Is Kwaito losing its relevance and fading into obscurity?
Everybody is wondering what’s happening to the Kwaito genre in South Africa after this year’s SAMA submissions.
Between November 2016 and January 31, 2017, the South African music industry had a chance to submit their entries.
With over 700 submissions, the Best Kwaito Album category only garnered 6 of those. Kwaito remix of the year did slightly better with 17 entries.
Perspective is everything and to some these numbers might not seem so bad….until you look at the rest of the stats.
- Each category only garners 5 nominations
- The most competitive category is ‘Best Collaboration’, with 106 entries.
- ‘Best Produced Album’ has 72 entries with genres spanning from gospel to Gqom.
- ‘Best Dance Album’: 27 entries.
- ‘Best Rap Album’ boasts 25.
- ‘Best Traditional Music Album’:16 entries.
- ‘The Traditional Faith Music Album’ category snagged 14 entries.
- Even a category as ‘slight’ as ‘Best DVD Recordings’ has more entries with 11.
- Finally, the category for Kwaito has the same entries as the brand-new category ‘Best African Artist Category.’
Where does this leave the genre?
In today’s times the lines between genre’s can become blurred.
Hip-hop/Kwaito, Kwaito/house-the possibilities are endless. Could fusion be a reason for the dwindle?
Pioneer Mdu Masilela reckons “they are not recording it anymore and instead changing to hip-hop with a touch of Kwaito. We need more releases of the original sound.”
Arthur Mofolate, a veteran artist has a different view. He says “This category was manipulated by the major recording companies in the past. It did not reflect what was happening in the streets, and that was de-motivating. So the legends told others that there was no point in entering the awards.”
‘Danger’ from Big Nuz (previous winner in this category at the SAMAS) blames the lack of investment in young artists for the slump in entries.
The thing is that the genre doesn’t depend on award shows to thrive. It is an intrinsic part of the evolution of music in South Africa, its beats lying deep within our hearts.
Kwaito will never die, if anything it will continue to evolve and push boundaries.