World Cup Booty-Shaking

Slate's Culture Blog
June 7 2010 3:38 PM

World Cup Booty-Shaking

When the lineup for the 2010 World Cup launch concert was first announced, it included only three South African acts—BLK JKS, the Parlotones, and Vusi Mahlasela. After some eyebrow-raising and complaints from local musicians, organizers added several more to the bill.

If, after watching the concert, your appetite for South African sounds is whetted, you can pay a visit to the tiny music blog   Afro-Synth , which specializes in "South African Bubblegum/Disco vibes from the 80s and early 90s." Afro-Synth is run by someone calling himself Patrick Swazi, who has amassed an impressive collection of South African vinyl and who posts photos of album art and, every now and then, free MP3 files. It can feel cruelly tantalizing when the former are not accompanied by the latter. Swazi performs a vital, commendable service it would be difficult, if not impossible, to hear much of this music if it weren't for Afro-Synth but he seems wary, perhaps, of crossing the line between archivist and pirate.

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A few weeks ago, Swazi posted Afrosynth VI: Working for the Weekend , an upbeat, often ecstatic mix of dancefloor-oriented, synthesizer-heavy pop from mostly obscure acts though Hugh Maseleka is represented in the form of "Don't Go Lose It Baby," an electro track with a groove LCD Soundsystem would kill for. (Non-South-African Harry Belafonte is here, too, with "Amandla," a bouncy anti-apartheid jam masquerading as a tale of seduction.) Highlights from further below the radar include "Abantwa," by African Youth Band (whose leader, Gerald "Blondie" Makhene, worked as a producer with Maseleka and helped launch the career of "Queen of South African pop" Brenda Fassie) and "Simovane" by Sky Jinx, whom Google tells me very little about. In a post accompanying the download, Swazi identifies the genres represented throughout as "bubblegum synths, Zulu, Sotho, and Shangaan neo-traditional," among others.

Working for the Weekend is the sixth Afrosynth mix Swazi has posted for free download the five previous installments are still available here

Jonah Weiner is Slate's pop critic.