Here’s something that’s been happening for a while that I’m really feeling that we haven’t touched upon before Gqom and Jumping Back Slash explains what it is:
“Gqom. Pronounced a bit like the French ‘gomme’ but the q is a post-alveolar click. A post-alveolar click is made by your tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Like the sound people make when they are imitating horses galloping. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
Gqom comes out of Durban. It started out being called Broken Beat and in a way was a reaction to SA house, stripping away everything until it was just a beat. Gqom is not 4 on the 4. The kick is broken and syncopated, any musical content is distilled down, usually to one note and any vocals are reduced down to shouts, yelps and exclamations. It’s repetitive, hypnotic, dark, tribal music and when I first heard it I went mental. MENTAL. Gqom was the biggest influence on my music since arriving in SA back in 2007.
It’s made by kids, most of them unknown – I could do entire sets with tunes that have a phone number or BBM pin as the song name and artist! Most of the tracks are low-bitrate mp3s that are overly compressed and slightly distorted at times, but all of this adds to the charm. In a way it’s comparable to UK Grime where kids have got their hands on computers, cracked versions of Fruity Loops and Reason and gone to work. Mostly, the crews end in Boys, Boyz or Boiz, for example: Rudeboyz, Illumination Boiz, AudioBoyz, Naked Boyz, 3 Way Boys, DJ Lag, DJ Julz, Menchess, Citizen Boy.
In so many ways, it’s one of the truest and purest youth music movements to come from the country as it does not take influence from anything outside SA. It takes the existing vibes of kwaito and house in all its forms in SA (Durban, Bacardi etc.) and moves it forward. And yet, it exist in a bit of a vacuum even within SA. It’s not very well known and that’s a shame because Gqom is the real fucking deal.
The best place to find Gqom is kasimp3.co.za where kids upload their tunes for free download. They get paid from advertising on site, it’s a wicked site that is supporting this new generation of boys having a bash. In the UK people like Okzharp are flying the flag at gigs and on mixes and Kode 9 even stuck a couple of DJ Lag tunes in a recent mix for RA. So go check out Okzharp on the twitters for your educations.
Now thula and bheng to gqom. [that’s “shut up and rave” for those not in the know]”
Here’s a mix he put together for STW:
It’s also been previously covered by Benjamin of Akwaaba music who interviewed Jumping Back Slash for his Fader column Lungu Lungu:
“Another inspiration for JBS is gqom, which is by far the biggest revelation for me on this trip. “That’s maybe a little hard to define. But I guess [gqom is] a more broken sound, a lot more minimal than normal SA house and rarely four to the floor, it’s a raw sound. […] Everyday on my way to work I walk past this group of school kids always banging out gqom stuff on their Blackberrys.” To give you an idea of what these kids are rocking, check out these few tracks.”