South African producer DJ Lag today releases the Uhuru EP — the Gqom trailblazer’s first solo release since being tapped by Beyoncé for production on The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album. Uhuru EP is out now and streaming everywhere via Good Enuff. Artwork, tracklist and more information below.
2. Offi Bee
4. Uhuru Dis (feat. Moonchild Sanelly)
5. Rich Drop
6. Amanikiniki (w/ Unticipated Soundz)
Comprised of 6 new tracks including the Moonchild Sanelly-featuring “Uhuru Dis” and Unticipated Soundz collaboration “Amanikiniki,” DJ Lag explains; “With this EP, I want to bring the world’s attention to where it all started. We called this style of Gqom ‘uThayela,’ which means ‘corrugated iron’ to describe a rougher sound with a harder bassline that it is made for clubs. For me, it all started in UHURU, a small club in my township of Clermont. I played my first gig there, which was probably one of the first times that Gqom was heard by the public.”
History will remember South Africa’s DJ Lag (Lwazi Asanda Gwala) as a pioneer who propelled the quintessentially Durban Gqom sound beyond the confines of club Uhuru, straight into the capitals of the international electronic music industry. DJ Lag’s superb production skills have played a colossal part in transforming this sub-genre of house — one that began by soundtracking taxi trips around Durban and is typified by its minimal and raw sound with heavy, percolating kicks — to an enviably innovative participant in the global scene.
After releasing an unprecedented blend of Gqom and soul with South Africa’s stream-queen Shekhinah, Lag produced “My Power,” a track hand-picked byBeyoncé herself for The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album, where she worked with a string of African trailblazers including Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, and Tiwa Savage (Tierra Whack, Moonchild Sanelly, Nija, and Beyoncé all appear on “My Power” — Beyoncé had previously dropped Lag’s track “Trip To New York” in her hotly anticipated Global Citizen Festival headlining set in Johannesburg this past December, her first time performing South Africa in 15 years). On the same day, July 19th 2019, DJ Lag released the collaborative Steam Rooms EP with Okzharp via Hyperdub — placing him firmly at the vanguard of a new wave of African sounds, transforming World Music into music that moves the world, with one foot firmly rooted in his hometown.
The concept of the Uhuru EP, out today via Diplo’s Good Enuff imprint, came after DJ Lag met him at a club in LA where the two played a back-to-back set, and began to discuss how Gqom came to be. DJ Lag’s Gqom movement began at Uhuru; a club in Durban’s Clermont township where the neighborhood would congregate to sweat out the week’s woes; where today’s Gqom stalwarts, including Rude Boyz and Naked Boyz, honed their sounds in the early stages of its existence. At the time, no one experimenting within Uhuru’s four walls could have predicted Gqom’s spread beyond the streets of Clermont, and yet today DJ Lag stands at the forefront of a culture that is slowly taking over the world, liberating souls one dancefloor at a time on tours that have since circled the globe 4 times over.
A souvenir of DJ Lag’s travels to the US, Uhuru EP opener “Portland” carries the energy of a society up in cultural arms. He would often spend time absorbing the sounds of this city in flux, later translating them into what would become a scintillating track on this EP to commemorate the city’s societal shift. True to Lag form, “Rich Drop” and “Dimoni” are dark, sparse tracks made to inspire anticipation for the next sonic nosedive. The EP also features longtime friend and collaborator Moonchild Sanelly on “Uhuru Dis,” who has made a name for herself worldwide crafting a highly sexualised persona from cuteness, curiosity, courage and consent. Moonchild’s ability to use her music as a vehicle for her message that freedom is found within, makes for a compelling partnership with DJ Lag, who very much considers his hometown to be a point of inspiration rather than a point of departure. Lastly, Unticipated Soundz — an all new Gqom collective due to be signed to Lag’s own label, Ice Drop — delivers an earworm of a track, “Amanikiniki,” embracing a pivotal time in Gqom’s evolution in the style of uThayela. From Durban to Denmark, to Detroit and back again, DJ Lag is making his mark, bringing Gqom to the world and the world back home to Clermont.