Spoek Mathambo’s thousands of followers on Twitter, the micro- blogging site, were naturally excited that the musician had been featured in London’s Guardian newspaper. Mathambo wasn’t — he was clearly affronted at being identified as the king of kwaito.
View the Guardian article here.
“I did the interview without knowing that the piece would have a kwaito focus. I was doing an interview about my work, which is very much not,” Mathambo fumed, adding: “I have supreme respect for everyone who has worked in the last 20 years to build kwaito and am embarrassed to be put forward as something I’m not.”
He finished by saying: “final word on the @Guardian article is that it was supremely irresponsible, misleading and stupid to claim me to be the ‘king of kwaito’.” Describing the coronation as “laughable”, Spoek saw it as part of a trend in British papers of “twisting a South African story and so disrespecting THE REAL KINGS OF KWAITO”.
Some might see how the Guardian‘s writer got it all wrong. The medical-school drop-out is difficult to place and as kwaito is a ready- made definition, it’s easy to see how he was described as such. His music melds funk, house and kwaito with acid commentary on the here and now.
When I wrote up his profile for the 200 Young South Africans, I said: “The reaction to his music has either been the unqualified admiration of devoted aficionados or the confused head shake of the naysayers who are wondering, ‘What the hell is going on?'”
Explaining his sound, Mathambo said: “I am putting a spin on what was going on in the Pretoria house music scene, the Durban scene.”