Awesome Tapes from Africa’s new signees announce their first project, an electronic “journey through 2020’s bizarre mindscape.”
In South African slang, “ma2000” is a term used to describe young people who were born after the year 2000 and therefore never experienced apartheid at any point in their lives. The two producers who make up the Pretoria-based duo Native Soul would be considered “ma2000” in common parlance: Kgothatso Tshabalala is 19 years old and Zakhele Mhlanga (DJ Zakes) is 18. Until the group’s formation in 2019, they had both been producing music in a variety of styles, from hip-hop to different types of house, including amapiano. Their debut album, Teenage Dreams, released by Awesome Tapes From Africa, is nevertheless a project full of maturity. It presents a youthful, electronic and experimental sound, while the arrangements and the project’s composite parts display skill beyond their respective ages.
Each track develops incrementally, with various elements introduced in turn. The layers add to the emotion and take Teenage Dreams beyond just a dance project, but one that shows what depth can be gained when ability meets creativity. Three tracks are already available: the agitated “The Journey,” the powerful amapiano piece “Teenage Dreams” and “Dead Sangoma,” which makes a discernible nod to the percussive rhythms of Afrohouse. The rest of the album will continue to embody the duo’s South African music heritage by drawing on old school kwaito, trip-hop and even globalised house (the aptly named “United As One” will carry a tinge of Moloko’s “Sing It Back,” which became an anthemic track in South Africa).
Teenage Dreams by Native Soul, out on September 24th on Awesome Tapes from Africa.