Limited edition of 300 copies worldwide. In Germany only availble at HHV as part of the 2023 Summer of Jazz campaign, focused on South-African jazz.
Ubuntu Soundz arrives! With a strong following built through regular DJ sessions in South-East London, Craig C. Tamlin and Thulani Shuku launch Ubuntu Soundz – a new label specialising in dancefloor sounds from South Africa and beyond, released on vinyl. The label’s inaugural 7” release salvages two ultra rare, crowd-pleasing cuts produced by South African saxophonist Ratau Mike Makhalemele – ‘Dipapadi (Rapper’s Delight)’, a bumping seSotho cover of the Sugarhill Gang’s universal hit, credited to the studio alias Tutu Gugu; and ‘Shakare’, a funked-up version of Fela Kuti’s immortal afrobeat tune ‘Shakara’. Long-forgotten and impossible to find, both singles were first issued in 1980 – neither has ever been re-released until now. Pure dancefloor fire! Ratau Mike Makhalemele was one of South Africa’s tenor greats. By the time of his death in 2000 at the age of 58, he had racked up countless session credits over three decades in the industry, and had over a dozen solo albums to his name. He had played in backing bands for touring stars including Curtis Mayfield, Champion Jack Dupree and Joe Henderson, and appeared (uncredited) on Paul Simon’s Graceland; he had even turned down offers from Henderson and Chick Corea to record in the US, preferring to remain at home in Soweto. But while his principle discipline was jazz, Makhalemele also had a strong studio production side hustle. From 1975, he worked as a producer and session musician at the independent Satbel Studios, at that time South Africa’s premier studio for pop, disco and jazz fusion sounds. By the end of the decade he was experimenting with disco/funk on his own jazz recordings, and in 1980 he released the two funky singles that contribute to this release: ‘Shakare’, for which he went by the name Shakare, and ‘Dipapadi’ released under the pseudonym Tutu Gugu. ‘Shakare’ remakes Fela Ransome Kuti’s huge afrobeat tune ‘Shakara’. One of Fela’s biggest hits of the early 1970s, ‘Shakara’ had been released on single in Nigeria, Kenya, Zaire, Peru, Colombia, the US and various European countries. A South African issue for the original song did not appear until 1981 – but Makhalemele knew a hit when he saw one, and in 1980 he remade Fela’s original as a motoring disco floor-filler. ‘Dipapadi (Rappers Delight)’ covers the Sugarhill Gang’s universal hit, which reached no.3 in the South Africa charts in 1980. Makhalemele turns in a tightly styled cover of the immortal Chic backbeat, but he also made a crucial innovation – he performed his rap in seSotho, not English. This almost certainly makes ‘Dipapadi’ the very first rap record ever recorded in an indigenous African language, and transforms the song into much more than a local cover of a worldwide hit. The hip-hop message had arrived in Africa, and Mike Makhalemele was the herald for a whole continent. Ubuntu Soundz presents these lost gems back-to-back on 7” single, housed in a full colour sleeve designed by Kelly Gregory, with vibrant artwork by Vivian Kohler and detailed sleevenotes by Francis Gooding. Two essential slices of Mzansi funk, kicking off the South African Session!