The duo Toxicated Keys releases “Zaka Zaka” today, a promising first single that comes straight from the townships of Pretoria. It offers a taster of their rough amapiano style, and of a forthcoming EP.
Mokwele and Thaban Makhafola, two producers from Mamelodi (a township in Pretoria), aged 17 and 19 respectively, make up the group Toxicated Keys. Describing their music as “rough amapiano”, they offer a more raw version of this style of music that is currently setting South Africa on fire, as well as being exported internationally. Their first single, “Zaka Zaka” featuring Danger De Talented and Dyy, along with its accompanying music video, bears witness to the lifestyle that matches the music.
“Zaka Zaka” means ‘money, money’ in Tsotsitaal – a mixture of Afrikaans, Setswana, Isizulu and several other South African languages. This vernacular was originally spoken by gangsters to ensure secrecy, but it has become widely spoken as slang in the townships. Composed with beatmaker SoulMusiQ SA, the track features the incisive flows of Danger De Talented and Dyy, rapping about their thirst for zaka: “The message of the track is simple: we love to make money and we love to have money. It’s our dream to end the hunger in our homes,” explain Mokwele and Thaban Makhafola.
A mix of deep house, jazz, and lounge music, amapiano is characterised by the presence of synths, airy pads, and percussive bass lines. With their rough amapiano, Toxicated Keys replace the soulful ambience and warm layers of the original style with harder beats and darker bass lines.
“Zaka Zaka” will be followed up with an 8-track EP, FROM THUTLWANE TO THE WORLD, released on PSSNGR. This new label, founded by Jess (a DJ, producer, drummer and beatmaker based in Paris), focuses on the electro and dance scenes that abound in Africa. With this project, Toxicated Keys plans to get people dancing to deep, massive tracks, topped off with hypnotic voices. Reminiscent of South African Bacardi house or Robert Owens’ dark house of the 1990s, their rough amapiano is surprising for its variety of rhythms and loops that is guaranteed to cause unstoppable head nodding. As for the two young producers, they are certain that amapiano isn’t just a passing fad: ‘it’s here to stay and to change lives’ they’ll tell anyone who’ll listen. So, let’s hear it…