Partygoers know that when the words “ak’si yim’ yile gqom” ring out from the speaker, it’s time to lose their inhibitions and dance like there is no tomorrow. Started in the streets of Umlazi and KwaMashu, gqom is the genre that helps you embrace your inner Babes Wodumo, one of the reigning kweens of the genre.
The high-tempo sound, rich in dark and deep rhymes and catchy lyrics, emerged on the scene in 2011. To celebrate these musicians, we spotlight and speak to some of the artists solidifying their place in the top levels of the music scene, and continue to bring us hip, vosho-inducing beats.
With hit singles like Konakele and Nyani Nyani, Sma Mbatha aka DJ Chofy is blazing trails in gqom. Based in Pietermaritzburg KwaZulu-Natal, Chofy was a finalist on season three of the SABC 1 reality TV show 1’s and 2’s, where she competed for the coveted title of the top DJ spot. Chofy says she chose gqom because it is the kind of music that forces you to dance. “You can’t help it with gqom, you must dance when it plays, nakanjani”. Follow Dj Chofy.
DJ Prie Nkosazana
Princess Jacobs or DJ Prie Nkosazana has been in the music game since 2013. She says producing gqom makes her believe anything is possible. The Johannesburg based producer and DJ, who has songs like Washa Gqomu and Dance With Me, says, “Most music executives don’t take us womxn seriously, if you don’t want to sleep with them or pay a bribes, your music never gets played”.
Prie, who is currently working on a new single called Thokoza Gogo, says she aims to continue playing gqom until it spreads across the continent and the world. Follow DJ Prie.
Creative duo Thato Ramaisa (Fela Gucci) and Buyani Duma (Desire Marea) of art duo FAKA make music as arresting as their artwork. Their hit single Uyang’khumbula, is a rhythmic gem setting fires on dance floors across the country. The song, which was released in May, was accompanied by an edgy video, which has garnered more than 40 000 views on YouTube. The duo released their debut EP titled Bottoms Revenge last year, ahead of their upcoming EP dropping this week, and continue to create art and music that speaks of radical resistance and reclaiming spaces for black queer identities. Follow FAKA.
With smash hits like Wololo and Ganda Ganda Durban-based vocalist, Bongekile Simelane has quickly claimed her spot as the kween of gqom. The multi-award nominated artist, who is known for her sassy dance moves, came into the scene after her single Wololo tore dance floors apart throughout 2016. She has collaborated with artists like Cassper Nyovest and Big Nuz, and continues to raise the bar for music. Follow Babes.
Anita Ronge aka The Duchaz or kasi mlungu says she chose gqom because it is a genre that speaks to her soul. According to the Joburg-based DJ, gqom is a universal sound and says although she was raised in a predominantly Afrikaans home she has often only related to gqom because it is a versatile genre. The Duchaz discovered her passion for house music in 2012 and is a self-taught DJ eager to perfect her skills. She has played at major events like the MTV Africa music awards 2016 nomination party and on radio stations like Lesedi FM and YFM. Follow The Duchaz.
With a brand new single out, Shakalumba, vocalist Zinhle Ngidi is steady solidifying herself as a gqom queen. It’s hard to forget how in December 2015, the song Shumaya, which features the singer and is produced by house duo Durban Nyts, had people dancing their problems away during the holidays. “Being a womxn in the music space is interesting because music is a universal language and it evolves momentarily,” the Durban-born vocalist says, and adds that it was her neighbours and friends who encouraged her to perform. Follow Zinhle.
DJ Poomla Da Princess
Joburg-based Phumla Hlophe aka DJ Poomla Da Princess says she was inspired to become a DJ while working at Imbokodo FM. “The radio station had a 45 minute slot open for DJs to play their mixes, and after realising that there were very few female DJs coming in I enrolled at the Fuse Academy in 2011, where I learned to become a DJ”. Poomla has a new single out called Dlala, and says she loves gqom because it helps her to forget about her problems. “You can’t think of anything else when qgom is playing, all you want to do is dance”. Follow Poomla.