Maskandi music takes YouTube by storm

Traditional genre artists coining it in digital world

02 July 2021 - 15:57
By patience bambalele AND Patience Bambalele
Khuzani Mpungose.
Image: Instagram Khuzani Mpungose.

Maskandi artists are catching quite fast in the digital world, especially YouTube.

Since the closure of record bars like Musica, the artists have been forced to embrace digital world.

Maskandi star Khuzani Mpungose and legendary outfit Shwi NoMtekhala demonstrated with their latest releases that they were serious trendsetters in the genre. Mpungose, who won Ukhozi FM Ingoma Ehlukanisa Unyaka competition with 900,000 votes, had his song Ijele clocking 2.2 million views on YouTube in six months. Ijele, which has also turned into a maskandi national anthem, is part of the album Isipoki Esingafi that was released in December.

The song Uthando, which features singers Nathi Mankayi and Mnqobi Yazo, received 1.3 million views on YouTube. African traditional music expert and author of many books, Eric Ngobe, said it was a rare thing to see maskandi songs performing well on YouTube. Ngobe said seeing maskandi doing well on digital platforms meant that the genre has moved on with times.

“I think fan clubs had contributed to the shift we are seeing in maskandi artists, especially the young ones. Unlike the old generation of artists, the young artists are using social media to promote their brands and we are starting to see the results. Maskandi artists are really catching up.”

Shwi Nomtekhala manager Bongani Manyathi said they were excited by the achievement because they were testing waters. Manyathi said the song Uthando has mbaqanga feel and seem to have resonated with many people.

"We saw that many hip-hop artists were fusing a lot of mbaqanga sound in their music, beating us at our own game. Since maskandi can be limiting at times, with Uthando we tried something new and it worked. When we created the song, we were looking for a crossover song. We brought in Nathi and Mnqobi. Since we were testing waters, we were shocked to get 500,000 views in just weeks of its release."

Manyathi said the group, which has released 18 albums, has found a working formula that it will use when recording its 19th offering to be released in few months time. Mpungose said clocking 2.2milion views on his song just proved that maskandi was catching up and can no longer be sidelined. As much as Ijele and his  album are not nominated in the South African Music Awards (Samas), he said he was not bitter.

"If Samas judges do not see what the whole world sees in my album and the song, there is nothing I can do about that. Ijele became a Song of the Year, voted by hundreds of people in December. The album topped the charts for many weeks on iTunes, but I am not angry. The song is sung everywhere in South Africa, it has taken social media by storm. This has just proven that maskandi music has arrived and will continue performing well. My next move will be to challenge commercial radio stations to play the music."