Dance music that speaks directly to Black people living in townships like Soweto and cities such as Johannesburg. This genre was created as a response to Apartheid-era South Africa, exploring both its new possibilities and still-existent problems in post-apartheid South Africa.
Kwaito music emerged in South Africa’s townships following the end of apartheid. The newfound freedoms that followed, including Nelson Mandela becoming its first black president, gave non-white people a sense of self-acceptance and empowered them to express themselves creatively.
Young people were encouraged to express their emotions through music as a form of self-expression and voice for their community.
Kwaito lyrics often focus on township life, girls, partying and more – yet they also reflect the problems the country has had throughout its history.
Kwaito music has been heavily shaped by various influences, such as house music and other forms of African music.
In the 1990s, as South Africa was becoming a free nation, an artistic movement began to emerge. People felt liberated from Apartheid’s oppression and wanted to express themselves more creatively. This spurred on numerous artists and writers to create work of beauty that captured this moment in history.
This genre was born out of townships, reflecting social issues that were then prominent. It provided young people with an outlet to express themselves while having fun at the same time. Songs often reference life in the townships, partying and girls.
Kwaito music emerged in the nineties as an alternative to more subdued contemporary pop music. DJs slowed house beats down to 110 BPM, looped samples of older forms of South African music and added lyrics spoken in tsotsitaal–a combination of Afrikaans, township slang and regional languages.
These artists were profoundly moved by apartheid’s impact on South African society, enabling many to speak their minds for the first time and share their insights with a broader audience.
These songs were intended to aid South Africa’s youth in breaking free of the oppressive years following Apartheid and ushering in a new era. Although many artists have faced criticism regarding the content of their music, they have managed to maintain popularity with young South Africans.
Kwaito music emerged during the end of apartheid in South Africa. This period provided non-white people with a newfound self-assurance and freedom to express themselves creatively through music.
DJs in township clubs began blending house music with African elements and beats to create the genre known as kwaito.
Music spread quickly and became immensely popular in South Africa, propping up black youth at the forefront of South African entertainment industry. Furthermore, it provided a platform for new forms of social activism to flourish.
With half the population under 21, kwaito music is the soundtrack to township street culture influenced by hip hop and Western house. It represents a way of life – inspiring dress codes, speech patterns and dance moves alike. With roots in Afrikaans kwaai culture, kwaito has taken on an iconic role among black South Africans similar to what hip hop had done for black Americans’ ghettos. A powerful genre that continues to evolve today