Phelimuncasi are the project which includes vocalist twins Makan Nana and Khera and Malathon. They formed in 2012 in the Mlaszi township of Durban South Africa, using Gqom as a vehicle for theatrical storytelling and social commentary. In their own words, “We wanted to make people dance of course, but we also wanted to make music that enchanted or poisoned our audience. We wanted people who hear our music to stop what they were doing.”
Debut album is called Phelimuncasi: 2013- 2019 and it is out now via Nyege Nyege Tapes. You can check the full streaming of the album via Bandcamp. Watch the official video for the track “Private Party“.
Phelimuncasi’s music definitely enchants. Imbued with an immense storytelling tradition that harks back to South African Toyi Toyi protest, where singing was often used for intimidating the South African police and security forces during anti-apartheid demonstrations and, more recently, to express grievances against government policies and anti-privatization struggles.
To this day Phelimuncasi continue to be called upon to perform at political functions and rallies for the African National Congress and South African left wing Pan Africanist political party EFF (Economic Freedom Fighter). The album spans over half a decade of music, starting in 2012 with productions by DJ Scoturn and DJ MP3 to 2019 where they started to work one of the most exciting new Durban producers, Menzi, whose dark textures and cyberpunk moods match Phelimuncasi’s lyrical intensity.
But what establishes this album as a major work of contemporary South African underground music is Phelimuncasi’s spiraling mantra like call and response lyrics, echoing the hardships of Durban as well as the street sharpness and grit that gives their music true vibrancy. Performed largely in their local isiZulu language their wordplay is musical and evocative, a spell-grounded cosmology, merging into a unique sound that remains deadly on the dance floor.