A song was made and then we became: A conversation with Off The Med’s Lead vocalist Kid Khuthaza pt.1
I always seem to think that people who move and spend a few years overseas tend to forget their home language, slang, or pretty much the essence of where they came from, which is often if not always, not the case. This thought comes from earlier childhood memories of jokes made around celebrities who went to the states, spent a few weeks or months and came back with awkwardly heavy accents and a dodgy loss of expression in their mother tongue.
This interview was another reminder that people have grown more conscious and proud of their identity, especially when they are halfway across the world and away from home… the conversation begins as drizzles of small banter that begin to feel like we’ve just bumped into each other in a queue for a taxi, after years of no communication; “What are you doing up so late in the evening bro?” I ask with enthusiasm, “It’s not late, it’s 8 am here” he responds in a composed manner. I quickly realize that I am so frazzled that I am not aware of the time difference, which is the prime contributor to why we are having this interview about making music in a foreign land(#SoFarGone); I break into nervous laughter and get straight into it, “So I want to get get a bit into who you are and why you do what you do…” my eagerness is quickly curbed by the shuffling of what sounds like plastic packets and the clacking of dishes followed by his lackluster remark, “ Ima kancane, ngi sa seyenza something (Please hold on, I am still doing something)”, It turns out that he is preparing breakfast and that this interview is not about to become typical, but more personal and very close to home.
Kid Khuthaza carries the undeniable spirit of a love affair between a Rock star and a Hippy, with the dress sense of a retired Russian gangster living in Boksburg. He exudes an endless amount of confidence in his verses as well as when he commands a crowd who probably do not know what the hell he is saying. He is a proud member of Off The Meds a Swedish/South African group consisting of super producers Adrian Lux, Carli Löf and Måns Glaeser as well as him – vocalist/MC Kamohelo Khoaripe known by his stage name Kid Khutaza. The group formed by chance or fate if you will – all the way in 2017 which feels quite like yesterday considering how consistent they as a group have been over the years.
Kid Khuthaza is definitely a name to remember when imagining the sounds of tomorrow, his guttural voice coupled with his minimalist kwaito-styled verses resonate with the monotonous yet quick-witted streets of a South African township as well as the high energy and teen spirited nature of the alternative Swedish club scene.
“The guy I’m currently staying with now had an after-party down the road from the studio, a song was made and then we became.”
As I anxiously wait at the rare sight of a quiet night in the township, I make a quick and silent wish that we do not experience an unwelcome visitor in the form of Load shedding (Load shedding is aimed at removing the load from the power system when there is an imbalance between the electricity available and the demand for electricity often leading to hours of no electricity in various South African business and residential areas alike). I begin to think about how Kid Khutaza started creating as a photographer before delving into music.
I glance over my questions and try to formulate them in my head in the most natural way possible, and it becomes clear to me how important this conversation is to the culture, as I paddle frantically under the deep waters of over-preparing while adjusting my voice to mimic the gracious poise of a duck with water running off its back…in a few seconds he interjects, “Se ngi grand, I’m ready”
Is it pronounced Khuthatza or Khataza? – two words that have different meanings but are very synonymous in the hood. “You are the journalist, you should know” He responds with a much welcomed and smug sense of identity, “You can pronounce it however you want, it’s the same thing, it’s, however, you want it…that’s what I like about the name” he exclaims in isiZulu while he continues to eat in the background. We break into laughter as we talk about his bold move overseas and if he ever thinks about the moment he decided to fly out and start a new life, “I don’t think about the moment as much, it comes up here and there when people ask me or like once or twice a month at random times I’d be like f^@# there are only white people around me”.
It was amongst such company that 4 years prior to our interview he would meet soon to be, members of the Off The Meds. “The guy I’m currently staying with now” he calmly states, “had an after-party down the road from the studio, a song was made and then we became.”
As we delve deeper, Khutaza delivers a heartfelt explanation of how they make and perform their tunes and it begins to become engrossingly evident how the inception of how the group met, melds into how their sound is formed, which in most cases is the result of them as friends having fun and seeing what music forms from that joy and ultimately where it takes them. “Everyone has their different influences, so we just get into the studio and blend it together then it just becomes an Off The Meds sound. It’s not a Swedish sound or South African sound it’s really just experimental, we just having fun”.
The coming together of these individuals has resulted in them performing at global music festivals. I began to wonder how he felt being jolted onto those stages and what he had gathered from being part of such experiences. “The first one was a bit big as well, a lot more weird than big; It was at an Absolut midsommar Festival and Kuli Chana was playing there as well, I bumped into him there and we spoke, I think someone must have told him about me or said that a guy from South Africa just came in (laughs) anyways it started raining and we couldn’t play on the main stage and we ended up playing under a tent, I was pretty nervous and it took me like 10 minutes to go on and perform. Every time they played the song, people expected me to jump on and I was like “no,no,no.”…eventually they just let it play and I just went on.”
My curiosity led me to enquire a bit more about whether he still gets these butterflies or it pretty much becomes like riding a bike. He maintains his assured tone in his response, “I still get a bit nervous, but it depends on the gig…I mean I still get a bit of social anxiety because we don’t plan our sets or rehearse, we just go there and just start playing…we play like a proper DJ set and there’s no “hey thanks for coming”, we just play and get off the stage. It’s like a DJ set, that’s how we do it because it’s really Dance music and I’m just trying to hype the people up, so there’s never really a plan or an order, they just play the music and I jump on and maybe sometimes they’ll play something different and I will just improvise.”
At this point in the conversation, it has become evident that Kid Khuthaza has found comfort in his identity in a foreign land and that his contributions have been well received by the Swedish audience as well as his band members, his responses are effortless, heavily loaded and yet so succinct, very similar to his delivery of verses and bars that he lays down for Off The Meds. His style of delivery is extremely reminiscent of that of a Kwaito .
Kid Khutaza pays homage to the genre through his raw minimalist delivery infused with jovial stories of everyday life laced on very experimental and alternative beats, I began to wonder if his style is premeditated or naturally a part of who he is; “It’s pretty easy for me to write monotonous lyrics, I’d do like an 8 bar and do the hook then repeat the 8 bar, which is very similar to how Kwaito is or how old school grime is. It makes it easier for people to get and then it’s easier for them to sing along. It’s the style of writing I prefer. I write about everyday things and things that happen around me.”
I’m not saying they copied it but they sort of followed that interest.
The history of Kwaito has been one so solid and rooted that it has been difficult for musicians to replicate or carry the flag as custodians of the genre, leading to most believing that the genre has met it’s painful end. It has however remained the soundtrack to our childhoods and thus birthed an evolution if you may of modern musicians who have, just like Khutaza, infused it into their sound to share with a global audience; this topic resonates with both of us as kids “running” the dusty streets of the hood in euphoria looking for the next adventure, stealing peaches, eating amakipkip and ice blocks while the reverberating bass lines and minimal lyrics in the far background play what would be the soundtracks to our youth and for him the impetus to what would become an integral ingredient in his music- I’m filled with so much passion and excitement as I ask: “Everybody is really trying to bring the Kwaito sound back, do you think it’s a beautiful thing or it’s one of those things that people should let go of?”, for the first time in the conversation his response begins with a slight hesitation, as if he is trying to piece the right words together in order to avoid conflict or being misunderstood about a very sensitive topic, he continues to respond “I think there’s a lot of people that are doing it and others who are trying to do it, I can personally reference people like Spoek, OKMalumKoolkat, BFG and Sandy B, but Sandy B has been doing it for a long time, and when Dirty Paraffin was coming out, their songs were Kwaito and they took a lot of influence from like bubblegum music and Euro Disco and Yeah, they done it but they got more hype overseas and once the guys from back home heard it, they tried to jump on it. I’m not saying they copied it but they sort of followed that interest.”
— End of part 1, follow us on social media IG: @kaffeinmagazine, Facebook and Twitter @Kaffeinmagazine or subscribe to receive the link to part 2 of this article when it drops—
La Soülchyld on Flipping R&B/Soul, Dropping an album and making #NewBlackHistoryMusic
Who is La Soülchyld, for those who do not know you?
I am a 22-year-old producer who likes to create music that invades the soul and give my listeners an exciting experience while listening to my work. I was born in Rwanda but I am also Ugandan.
Let’s get down to it, the music. Your sound is eclactic and elemental (with an African tribal touch), where did it all start and why this line of sound?
I started finding my own sound around 3 years ago when I created the name La Soülchyld. It began with me flipping R&B/Soul songs like “I Can Love You” by Mary J. Blige, “You’re Makin Me High” by Toni Braxton and such. Along the way, I kept growing thanks to the amazing collaborations I did with artists like RIVR, Kalo and a long list of other amazing producers whom I learned from. After a few years of producing, I found myself with a sound that I could start experimenting with and that’s when I started infusing Latin/African percussion into my work. The reason I chose that line of sound is that I wanted to represent my continent and give my (mostly US) listeners a chance to fall in love with the sounds of Africa.
3 December 2018, you blessed us with Endless which you worked with Zuks. Please share a bit more about that joint.
s/o to the homie Zuks, he is very talented. At first, he sent me that idea almost finished but I remember at the time he was not feeling the 808s he put. So after receiving the stems, I started working on the build-up to get a sense of the direction it was heading and when I felt the percussive elements were right I just let loose. Messed around with my drums and tried creating an 808 line that I felt was addictive and simple then gave it a structure
…and when it came to putting them all together it almost felt like a missing puzzle piece, it just made sense.
I always spent time experimenting and in the early days when I started as La Soülchyld I found myself focusing on certain aspects of my beats, that being my 808s and my percussion. Once I noticed that. I took time to learn about 808s and listened to more world music that had different percussive elements and when it came to putting them all together it almost felt like a missing puzzle piece, it just made sense. Another contributor that helped me with fusing these elements is my knowledge with the platform I use to make music, Logic Pro X. I have been working with Logic Pro X for 5 years and I am very comfortable with the system.
With so much saturation in music (especially on the net), how do you keep your head above waters and remain fresh and authentic?
The best way I try to do that is by focusing on myself and not worrying about what’s happening online. I take my time with my production and try to find what’s the best way to approach each piece and really move at my own time. By focusing on the quality it helps with my authenticity and brings the right fans to my music. Luckily I am still quite quick when it comes to making ideas and I am able to release a song every month so that helps with keeping above waters.
Speaking on authenticity how’s the vibe like during black history month in your town/city?
Sadly I wouldn’t know. I am currently living in Canada focusing on my Masters in Production. However, I do still read about the amazing things young Ugandans & Rwandans are doing for their country and its always inspiring.
What is the name of your new project?
My new project is titled LSCHYLD III. LSCHYLD obviously is my short way for writing La Soülchyld. I started this series after my first EP called Chapters of Soül. I released all my best work under the LSCHYLD series and wanted to continue that however instead of making it an EP like the previous 2 I turned it to an album. I felt all the work going into the project was worthy to be on my first album and I’m very happy with it and the amazing features I got on.
What is the most memorable experience with regards to putting together this work?
There were two moments I won’t forget. One was when Michael Akhari sent me back the stems for his guitar part. I have always said he is a beast when it comes to slick guitar work and creating memorable melodies that haunt your mind. So getting back the stems for track 2 I was at a loss for words because I never expected him to exceed the high expectations I already had. The second one was when I found the sample for Moonlight II. The album was already done and was about to be released the next day but I came across that sample and started working on it asap. I managed to finish it and release it along with the others and yea it was fun working on that track.
What can listeners look forward to in the album?
Just some quality Soül. Tried to step outside my comfort zone with different production techniques I don’t normally do, instrumental structures I don’t usually make, going back to sampling tracks I wouldn’t usually sample and really just find new ways of pushing my sound. Focusing on displaying some sort of emotion with each track and communicating that to the listener with different instruments. People can also look forward to the amazing collabs that came out of this project.
Where can our readers get a hold of more of La Soülchyld?
Written by: Bafana Mjakana
One 2 One 2, A South African duo that explores Future RnB, Hip Hop, House & Electronic Music
One 2 One 2 is comprised of RBI, an ingenious Producer and Composer and SimSima, a Vocalist with a rugged and unusual singing style.
The South African duo’s music dabbles in Future RnB, Hip Hop, House, Electronic and World sounds.
Their debut single, Walk On Water, features Caddy, a fellow South African artist who adds a Motswako flavour to the track.
The single is a feel-good song that pays homage to the universal feeling of freedom, celebrated once the weekend starts.TGIF!
Check out the track on other music platforms here
Words by: Linda Mongala
Album Artwork by: Lethabo Ngakane
What’s the hype about Two Point Owe’s Don’t Be Afraid – Dilla Tribute?
J.Dilla was a prolific Detroit underground hip-hop producer and rapper, known to the general masses as 1/3 of the soulful hip-hop group Slum Village. Dilla grew up in a family of musicians with his parents performing as an
He went on to produce A Tribe Called Quest’s Grammy award nominated album Beats, Rhymes and Life and over his career and to his untimely death, this highly gifted musician grew an almost cult like following from avid hip-hop lovers…Globally.
As we come to the end of #DillaMonth we open heartedly and with ease celebrate one of his biggest fans who could be said to have inherited Dilla’s musical genius and spirit.
I’m talking about South African born and Stuttgart based Two Point Owe, a prolific producer with a career that spans from working with the likes of a beat crazy duo called Jungle
In this track he decided to pay another tribute to his idol by creating a song out of his favourite Dilla joints, from the drums, stabs, effects and even raps. Check out and download (free) his “Don’t Be Afraid – Dilla Tribute”
NanaBcool #NewBlackHistoryMusic’s Sugar Honey Ice Tea
Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Ghanaian-American singer, rapper, dancer NanaBcool blends smooth, soulful vocals with electrifying dance steps to bring a fresh groove to RnB. We caught up with him to find out why he is the future of black music? his thoughts on black history month and his journey from our ears to our hearts.
So,Where did you grow up?
Columbus, Ohio Eastside (Turnberry)
How was it like growing up in Ohio and what type of family unit did you have?
Growing up was cool, I grew up in a Ghanaian family with my mom, dad, sister, and my grandma. I was surrounded by the Ghanaian community at home and church. And I grew up in a neighborhood where pretty much all of my best-friends lived, I feel like I always had a strong support system in my endeavours and when I got my first condenser mic all of my homies were in the basement rapping and singing with me, the love from them is still here to this day.
How did you get into music?
My dad plays the keys at my church, while also on his side of the family every one of his brothers plays the piano; so growing up there was always music in the house and my mother
My parents had Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour in Bucharest on Vhs and I played that concert at-least 10,000 times (see what I did there lol) I was always being put onto good music.
2 years back you dropped the 2am cruise EP, what inspired that EP and do you have any favourite tracks on there?
That ep was inspired by life during 2012-2013. I moved from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago, Atlanta and finally New York within those years. That ep was supposed to summarize my journey up until that point.
My favourite song on that project is Ohio Player. Being from Ohio we have a lot of hometown pride, so being able to make a song that details some of my stories on the come up means a lot to me.
The track 10k hours sees you singing about diversifying your income streams, a lot of growing up as well as decision making…how much of those thoughts are still relevant right now?
I honestly still feel the same but I play a lot more shows now. Listening back I feel like I spoke things into existence with that song …“I’m finna play these shows, I’m a live nigga” and I still believe in the concept of 9-5 and 6-9. At the time I was spending as much time possible in the studio really figuring out my sound, though I’m still writing and evolving my sound, I’m working on getting my 10k up on the stage
10k hours is where the perfection starts not where it ends.
So, you’ve recently dropped the video for “Ice Tea”, it’s very fresh and playful compared to your older works…can you tell us a little more about the song and video?
This song is me detailing a day in the life of a young person living in Brooklyn. You find me post 2amCruise more confident and more secure in what I’m doing, that’s why I feel like I’m the Sugar Honey Ice Tea aka The S.H.I.T. The second verse is me reminiscing back to 2012/2013 when I was in the process of moving to NYC and in the process of quitting my job at the bank (advice that I got from a friend and my uncle).
The video was us trying to set the vibe of just kicking back and hanging with the homies. Ice tea is the name of my upcoming album due in March, so Ice Tea is the product that I’m now selling. I feel like everyone feels like they are the sugar honey ice tea(Shit) at some point and even if they don’t they should; so we had to add the infomercial to give y’all that energy.
We know that a historic/iconic month is here, how’s Ohio during Black History month, how is the vibe?
To be honest I haven’t lived in Ohio since Feb 2012. I don’t know if black history month in America is any different. The way I grew up, my schooling copped out and took that time to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. year in and year out. They never took the time to speak about the plethora of black heroes America has experienced.
My thoughts on black history month are that in America its a cop out. Black history IS American history. The truth is America was built for free on the backs of black people and they decided to give us a month? Naw I want more, we deserve more waaay more.
Would you say enough is being done to teach black and mixed race kids about their history?
Definitely not, unless it is a specialized school or if kids have one those special teachers, but it’s not a priority if you’re talking about schooling, they teach about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and if you’re lucky you might hear a sentence about Malcolm X. I was lucky enough that my family raised me with teachings about different black inventors, and revolutionaries. My moms and pops had my sister and I read so many different books by black authors. I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley when I was around 12. So I was brought up to be somewhat militant. Being Ghanaian I had the chance to learn about Ghanaian heroes also, I’m grateful for that.
What legacy do you want to leave behind with your music?
The legacy I want to leave behind is that I made quality art and stayed true to myself while helping black people in any way that I can. I want it to be remembered that I always represented for my culture.
Thanks for giving us an opportunity to know a little bit more about you and your music, it’s important for the global community and the future of black music.
Thank you guys for reaching out to me, it means a lot. Peace and blessings,
Written By: Lethabo Ngakane
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