Kwaito King moves into House like Everyone Else

By the Lebohang Mpede , 21 Aug 2008

Arthur Mafokate the self proclaimed king of kwaito and boss of 999 records is to switch his music style from the very popular kwaito to house music.

Arthur who started his career as a backing dancer has produced some of the best kwaito music and dance moves for almost 2 decades.
He is credited as one of the pioneers of kwaito music as he created the first kwaito hit album “Kaffir”.

“I am out of kwaito until we figure out how to make it better.”
-Arthur Mafokate

Kaffir was released at a crucial time in South Africa’s history just after the political changes of 1994. Its lyrics draw attention to the problems the new South Africa was facing and the youth of the time related well with the album. Although “Kaffir” was the main song, I feel “Yehlisani Umoya” [meaning “take it easy/cool/lower your temper”] sent a stronger message discouraging the use of guns/violence and promoting forgiveness.Kaffir, the album, went on to sale over 150 000 copies, which was a great achievement especially when you consider that it was banned by some radio stations. It is this album which crowned Mafokate at the king of kwaito as it greatly influenced the state of kwaito. If my memory saves me right that was about the time when the term “di-gong” started to lose its place in South African music, well that’s if it ever had a place.

Having credited Mafokate as the king of kwaito it is only fair to point out that other great artist and producers like Oskido, Don Laka and Christos had a big hand in shaping kwaito and the life style associated with it. Even though Mafokate is well known for choreographing sexy moves, it’s essential to remember that Oskido was the first to introduce them with Boom Shaka.

“I predicted in 1998 that kwaito was going to struggle and people didn’t believe me.”
– Arthur Mafokate

Oskido has always been into his house music and it is quite interesting to see the king of kwaito jumping ship at this stage. Is Kwaito now a spent force?

As to Mafokate and house I have to admit that his album “Chomi” did have a good hint of house, but may be it was released well before it’s time.

Just like before when he proclaimed himself as king of kwaito, Mafokate’s move from kwaito to house has been controversial with many critics saying he copies DJ Cleo’s songs.

Of particular interest is the comparison between DJ Cleo’s “Sis’ Ndihamba Nawe” and Mafokate’s “Sal’basalayo”, both of which have been nominated for The Channel O Music Awards for Best Duo and Best Kwaito respectively.

I will not say much, please compare for yourselves

DJ Cleo – Sis’ Ndihamba Nawe
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Arthur – Sal’basalayo
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Well if you think Mafokate is not serious about his switch wait till you hear his latest album Arthur vs. DJ Mbuso, I would say at list a good 80% of it is house.

Mafokate has also told Sowetan “I am out of kwaito until we figure out how to make it better. I feel things are changing. There is a high demand for house and I am going along with the market. I predicted in 1998 that kwaito was going to struggle and people didn’t believe me. Now it’s happening,”

“…what a mix kwaito has, maybe it’s about time it got more defined into its parent genres.”
– Lebohang Mpede, Editor of

As to kwaito, well it’s interesting that “Sal’abasala” has been nominated under “Best kwaito” for the Channel O Awards, unlike di-gong where the name changed I hope this time its the other way round. The music will change but the name will stay, besides Kwaito has always been “mzansi” house mixed with other genres in small doses, it just that the house part of it has started to mature and so have the afro-pop parts and the rap parts.

O! And did I mention the Ragga Dancehall part, damn what a mix kwaito has, maybe it’s about time it got more defined into its parent genres.

And me being me…well I will definitely be the last person to admit that kwaito is dead! If a kwaito artist produces what many might mistake for house [me just being paranoid], I will call it kwaito, simple as that.

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