Punk rock, despite its northern hemisphere origins, has a lot in common with the African creative philosophy: its do-it-yourself, community-based collaborative culture, outspoken social consciousness and youthful exuberance. Even at its most elemental level, the music itself, it can be argued, has a very African aesthetic: raw and rhythmic, yet deceptively complex.
It’s no surprise then, that there has been a growing trend of punk music coming out of the continent, challenging the status quo of traditional genres such as jazz and indigenous music.
While most of this young emerging talent remains untapped in garages and practice rooms from Cape Town to Cairo, there have been a few breakout bands that are making waves with good old fashioned punk rock, thanks in part to internet platforms such as music website Bandcamp and video channel YouTube.
— CD Anderson (@bizarrojerri) July 13, 2016
This Soweto band embodies everything that is real punk: short, brutal songs with in-your-face lyrics, all performed with an urgency and aggression that harks back to the genesis of the New York punk explosion in the 1970s. The OkayAfrica pop culture website says the band is “true to their spirit. They don’t surrender, they don’t compromise and that’s their beauty.”
They also sing about giving their grandmothers Tupperware. TCIYF have yet to release a full album, but their YouTube channel is a popular starting off point for fans of the Ramones, New York Dolls and Sex Pistols.
Mozambique’s Mona sing socially conscious but uplifting pop punk in English and Portuguese. They have a huge youth following despite the relatively small rock music scene in Mozambique’s urban areas. The band even run their own music label, giving other up and-coming bands from the region exposure through online social media and video channels.
Formed in 2013 in Harare, Zimbabwe, Chikwata mix bubbly ska-punk rhythms with traditional folk, jazz and even hip-hop elements, calling it “mbira punk”. Their irreverent sound mixes languages and genres to create idiosyncratic but energetic live performances, both in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Their debut album, Chauya, is available to buy on their website.
With a more alternative, post-punk feel, Crystal Axis have been around since 2009 and have become an underground cult hit among young Kenyans. The band are currently on hiatus, but their debut EP is still available on their Bandcamp site, offering dark and spirited choruses and proficient musicianship.
The band embodies a true punk DIY spirit, making and selling their own merchandise, music videos and communicating directly with their fans.
The Brother Moves On
While considered more of a performance art-funk-maskandi-pop band, the philosophy of The Brother Moves On is very much punk rock, with lyrics full of politically charged vitriol and honest social commentary.
Their musically sophisticated and enthusiastic live performances are iconic in South Africa’s underground live music scene, and they have performed to critical acclaim at festivals such as Oppikoppi and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The band hope to tour Europe in 2016-17.
Source: OkayAfrica, Bandcamp
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