/ 5 April 2024

What’s Up

Thandiswa Tiny Desk
Thandiswa Mazwai has an album out next month

Thandiswa Mazwai’s Tiny Desk performance

Thandiswa Mazwai, the renowned South African musician, graced the intimate setting of the US’ NPR Music’s Tiny Desk with a performance that left both her and her fans in awe. 

In a statement reflecting on the experience, Mazwai expressed gratitude for the opportunity, describing it as a dream come true. 

The performance, which took place on a snowy day in January in Washington, showcased Mazwai’s talent and charisma as she delivered a set of five songs, each imbued with her distinctive style and message.

Mazwai’s dedication of Nizalwa Ngobani? to the resilient people of South Africa set the tone for the performance, highlighting her connection to her roots and the enduring spirit of her homeland. 

The next song, Children of the Soil, she dedicated to all the people around the world who are struggling for freedom. 

“This is our time to use our voices,” she said. “This is the time for us to fight for freedom, wherever it is in the world.”

Children of the Soil will be featured on her soon-to-be-released new album, Sankofa. 

She finished the Tiny Desk set with the powerful Abenguni and the catchy upbeat Lahl’umlenze, with its resilient hook: “Why does it matter how I dance?”

This Tiny Desk performance serves as a prelude to the highly anticipated Sankofa, set for release next month. It provides a tantalising glimpse of what promises to be a truly remarkable album. You can watch it here. — Lesego Chepape

Thabang Kganaga aka Masterpiece YVK EP 

Amapiano artist Thabang Kganaga, known as Masterpiece YVK, has made waves on the music scene with the recent release of his latest EP, Back to the Streets

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian at the EP’s listening party at Opera nightclub in Johannesburg, Kganaga revealed some of the personal experiences behind the creation of the album. 

One of the challenges he spoke about was too much introspection, a significant hurdle, emphasising the importance of reconnecting with oneself to progress in the music industry.

The EP’s title Back to the Streets reflects Kganaga’s deep-rooted connection to street culture, particularly the influential skhothane movement and other township phenomena from the early 2000s. 

He seamlessly weaves elements of these cultural movements — from their dress codes to their language and sounds — into his music, capturing the essence of a bygone era.

The EP’s lyrics evoke nostalgia and cultural specificity, resonating with listeners who recall encounters with songs about familiar people and places. 

Through Back to the Streets, Kganaga not only pays homage to his upbringing but also provides a platform for listeners to reminisce and reconnect with their own cultural identities. 

The EP stands as a testament to the power of music in preserving cultural heritage. — Lesego Chepape

The roots of the grass go deep

In hindsight, it was uncannily prophetic that Limpopo-born artist Fumani Maluleke entered this world on a grass mat. 

A fast labour meant that, before his mother could get to the hospital, the now 33-year-old was born onto one of the grass mats that are everyday items in so many households across South Africa.

“In my tribe, we use these mats for many different reasons — including praying, sleeping and sitting, but I had no idea of their added meaning in my own life,” Maluleke explains. 

Tsalwa Lerintswa (The New Scroll) is a beguiling display of the painter’s talent and his growing skill at manifesting arresting landscapes on these surprising and culturally significant canvasses.

Fumani (1)
Fumani Maluleke has an exhibition in Joburg.

The three-legged pots (commonly known as izimbiza), are used metaphorically as personifications of his mother, who served as nurturer, sage and guide. 

In much the same way that a pot holds substance in it to nurture, Maluleke doubles down on these attributes, at times expanding on them to touch on the wisdom and guiding influence she had in his life as a single mother.

This he portrays by flipping the imbiza upside down and presenting it on top of his mother in a manner that transforms this simple, utilitarian object into one that mimics a royal crown. Placed on her head, the pot becomes a vessel that holds knowledge, alluding to a mother using her wisdom to guide, similar to a wise monarch. In this way, Maluleke pays respect to the matriarchal presence and influence of his mother. 

The exhibition is on show from 12 April at the Everard Read’s Circa Gallery in Johannesburg. — Charles Leonard