To celebrate the recent release of his latest LP, Immune, for Spectral Sound, we tapped Berlin-based house head Bodycode (a.k.a. Alan Abrahams, a.k.a. Portable) for his favorite tracks from his native South Africa.
1. Brenda Fassie & The Big Dudes "Weekend Special"
Brenda Fassie was one of the first South African pop stars. In a country rife with apartheid and black inequality. this was quite a fete. It was reassuring to know that someone from such a deprived background could become a household name and a huge hit in the clubs just before the onset of Chicago house. She later went on to become a huge star all across Africa. Sadly she passed away recently due to a heroin overdose, and will be sorely missed.
2. Durban's Finest "Tira's Boots"
A band I only recently became acquainted with, and who seems to be flying the flag high back on the SA club scene. They've won several awards, including an award by popular radio station Metro FM. Rumor has it they've parted ways.
3. Yvonne Chaka Chaka "I'm in Love With a DJ"
This is another track that was a type of burning light for us during the dark apartheid times, because, like Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka also became a household name, overcoming all obstacles that an apartheid government laid before her. And she became, in a sense, a role model for everyone across not only South Africa but across the continent. She's quoted as saying, “Those were the days. We were such a close-mixed family; your father was my father, my mother was your aunt. Things have changed now; everybody is minding their own business.”
4. DJ Teakay "Ngifuna Wena"
Another big star on the S. African kwaito scene DJ Teakay. As some of you night know, kwaito is a hybrid of Chicago house music mixed with African elements. It's been hybridized so much that it's now a type of sound all its own.
5. DJ Mujava "Township Funk"
This went on to be signed by Warp Records and has garnered a lot of international attention for DJ Mujava and kwaito music.
6. Alaska "Fokol"
This is one of the longest-running kwaito groups, and I discovered them while living in Lisbon, when I heard a DJ play it at a party. Lisbon is so close to Africa that it has a lot of African influence, particularly Angola.
7. DJ What What "What If"
8. DJ Cleo Bleksem "Sis Ngihamba Nawe"
DJ Cleo is famously known as starting his DJ career at 10. He runs an underground label in South Africa called Wheels of Steel. I was also introduced to this track while in Lisbon.
9. Abashante "Senzanje"
10. Miriam Makeba "The Click Song"
Miriam Makeba garnered worldwide attention in the '60s with this track. During the apartheid years, she was forced into exile to the U.S. by the South African government, due to her active involvement against the apartheid regime. While in exile her mother passed away in South Africa, without her being able to return to bury her, and while she was in the U.S., her daughter passed away, too. Sadly the great Miriam passed away a few months ago and will be sorely missed as well.