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Mshini Wam

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Album Review

Producer/MC Spoek Mathambo presents a new kind of African music on Mshini Wam, an album that mixes hip-hop, dubstep, and Afro-pop, but that hyperkinetic, exciting sound is only half the reason this 2010 effort triumphs. Mathambo’s cheeky and sometimes sleazy attitude is the other, telling “all you doo doo talkers” that they “can eat my ass out” on “Don’t Mean to be Rude” or slaying the competition with “If you need a helping hand, let me know/My Grammy used to work with the mentally slow” on the space dub highlight “Out the Box.” “Control” does a great job messing with Joy Division (“And he’s clinging to the nearest skirt in sight/In fear, he’s lost control”) but there’s also a complex, political side to this revolutionary artist, referenced by the machine gun on the cover and a title that roughly translates into English as “My Machine.” It comes to the forefront on serious tracks like “Au” or the tense, tech-house closer “Tonite,” which warns the listener of “the very last good night of your life” since once a soldier has tasted blood, everything changes. For Mathambo, porn and politics aren’t at odds with one another, and they both deserve funky backbeats along with bold lyrics. Think of him as the African dubstep Prince, and the daring Mshini Wam as his Controversy.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Nthato Mogkgata was fronting the electro-rap acts Sweat.X and Playdoe and performing in the Afro-beat group Mshini Wam when his solo career as Spoek Mathambo started to take off. Released in 2010, Mshini Wam found the South African artist tying in lyrics about the political state of his homeland with beats that explored dubstep and African house. He connected with Diplo, who invited him to guest on Robyn's track "Dancehall Queen." Soon after, Sub Pop (who had just started transitioning their roster...
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Mshini Wam, Spoek Mathambo
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