Having just seen a South African dance documentary called The African Cypher, this assertion of “best” did not hold true for me; awesome dance is threaded throughout the country’s musical and social culture of SA. This reminder did, however, lead me to dig deep into South African music videos to hunt for visual and sonic gems — the best of which I have shared in this post. (No Die Antwoord on the basis on their being well-known by all.)
Mafikizolo ft. Uhuru – “Khona”
I recently stumbled across this website called OkayAfrica, and it is definitely one of my favorite new internet finds. Of their recurring posts are summaries of notable African fashion designers to watch out for, and the fashion in this music video for “Khona” reminds me of these top designers in some ways. Geometric shapes and bright colors abound, abound, abound, in eye-catching ways galore. Glittered male dancers dive and swoop around a strong female lioness and a hypnotic rhythm, pushing “Khona” hard as a visual highlight and a repeat listen.
[audio:http://www.redefinemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Uhuru-ft-Mafikizolo_Khona.mp3|titles=Uhuru ft. Mafikizolo – Khona]
Umlilo ft. Kyla Phil – “Living Dangerously”
Umililo may be one of the South African finds that has the most staying power with me. All the extroverted, dance-centric finds are amazing, but most of the time, I’d rather kick back and get moody, and this song is fucking sick. The music video is reminiscent of the high-budget and slightly off-kilter hip-hop music videos that have been surfacing as of late — and it certainly bears similarity to Frank Ocean’s “Novacaine”.
You can download Umlilo’s entire latest EP via Mediafire; it spans many genres and includes a Bob Dylan cover.
[audio:http://www.redefinemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Umlilo-ft-Kyla-Phil_Living-Dangerously.mp3|titles=Umlilo ft. Kyla Phil – Living Dangerously]
Bucie – “Induku Enhle” featuring Demor Skihosana
Bucie is known as South Africa’s “Princess of House” with her never-ending collection of soulful deep house. Though she often sings in English, this track is an exception, with a music video that merges the old and the new. We’re talking fur-clad keytar jam outs and neon Wonderwoman capes mixing with traditional African patterns. She’s currently working on a new record, and you can hear more from this album at TruSpot.
DJ Cleo ft. Teddy Bears – “Turn Around”
With so much house music abounding in South African music, party footage is extremely popular in music videos. Teddy Bears’ “Follow Me” is not only one of the best party-related music videos of the bunch, but one of the best tracks, as well. These guys just have personality, and it shows, even in this relatively simple music video for their collaboration with DJ Cleo. They just really know how to hold a frame with smiles and simple body movements. It’s incredible how much of a stylistic overlap there is between South African house music and Korean pop music in its less glammed out days.