sweat X love coochie, is not a misquote.