Via Mchini breaks prison walls

CODE LANGUAGE: Themba Molefe and Thabo
CODE LANGUAGE: Themba Molefe and Thabo "Bomba" Nkepane, members of the new kwaito group, Via Mchini. Pic. Matthews Baloyi. © Unknown.

Edward Tsumele

Street culture and jail-life experiences are expressed in the release 4Jathola by a new kwaito group, Via Mchini.

Produced by a well-known underground hip-hop producer, The Wax Phantom, 4Jathola's lyrics are informed by the experiences of young, rehabilitated former criminals.

Band members Themba Molefe and Thabo "Bomba" Nkepane, their two vocalists, choreographers and dancers had to spend time with former convicts to learn about their prison experiences, especially the coded language.

"We are not doing this to glorify crime but to give these people another chance," said Molefe.

"This is to say [to convicts] that [prison] is not the end of the road, that there is still a chance for life once they are out of prison."

"But the album is not necessarily about the culture that exists in jail. It is, broadly speaking, a depiction of street culture and of the language that the young pick up in the streets of Johannesburg," said Nkepane.

The Wax Phantom said: "I met these guys about two years ago and it has taken us about one and half years to complete this album, which has 12 tracks. The sound is fresh and unique, and is a broad representation of the rainbow nation.

"Whether you are black, Indian or white, it is easy to connect with this sound.

"It could be described as a funk kwaito sound whose strength is in its lyrical content."

Though it is only now that Via Mchini have released their first album they are not new in showbiz.

"We have been in the music business for 12 years now, mainly as dancers for established kwaito musicians such as Zola, Mapaputsi, Jakarumba, and M'du," said Molefe.

Last year they performed in Mexico and France, where they reportedly impressed fans of dance music.

"When we performed in Mexico and France the audiences called for more.

"For us that meant that the audience easily connected with our music," said Nkepane.