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Cult South African band Kwani Experience releases long‑awaited new music

The iconic group rooted in the Joburg Jazz renaissance releases their first single in nearly a decade.

The early-to-mid 2000s signaled a cultural revival in Johannesburg. Newtown Precinct, with its live music venues, renowned dance academies and jazz clubs named after South African jazz greats, was crucial to this renaissance. Bands like Blk Sonshine, Tumi and the Volume, and Uju found fertile ground. Kwani Experience emerged from this new, radical world.

Buoyed by cues from their diasporadical counterparts, driven by a staunch pan-Africanist vision, and grounded in the spiritual underpinnings of Rastafari, the band became a crucial presence on the live music circuit. The Birth of The Mudaland Funk, their 2005 debut on the now-non-existent Sheer Sound record label, might’ve faltered when it came to mass market penetration, but it paved the way for bands like The Brother Moves On, Urban Village and others to shine today.

The sextet performed at Afropunk Johannesburg in 2019 following a near-decade-long hiatus. Their recently-released single, “Ransom”, is timely protest music against the tyranny of Capitalism.  We living for ransom/ for a hostage we don’t know/ Everything is money, money every step of the way. The 4/4 groove scatters its Drum-n-Bass and Acid Jazz roots in disparate directions, while harmonic vocal interplays and revolutionary raps rein the other sonic elements back to the core. Sunshine music, for these rainy days.

You can download the song on Bandcamp now