Afro House is a sub-genre of house music that originated mostly in South Africa. Even though it has its own distinctive sound, a fusion of Kwaito, Tribal, Deep House, and Soulful House, people in South Africa frequently classify it as a subgenre of Deep or Soulful House.
A new wave of house producers looked to their African roots for inspiration in the early 1990s. All of this occurred during a period when Deep House and Kwaito were competing to become the music of the streets in post-apartheid South Africa. From its origins in the pubs and clubs of Hillbrow in Johannesburg and Pretoria in the late 1980s, house music in South Africa quickly became a sensation. CD mix compilations sold as many as 250,000 copies.
With the launch of the radio station YFM in 1997, house music became a part of South Africa’s mainstream culture. House Afrika, home of the first South African House CD collection, published a number of mixes by its creators Vinny Da Vinci and Christos. The latter co-founded the famous Kwaito label Kalawa Jazmee, with future house legend Oskido, his “Brothers of Peace” partner. B.O.P. was the first South African house project to reach American DJs. This led to ties with Masters At Work and the 2002 release of the 12-inch single “Zabalaza”.
From the “Tribe” parties in London and Djoon in Paris to “Libation,” and the long-running “The Shelter” party in New York, Afro-house became the dominating sound in clubs during the global development of house music.
Black Coffee is currently the most well-known South African house artist. He produced one of the first notable songs in the style with his first band, Shana. It included the outstanding vocalist Shota, who later had a successful solo career. Black Coffee then collaborated with Tribe recording artist Nathan Adams. They produced “Afraid of the Dark,” the first UK-South African collaboration to have a significant impact.
With ground-breaking albums such as “Bright Forest,” “Dragons End,” and “Zulu Warriors,” Culoe De Song helped create the South African music scene. His ability and potential as a young producer when Innervisions signed him were exceptional, and he has continued to be innovative and experimental. As only Culoe could, he helped introduce the genre to a wider audience.
Characteristics of Afro House
What made Afro House so innovative was the way in which bedroom producers used modern technology to replicate the rhythms of their homeland. Recent years have seen the growth of house music across the African continent, with producers adding their own local rhythms to the mix.
Afro-house is heavily influenced by percussion instruments played in the townships of South Africa. For many years, its polyrhythms were programmed to sound like traditional African instruments such as bongoes, congas, claves, and djembes. Pulsating riffs and piercing hi-hats bring to mind both the past and the future. It’s a sound that is both ancient and futuristic at the same time. Both a beckoning and a reminder. It’s both a trip to faraway lands and home.