Introducing i(m)bali

First it’s name was Archives. I had even thought about how I was going to make the h in Archives the hdot logo. But then I asked the Universe to give me another name if Archives was not it. It came to me in the shower. And I am obedient to the call of the Universe. So here we are: i(m)bali. Quick backtrack: I have spoken to A LOT of musicians throughout the years. Often, 1000 words (or less) in an article does not do their stories justice. Especially if there is a gig or a specific album to be dissected in the article. And South African artists don’t always get to tell their stories in detail. Sometimes we only find out the genius or complexity of an artist at their memorial service. So this year, I am digging into my archives to give you details about South African music history straight from the mouths of the people who lived it. Ibali is a story. Imbali is a flower. My intention is to be the vessel for these artists’ stories and in doing so, give them their flowers while they can smell them. Th first episode tracks Thebe’s journey from wanting to be a sound engineer to being one of the most beloved kwaito artists of all time. Tell a friend if you enjoy it.

On: Thebe

Thebe is everyone’s favourite kwaito uncle. When we meet, the restaurant is so noisy that I ask him if he minds if we sit outside where people will likely want to speak to him. “I don’t mind,” he says nonchalantly, “I love the people.” Exactly how you’d expect a famous relative to react. I catch the stares from passers-by and hope I won’t have to stop the recorder on my phone. But then Thebe’s cellphone rings and it’s Bruce Sebitlo. Who am I to not press pause for two legends chatting about hanging out? Thebe, whose favourite past time now is spending hours on the Vaal River on his boat, Chizboy Ambiance, is rarely in Joburg. This weekend, he will be performing in Newtown at TONGHT which is brought to you by DJ Kenzhero, Kid Fonque and Maria McCloy. The party specifically created for the grown and sexy in mind is exactly what Thebe was willing to leave his boat and home for because “my music has always had that acid jazz influence and TONGHT does too”. Once he’s hung up the phone, I ask Thebe, born Thebe Mogane in Polokwane, about a destiny that started with being roomies with a young Sebitlo. “I was studying and deejaying in Mahikeng,” Thebe starts. “There was that Bop recording studio – the best in the country – and I went there to get a job. They didn’t have one for me so I worked and learned for free.” “Bruce had a keyboard at his place so if I wasn’t at the studio, I’d be at Bruce’s house and he’d create these tracks. I would take them and then go and play them in my DJ sets. While deejaying, I’d have these gimmicks where I shout people out over the songs or say things that were popular in the streets.” See where he got his penchant for roll calls that become entire songs? Anyway, Thebe would be at Sebitlo’s house so often that it began to seem like he lived there. While deejaying, Thebe mixed in one of Sebitlo’s creations and “people went Read More …