July '17

Hola mpinji! This is AFROSYNTH, the realest African selection...

Coming up we'll be checking out albums by TERYLENE, THE RIBBONS, BIBBI, POOSH and more.

STEVE KEKANA - Raising My Family (1981)

CCP/EMI. 1A 064-83242
Producers: Malcolm Watson & Tom Vuma, 
Engineers: Philip Nel & Owen Woolf
Recorded at: EMI Brigadiers Studios



Legendary vocalist Steve Kekana was one of the giants of the SA industry in the 80s. After cutting his teeth on traditional mbaqanga vibes (under producer Tom Vuma), he then ventured into more synthesizer-heavy, disco sounds, singing in English and appealing to a wider audience.  Raising my Family, the follow-up to the 1980's Umenziwa Akakhohlwa, blends brainmelting proto-bubblegum supersynths with early Lucky Dube-esque reggae/mbaqanga hybrid sounds, telling tales of pan-africanism, black consciousness and general good vibes. No wonder this is the album that established SK as an international star - it  a huge hit in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia. 

1981 was also the year he sang the powerful duet "Feel so Strong" with PJ Powers from Hotline - a daring black-white collaboration that was initially banned by apartheid censors for containing lyrics  promoting racial harmony. Kekana later provided guest vocals on Hotline's 1983 album Music for Africa. Together they embarked on a groundbreaking European tour in the early 80s. Kekana also went on to guest on Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse's smash hit 'Burnout' in 1984.

Highlights on this album are "Colour Me Black',  the title track and "Living Underground". All feature wicked programming courtesy of Malcolm Watson, who worked with Brenda & the Big Dudes and a host of other major bubblegum acts of the era. I found this in a fleamarket at Am Hof on the streets of Vienna, filed under reggae.