Before they released their highly anticipated new album, their first in fourteen years, “From Bongo With Love”, Bongo Maffin hosted an intimate listening session at Universal Music Africa (UMA), in Rosebank, Johannesburg, officially marking their return to the music scene.
Compiled by: Thanduxolo “Thandz” Buti
Images by: Katish Digital Media
It’s hard to believe that it’s been fourteen years since Bongo Maffin released their acclaimed album New Construction (2005), as the hit single from the album Kura Uone (Grow Up You Will See) remains on high rotation.
The legendary group ended their excruciating over-a- decade musical hiatus by dropping a 17-track album, their first since their fourth member Speedy rejoined the group after he left in 2000 to pursue a solo career.
Jah Seed (Adrian Anesu Mupemi), Thandiswa Mazwai, Stoan Seate and Speedy (Harold Rangakane) took to the stage and performed new songs from their new album, reminding their die-hard fans of their legendary status.
Founder of Kalawa Jazmee Oscar “Oskido” Mdlongwa, who was instrumental in the formation of the quartet, said the album was difficult to make.
He revealed that Speedy approached the label asking to rejoin Bongo Maffin after they reunited for a Castle Lager commercial in 2017.
“We told him to go and speak to the other members, who we felt were now the custodians of the band, and we are happy they welcomed him back,” said Oskido at the Listening session.
According to the Kwaito veteran the album took two years to make as Kalawa Jazmee no longer had a contract with the band.
He also added that due to the band’s long hiatus the creative process in the studio proved to be difficult but he is proud of the outcome.
“I am also glad that Bongo Maffin decided to give me this gift by dropping this album on my birthday, which is on 29 November,” he concluded.
The group decided to name the album From Bongo with Love as it’s a gift to their fans.
For the album, the group which has always been famous for their eclectic sound which mixes kwaito, afro pop and reggae, enlisted a few young producers like DJ Clap (from Uhuru), along with long-time producer Oskido, resulting in a more modern sound that mixes gqom, amapiano, afro-beats, reggae and soul.
View some of the images from the Bongo Maffin listening session (Images by Katish Digital Media):
After two decades in the industry, and with a string of hits and classics like Thath’iSgubu, Mari Ye Phepha and The Way Kungakhona, it’s safe to say Bongo Maffin does not need a hit single to remind the public of their greatness.
However with the new album they explore current popular sounds, perhaps as a way to appeal to a more younger audience that may have not been born or too young during their years of radio dominance.
But they also still cater to their core fan-base by delivering their popular pan-African lyrics which move swiftly from being social conscious to exploring love and joy.
While their long-time followers might be surprised by the change of sound, when they get the blend right, they deliver beautiful tracks like One Africa (Feat Oskido & DR Moruti, Freedom Fighter, Mafatshe, Champion Sound, Thando Lwam, Bob Marley, Penyu (Life), Mama Winnie, Harare and Vuma.
Will this album resonate with the masses, especially with amapiano dominating the airwaves? I don’t know.
However it might serve as a special offering to those who have followed the band’s career, whether together or in their solo endeavors.
From Bongo With Love is available on all leading digital platforms and at selected music stores.