Music

Weekend date with the king of club music

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South African Dj and producer Black Coffee. He performs at the MUZE Festival in Nairobi on November 7, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • There is huge anticipation among electronic/house music fans ahead of Black Coffee’s performance as the headline act during the second edition of the MUZE Festival next weekend.
  • This is his first stop from his current tour of North America where he has played a run of 20 dates across big cities in the US and Canada.

South Africa has grown into one of the bastions of electronic music in the world, thanks in no small part to the global popularity of DJ and producer Black Coffee.

His music has been sampled by the likes of American singer Drake and his latest album features collaborations with Pharrell Williams and David Guetta. He has turned classic songs by giants like Hugh Masekela into global club hits by combining his electronic music wizardry and live instrumentation.

There is huge anticipation among electronic/house music fans ahead of Black Coffee’s performance as the headline act during the second edition of the MUZE Festival next weekend, November 7 at the Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi.

This is his first stop from his current tour of North America where he has played a run of 20 dates across big cities in the US and Canada and attracted stars like Drake who was in the audience at the Toronto show.

Born in Durban 45 years ago, Nathi Maphumulo grew up as a village boy in the Eastern Cape, literally milking his grandmother’s cows in the village.

Among the records that influenced his love for music and passion as a DJ in the 1990s was the hit “Dlala Mapantsula” by kwaito group TKZee, which he combined with American R&B and hip-hop songs with a similar tempo. He joined college to study jazz but could not complete the course due to lack of fees and instead teamed up with two friends and formed the urban soul trio SHANA (Simply Hot and Naturally African).

Black Coffee was chosen as one of two South Africans in the 2003 Red Bull Music Academy and his attention shifted from making music for compilation albums to creating original house music from South Africa. This gave him an opportunity to license his music to labels overseas as opposed to paying for music from other parts of the world.

These labels introduced him to the world as their artist and he would get requests for gigs depending on where the label was located, from London to Berlin, New York to Paris.

It was at the Red Bull Academy that he first met the legendary Hugh Masekela and, as fate would have it, one night he heard Masekela's iconic 1972 hit song ‘Stimela’ playing on TV and immediately started working on a remix.

He produced the remix on his computer even before speaking to Masekela and the song was eventually approved and released on Black Coffee's debut album was released in 2005. Ultimately he got to work together with Masekela on an original song called “We Are One” on his album “Home Brewed which became a theme song for unity during the xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2015.

He also fulfilled another dream by performing with a 24-piece orchestra on the uplifting anthem “Someday” in 2009.

Former President Jacob Zuma hailed him as a “prime international export after becoming the first South African artist to win a Black Entertainment Television (BET) Award in 2016.

An accident that left him paralyzed in one arm means he plays using one hand and as he often says, this means he ‘needs to work probably five times harder than anybody else.’ Black Coffee’s performance comes on the heels of the release of his sixth album “Subconsciously” which features collaborations with global stars like Pharrell, David Guetta, Diplo, DJ Angelo and Sun-El-Musician.

His aim has always been to collaborate with the world's biggest music stars without sacrificing the house music elements.

“I want to be that guy who makes a song with Beyonce but it remains house music. Without changing who I am and what I have been doing, that's my ultimate aim,” he told a live session at Red Bull Academy in 2016.

He founded a music streaming application, Gongbox to offer young African artists an opportunity to showcase their music while retaining the rights to their work.

“Black Coffee has put Africa on the global EDM music map, releasing amazing music, and has inspired a whole new generation of DJ/Producers,” says Willie Gachora, founder of MUZE Club.

“We could not be more excited to be hosting this superstar for this second edition of the festival.

MUZE, which was launched in February this year, is an urban cultural event that draws on top international stars and the best Kenyan artists on offer.

DJ Coffee will perform alongside a host of top Kenyan electronic music stars like Blinky Bill, Saint Evo, DJ Suraj, Vidza, MGM, Foozak, Kaneda, Chucky, Xan Woods and Jahawi.