Sugar Man – Just Jinger

1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

by John Samson

Greatest Hits - Just Jinger
Greatest Hits – Just Jinger

When Rodriguez walked out onto the stage in Cape Town back in 1998 to kick off his first ever SA tour, he thanked the audience for keeping him alive. And a large part of that thanks could have been directed towards Ard Mathews and Just Jinger as their cover version of the Rodriguez classic, ‘Sugarman’, was probably as important in bringing the Detroit musician to a new generation of fans as the army call up was to his first South African fans.

‘Cold Fact’, the Rodriguez album that contained ‘Sugarman’ had been around since the late 60’s early 70’s and seemed to live in the air we breathed back then. Nearly every white South African home had a copy of the album and everyone knew the song. It seemed only natural then for someone to cover it, but strangely it had to wait till the 90’s before Just Jinger plucked up the courage to take on such a revered song. And they did the right thing with their cover as it is as straight forward a cover of an original as one could get. Just about the only difference between the original and the JJ’s version is Ard’s grungey vocals compared to Rodriguez’s folky ones.

So what, you may ask, is the point of producing a cover that is pretty much the same as the original? Well, I think that the fact that Just Jinger didn’t deviate too far from the original shows their huge respect for the song and the singer as they didn’t want to mess too much with the original, seeing it as perfection in itself, so they could only imitate and not add to it. The second reason that this was an important cover was laid out in the first paragraph of this article. Just Jinger were becoming one of the biggest bands in the land and the fact that they tipped their hat to this classic song had their younger fans digging out their moms and dads CDs to check out the original.

At the time Just Jinger covered this track, there was hardly another cover of the track, let alone a cover of any other Rodriguez tracks out there (there were some and a list of pre-‘Searching For Sugar Man’ covers can be found here: http://sugarman.org/coverversions.html). Just Jinger with their excellent and timely cover of the track helped keep Rodriguez alive and well and they did so reverentially, letting the song take the limelight. This would have to go down as one of the greatest covers of an international track by an SA band.

Where to find it:
Something For Now (1998)
Greatest Hits (2001)

Video:

Mixcloud:

 
The South African Rock Encyclopedia:

Just Jinger

The Hidden Years Of South African Music

The Institut français (Paris), the French Embassy in South Africa and IFAS-Research are pleased to present the Hidden Years Music Archive Project, which is hosted by the Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (Faculty of Art and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University). This documentary is part of a project initiated and supported by the Institut français (Paris), the French Institute of South Africa and IFAS-Research, called “Sounds of Southern Africa”.

Mixtape Hope

mixtapehope.buzzsprout.com

I am writing to firstly say “thank you” to Mr. Rodriguez for sharing his story with the world.
My husband and I watched the documentary “Searching for Sugarman”. One of the most striking undercurrents of the film was the strength in spirit emanating from the music. Real stories set to music.

My husband and I began a podcast to share such stories behind lyrics and music.
“Mixtape Hope” has gained momentum as we (both physicians) share with our listeners the power, purpose, beauty and healing that music holds.

In a world where many people feel that healing must come from medicine or walking through this life numbed, we want to shed light on the human creative spirit…just as we felt in watching the documentary.

We would love the opportunity to interview Mr. Rodriguez.

Please check us out and thank you for taking the time to read this.

mixtapehope.buzzsprout.com

Drs. Andrea and Luis Espinoza

Turn it Down: A look back at that time Sixto Rodriguez dissed the MC5 | City Pulse

Detroit street-poet folky appeared in the ‘60s then disappeared

From City Pulse

 

Sixto Rodriguez, shown here in 1969, is now 78 and lived through decades of musical obscurity.
Sixto Rodriguez, shown here in 1969, is now 78 and lived through decades of musical obscurity. COURTESY: Rich Tupica

In a 1969 interview, Mexican-American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez had some harsh words for some of his fellow Michigan musicians. “I don’t have much respect for the MC5 because they stopped fighting the machine,” he casually told the Detroit Free Press.

While today both parties are known for their own revolutionary sonic missions, it’s no wonder why Rodriguez felt lukewarm about the hard-partying and grandstanding MC5. The modest Rodriguez lived the life he sang about. He was, and still is, a true underdog — a disconnected outsider who sings songs for other outcasts.

“I grew up in an orphanage and I’m grateful to the sisters of the Roman Catholic corporation for all they gave me and instilling that higher motivation thing,” he said in the same 1969 interview. “But that doesn’t work on the street, you know?”

And he knew all about the streets. During his 1950s youth, it served as his makeshift education. Though he never attended high school, he took part in the University of Michigan’s mature student program in the late ’60s. He fought for his education. “Street life teaches you a lot,” he said at the time. “At school, they’re just giving me different names for the things already in my head. … I function out of the reality of things around me.”

And that reality is cemented on his two now-legendary albums: 1970’s “Cold Fact” and 1971’s “Coming from Reality.” Billed simply under the name Rodriguez, the now-cherished records flopped here in the United States, causing the songwriter to sink deeper into the underground and step away from the stage. For years, his small but loyal fanbase didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Info on him was scarce. His followers were limited to reading tidbits written in his LP liner notes and clues he peppered into his poignant storytelling song lyrics.

However, on the other side of the globe, his two loner-folk LPs were secretly bootlegged and released in the Apartheid-era South Africa. Because it was pre-Internet, Rodriguez didn’t even hear about his South African success until years later. There, he was a mysterious celebrity, but here in the U.S. he was living hand to mouth in inner-city Detroit.

So what sound was it that captivated a far-away country to worship an unknown Motor City folky? A 27-year old Rodriguez explained it best. “Some people say I’m a folk singer because most of my stuff is soft with an acoustic guitar and all that,” the prophetic songwriter said. “But on my album, there are some very Motown-ish things. The division they talk of in music really isn’t there. … Later on, they’ll integrate music on the stations. There’ll be no ‘This is ours and that is theirs.’ It’s all music. It’s the universal thing.”

After years of obscurity, after a slowly swelling grassroots cult following grew, Rodriguez finally got his due. He began touring the world, sharing stages with the likes of Brian Wilson. During the last decade, he’s gone from scraping by, to earning an easy living thanks to his poetic songbook.

In 2012, his life was artfully documented in the “Searching for Sugar Man” film (“Sugar Man” being one of his most notable tracks). That year, it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Not a bad feather in the cap for most, but the elusive Rodriguez was nowhere to be found at the ceremony. He later humbly admitted he didn’t want to steal attention from the filmmakers, among a few other reasons.    

“We also just came back from South Africa and I was tired,” the forever-enigmatic Rodriguez told Rolling Stone at the time. “I was asleep when it won, but my daughter Sandra called to tell me. I don’t have TV service anyway.”

Train Don’t Run – New Video from Steve Louw

Steve Louw and his band Big Sky appeared with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998 as featured in the Oscar-winning film “Searching For Sugar Man“.

Here is the official video for “Train Don’t Run”, created by Jacqui van Staden. From the album “Headlight Dreams“, produced by Kevin Shirley and released 7 May 2021.

… my favourite track on this album is the almost proggish “Train Don’t Run”. Clocking in at seven and half minutes this is an epic tune that you hope never finishes. There is a soaring guitar solo by Rob McNelley that David Gilmour fans will love. No surprise to discover that this track was mixed on the same console as the classic “Dark Side Of The Moon“.

Brian Currin
Headlight Dreams review on AllMusic.com

Stream/download “Headlight Dreams”

https://orcd.co/SteveLouwHeadlightDreams

STEVE LOUW ONLINE

http://stevelouw.com/
https://instagram.com/stevelouw/
https://twitter.com/stevelouwmusic
https://facebook.com/stevelouwmusic/
https://sptfy.com/stevelouw
https://apple.co/3iKTV9g

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

My grandfather was a railroadman and in the 1930s my father rode trains looking for work. To me, trains symbolise our attempts to bend nature to our will – and we’re seeing that trying to do that will never work. Silence will always return to the plains, the wind will blow, tracks will crumble and the earth will breathe again. This song has the wide open plains in it; dry cracked earth and a broken land.

The song builds from a driving acoustic guitar and hypnotic bassline to a haunting guitar solo by Rob McNeeley. The production (by Kevin Shirley) brings out the relentlessness of the song and of what we inflict on our planet.

Steve Louw

TRAIN DON’T RUN
(Recorded February 27, 2020)

The wind blows across empty plains
That hold so many bones
The rails glow years since the rain
Horses roam on broken stones
Train don’t run round here no more
Train is gone for us all

Put down a coin on the track
Saw silver turn through black
Seeds thrown all come back
Haunt the earth broken and cracked
Train don’t run round here no more
Train won’t come for us all

I can help you cross if you’ll let me
Spirits roam across this broken land
What’s been lost you can see
Count the cost can’t understand
Train don’t run round here no more
Train is gone for us all



Have you got your ticket to watch MEX21? Online until 2 Oct

Music Exchange turns 10
WATCH #MEX21 ONLINE NOW

Lauded and awarded for its consistent commitment to the broader South African music industry, #MEX21 runs until 2 October 2021, with a wealth of quality international and local speakers.

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online


Our Keynote speaker, from Australia, is Michael Smellie. He speaks about the seven deadly sins of the music business. Michael’s career in the music business spans more than 25 years. He has worked across five continents as former Global Chief Operations Officer of Sony BMG, Asia Pacific Head for BMG, and Managing Director of Polygram and rooArt in Australia.

Michael is an investor, adviser and board member to many start-ups’ creative businesses in Australia and the United States and is currently the Board Chair of the Music Council of Australia.


Stuart Rubin, from New Zealand, speaks about the importance of the song and looking to legacy for wisdom and inspiration as well as unpacking Elvis 30 Number 1’s and Neil Diamond. In 2001 he moved to New York, becoming Senior VP International for BMG. Following the merger with SONY, three years later, Stuart was made Senior VP International of Commercial Marketing.

Stuart’s interview reveals a person fascinated with people, whether they are artists or music lovers. With his long experience in selling music to a global market, and as an A&R professional, he delivers a unique perspective on the industry.


Gasant Abarder, the author of Hack the Grenade, columnist, and former editor of the Cape Times & Argus speaks to the Cape Town reality for artists and his take on the media landscape in both print and online.


We speak to legacy with producer Greg Cutler, an engineer from London; regarding his relationships with Harari, Hotline and Rabbit, bands that shaped the SA sound that we know and love today.

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online

The #MEX21 speaker line-up includes, but is not limited to:
Michael Smellie – Chairman of Music Australia – Australia
Jason Grishkoff – Founder SubmitHub – USA
Stephen Werner – Station Manager @ KFM – RSA
Stuart Rubin – Former Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG – New Zealand
Gasant Abarder – Author, and former editor at Independent Newspapers – RSA
Gillian Ezra – Group Head of Commercial – simfy africa, MusicTime, Ayoba
Phenyo Gasebonoe – Digital Content Manager at Ayoba, Africa’s first Super App – an all in one Instant Messaging Platform – RSA 
Greg Cutler – Producer engineer visionary proud ambassador of SA Music legacy – UK
Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA
RJ Benjamin – Artist – RSA
Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online



Gillian Ezra – Group Head of Commercial – simfy africa, MusicTime, Ayoba 


Phenyo Gasebonoe is a Digital Content Manager at Ayoba, Africa’s first Super App – an all in one Instant Messaging Platform -RSA

 
Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA


RJ Benjamin – Artist– RSA


Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online

#MEX21 talks deliver on what MEX is known and respected for by delivering quality conversations that lead to quantifiable outcomes. In partnership with 

Ticketpro
Paul Bothner Music
Western Cape Government
AYOBA 
and the City of Cape Town 

#MEX21 hosts entertainment industry thought-leaders and game-changers in 30-to-60-minute presentations on the Ticketpro streaming platform.
 
For a mere R100 investment, per ticket, #MEX21 delegates will enjoy an all-access pass to the full  conference, comprising a series of unmissable keynote addresses and international thought leadership sessions from some of the most relevant and revolutionary minds in the business.
 Secure your ticket and watch here:
https://tickets.heroticket.co.za/thero/shops/985c875Click here to secure your tickets & watch online

For booking details, and more information, go to musicexchange.org.za

For more information and interview opportunities, please contact:
Martin Myers @ MEX
martmyers@gmail.com
083 448 4475


In association with the City of Cape Town

In association with the Western Cape Government Cultural Affairs and Sport

MUSIC EXCHANGE (#MEX21) SPEAKS TO THE ENTERTAINMENT ECONOMY 

MUSIC EXCHANGE (#MEX21), South Africa’s preeminent entertainment-economy-invested conference, returns this September for the 11th consecutive year, hosted by Ticketpro.

Lauded and awarded for its consistent commitment to the broader South African music industry, #MEX21 will run from 11 September to 2 October 2021, with a wealth of quality international and local speakers.

Some of the topics #MEX21 will unpack, in detail, include our streaming reality, the platforms generating engagement (Ayoba) and driving artist’s incomes (SubmitHub), right through to the importance of heritage (MEX Chairman), the state of radio in South Africa (KFM), and just how artists are rebuilding and morphing in response to the pandemic (RJ Benjamin).

Our Keynote speaker, from Australia, is Michael Smellie. He speaks about the seven deadly sins of the music business.

Michael’s career in the music business spans more than 25 years.

He has worked across five continents as former Global Chief Operations Officer of Sony BMG, Asia Pacific Head for BMG, and Managing Director of Polygram and rooArt in Australia.

He is an investor, adviser and board member to many start-ups’ creative businesses in Australia and the United States and is currently the Board Chair of the Music Council of Australia.

Stuart Rubin, from New Zealand, speaks about the importance of the song and looking to legacy for wisdom and inspiration as well as unpacking Elvis 30 Number 1’s and Neil Diamond.

At the height of his career, he was Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG. Stuart’s career in music started in New Zealand in 1976 with PolyGram. 

He “crossed the ditch” to Australia and held several senior marketing roles in PolyGram and BMG, before moving to Hong Kong in the 1990s where he became BMG’s VP of International Marketing for the Asia-Pacific region. In 2001 he moved to New York, becoming Senior VP International for BMG. Following the merger with SONY, three years later, Stuart was made Senior VP International of Commercial Marketing. 

Stuart’s interview reveals a person fascinated with people, whether they are artists or music lovers. With his long experience in selling music to a global market, and as an A&R professional, he delivers a unique perspective on the industry.

Gasant Abarder, the author of Hack the Grenade, columnist, and former editor of the Cape Times & Argus speaks to the Cape Town reality for artists and his take on the media landscape in both print and online.

We speak to legacy with producer Greg Cutler, an engineer from London; regarding his relationships with Harari, Hotline and Rabbit, bands that shaped the SA sound that we know and love today.

Despite the past 18 months being the most challenging in MEX’s decade-plus dedication, investment and global outreach, Music Exchange 2021 (#MEX21) is opening its annual industry-focused indaba to the world come 11 September 2021.

Over the past 11 years, MEX has actively informed, partnered and brokered with some of the biggest and most influential players and institutions, with the sole purpose of elevating, educating and sharing a wealth of learning from all four corners of the planet and 2021’s #MEX21 commits to being no different.

If anything, #MEX21 is offering everyone, directly or indirectly professionally affected by the pandemic, an opportunity to explore the possibility of change, with speakers who exemplify talent, success, and perseverance at a time like no other.

MEX has welcomed and hosted the likes of composer Dr Trevor Jones, musician and producer Bryan Michael Cox the Orchard’s Ben Oldfield, Mark Murdoch, Mos Def, Tim Renner, Rachel Z, Tom Novy, Karen Zoid, Siphokazi Jonas, Christian Wright from Abbey Road, Arthur and Charles Goldstuck and Moreira Chonguica among many more, all in an impressive lead up to this year’s impressive list of confirmed speakers.

The #MEX21 speaker line-up includes, but is not limited to:

Michael Smellie – Chairman of Music Australia – Australia.

Jason Grishkoff – Founder SubmitHub – USA.

Stephen Werner – Station Manager @ KFM – RSA.

Stuart Rubin Former Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG – New Zealand. 

Gasant Abarder Author, and former editor at Independent Newspapers – RSA.

Greg Cutler – Producer engineer visionary proud ambassador of SA Music legacy – UK.

Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA.

RJ Benjamin – Artist – RSA.

Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA.

With more names to follow, #MEX21 talks will deliver on what MEX is known and respected for by delivering quality conversations that lead to quantifiable outcomes.

In partnership with Ticketpro, Paul Bothner MusicWestern Cape Government, AYOBA and the City of Cape Town.

 #MEX21 will host local entertainment industry thought-leaders and game-changers in 30-to-60-minute presentations on the Ticketpro streaming platform.

For a mere R100 investment, per ticket, #MEX21 delegates will enjoy an all-access pass to the full 11-day conference, comprising a series of unmissable keynote addresses and international thought leadership sessions from some of the most relevant and revolutionary minds in the business.

Martin Myers, founder, and convener of the conference remarked “2021 is another big year in Music Exchange’s history. Our collective and ongoing investment to help influence, adapt, evolve and remain relevant in a massively compromised economy sits at the heart of all we do.”

Follow us on Facebook to get breaking announcements, as they happen.

Secure your ticket and watch here:

https://tickets.heroticket.co.za/thero/shops/985c875

For booking details, and more information, go to: musicexchange.org.za

For more information and interview opportunities, please contact:

Martin Myers @ MEX

martmyers@gmail.com

083 448 4475

Steve Louw launches new video for “Get Out My Heart”

Steve Louw – Get Out My Heart

The official video for “Get Out My Heart”, created by Jacqui van Staden.

From the album “Headlight Dreams”, released 7 May 2021.

Stream/download “Headlight Dreams” at https://orcd.co/SteveLouwHeadlightDreams

STEVE LOUW ONLINE

http://stevelouw.com/
https://instagram.com/stevelouw/
https://twitter.com/stevelouwmusic
https://facebook.com/stevelouwmusic/
https://sptfy.com/stevelouw
https://apple.co/3iKTV9g

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

I like the opening line: “I’d rather walk than drive another mile with you.” Two people who can’t figure out if they love or hate each other, or both . . . It’s different to all the other songs but the in-your-face vocal, acoustic guitar riff and weird time signature sucks you into their personal mayhem. I only had the “get out of my heart” line when I started writing this song, singing along to power chords and a Bo Diddley-type beat, and later wrote the verses. I thought of the song as a rocker and a cry in the dark. We played it that way live and it went down well but I felt the song was too linear for the lyric and I put it aside. About a week before going into the studio I tried playing and singing the chorus in a different time signature and suddenly the song took on the mood of the lyric, which is pretty dark – and the story came into stark relief. Once we got the time signature nailed down in the studio I found I could sing the lyrics with the space it needed. I love the sound of the vocal.

Steve Louw

GET OUT OF MY HEART
(Recorded February 28, 2020)

I’d rather walk than drive another mile with you
More dead than alive, I need room to move
To get you out of my heart, won’t you let me be
Right from the start, you let me bleed
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’ve been apart
I can see I was blind

No way of knowing if this turns out bad or good
Got to get going, I’m heading for the woods
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’ve been apart
I can see I was blind

You set me free, and I keep crawling back
Only thing that we do, stay on this one-way track
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’re apart
I can see I was blind

I’m lying across this cold empty bed
I’m not feeling lost, I’m sleeping like the dead
First time since the start that I got peace of mind
Stay out of my heart
For the last time
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’ve been apart
I can see I was blind

“Sixto” by Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce

Liberia Ballad by Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce
“Sixto” by Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce

I am Ernest Bruce (Ernie Bruce), a singer living in Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa).

In collaboration with the Swedish group Orjan Hilten Orion, we recently released an album entitled “Liberia Ballad… Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce” The album does include a song that is dedicated to you, and tells your story. It was originally written by Orjan, the leader of the band, and is an instrumental on the group’s album Faltrapport.

The band met me while visiting Liberia on invitation from the Swedish Embassy…there was an instant exchange of artistic creativity, and Orjan asked whether I would write some lyrics for the song “Sixto”.

We are all pleased with the outcome of our collaboration, and are simply making an effort to make you aware of it and, hopefully, enjoy it. While the album is now available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and others.

Blessings to you in all your future endeavours.

https://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/orjan-hulten-orion-featuring–ernie-bruce-liberia-ballad

Ernie

Dead Men Don’t Tour, Rodriguez in South Africa 1998 (TV Documentary)

This documentary was shown on South African Television this week, 20 years ago.

Footage from this documentary features strongly in the Oscar winning film, Searching For Sugar Man.

Dead Men Don’t Tour

Directed by Tonia Selley and featuring Big Sky, “Dead Men Don’t Tour”, was first broadcast on SABC 3 at 9.30pm on the 5th July 2001 just after ‘Ripley’s Believe Or Not’.

This film features wonderful concert footage, backstage antics, interviews with Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, Rodriguez and his family, the promoters, the fans and the musicians.

All live footage was filmed at the concerts in Pretoria, Durban and the Blues Room in Johannesburg.

The soundtrack for the documentary is based on the Live Fact CD with video collages from the various performances. The concert footage is linked with interviews, backstage antics, rehearsals, etc.

  1. I Wonder
  2. Inner City Blues
  3. Jane S. Piddy
  4. Sugar Man
  5. A Most Disgusting Song
  6. Like Janis
  7. Establishment Blues
  8. Climb Up On My Music
  9. I Wonder by Generation EXT (filmed during the studio recording)
  10. Forget It

Produced by Incha Productions
Executive producers: Georgina Parkin and Charles Watson
Directed by Tonia Selley
Edited by Cathy Winter

March 1998 (left-to-right): Willem Moller, Sixto Rodriguez, Tonia Selley, Steve Louw, Graeme Currie, Reuben Samuels, kneeling front: Russel Taylor
March 1998 (left-to-right): Willem Moller, Sixto Rodriguez, Tonia Selley, Steve Louw, Graeme Currie, Reuben Samuels, kneeling front: Russel Taylor

BLK JKS – Abantu / Before Humans

BLK JKS, (pronounced Black Jacks), are a South African rock band from Johannesburg, formed in 2000.

Childhood friends Mpumelelo Mcata and Lindani Buthelezi grew up together in Spruitview, East Rand, where they founded the Blk Jks in 2000. After varying line-ups, they were joined by Molefi Makananise (bass) and Tshepang Ramoba (drums) from Soweto and the four played their first gig in Grahamstown in 2005. A year later, they came second in the run-up to represent South Africa at the Global Battle of the Bands competition. After the release of a self-titled EP with five songs, the band began recording songs at SABC studio for a LP titled ‘After Robots’. Due to lack of funds and without a record label, these unedited masters were not completed. Instead, in 2007 the Blk Jks released a collector’s 10-inch of ‘Lakeside’ and a series of lo-fi records titled ‘Kilani Sessions’.

Notwithstanding limited recognition in South Africa, Blk Jks gained international acclaim. American DJ Diplo noticed them while on tour in South Africa and offered to sign the band to his Mad Decent label. While the deal was never closed, Diplo still brought them over to New York City. So, early in 2008 Blk Jks toured the United States and in March appeared on the cover of Fader Magazine. Later that year, they also toured Europe and eventually signed with U.S. indie label Secretly Canadian. Their EP ‘Mystery’ was recorded at New York’s famous Electric Lady Studios. It was first released independently in 2008 and later reissued with Secretly Canadian in 2009.

Another tour to the United States included a gig at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. Being signed to a label also allowed the Blk Jks to finally finish their debut album. Produced by Secret Machines’ Brandon Curtis, ‘After Robots’ was released by Secretly Canadian on 8 September 2009. Rolling Stone magazine dubbed Blk Jks “Africa’s best new band” and rated ‘After Robots’ three-and-a-half out of five stars; the review states “When  Blk Jks do it their way, they sound like nothing else”.

Likewise, a review on Pitchfork appreciated ‘After Robots’ as “a hugely ambitious album, with swooping forays into kwaito, ska, reggae, ambience, jazz, prog, and furor.” Nonetheless, the review’s author complained the Blk Jks would not live up to the hype created by comparisons calling them the “African TV on the Radio” and he only gave the album a 6.2 rating. Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl, on the other hand, declared ‘After Robots’ his favourite album of 2009.

Credit: Mail & Guardian

Their international reputation also gained the band more attention nationally. The Mail & Guardian listed the Blk Jks in their yearly feature of eminent 200 Young South Africans in 2009 and 2010. The band was nominated for best album and best English alternative album at the 2010 South African Music Awards, taking home the latter. Blk Jks released their EP ‘Zol!’ just two days before performing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off concert in Soweto’s Orlando Stadium on June 10, 2010. The band’s track ‘Lakeside’, taken from After Robots, also featured on the soundtrack EA Sports’ FIFA 10 video game.

After their international tours, the Blk Jks kept playing gigs in South Africa. Lindani Buthelezi and the other band members were eventually estranged. Buthelezi formed God Sons and Daughter in 2012 and left the Blk Jks shortly after. Mcata and Ramoba started a DJ project called Blk Jks Soundsystem together, as well as the band Motèl Mari with João Orrechia. Mcata directed ‘Black President,’ a documentary film about Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai. Ramoba started producing for singer Moonchild Sanelly. The three remaining band members nevertheless kept working together. In 2014, they opened for the Foo Fighters on their tour in South Africa and terminated their contract with Secretly Canadian. Two new members also joined the group: trumpeter Tebogo Seitei and Hlubi Vakalisa on saxophone and keyboards.

Together with the South African ensemble The Brother Moves On, Blk Jks collaborated in a project called ‘Blk Brother’ in 2015, something they have done in the past with Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré and his band. For the Afropunk Festival in Johannesburg in 2017, they collaborated with singer Thandiswa Mazwai as ‘King Tha’ vs. Blk Jks. As a tribute to the legendary South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela, who died in January 2018, the Blk Jks covered ‘The Boy’s Doin’ It’ together with Masekela’s son Selema ‘Sal’ Masekela of Alekesam and nephew Selema. It was the band’s first release in nine years.

In 2019, the Blk Jks announced their upcoming second album with the release of their single ‘Harare’ (feat. Morena Leraba). And in June 2021, Blk Jks have released their latest album ‘Abantu/Before Humans’. The nine-track album is “a sonic ode to the continent of Africa that offers a soul-lifting and punk-electronic experience”.

Buy at Permanent Records

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