Angolan house music pops off in Mozambique
Ghana-based Benjamin Lebrave speaks fluent French and English, and can schmooze in Spanish and Portuguese. He’ll report on new African music every other week. This week, he meets Mozambique's Acizzy & Squeeze.
Diagonally across the continent from where I live sits a costal country I am dying to visit. Hearing the name alone gets me drooling: Mozambique. I plan on going there in a couple of months, and have been trying to get my hands on as much music as I can in the meantime. What I am most curious about are pandza and marrabenta, two Moçambicano genres with unmistakably lazy coastal rhythms.
But what caught my attention for today is a duo called Acizzy & Squeeze. I remember a few weeks ago, as I DJed at Republic here in Accra, I had one of my numerous "what the eff do I play next?" moments, when I stumbled across a song in my library by Acizzy & Squeeze. Based on the names and the first loops, I assumed it was some kind of warehouse type UK funky stuff. Not just me: my partner in crime, DJ Sanse—a guy addicted to London's Rinse FM who squeals unhappily anytime I play zouk—immediately asked me to share the track with him.
The next morning I double-checked where I got the song from, and to my surprise, the duo is based in Maputo, Mozambique. Their city is only a few hours by car from Johannesburg, a hardly ignorable musical powerhouse that has been blasting house music across the land, so it's no surprise that South African house has made its mark in Mozambique. Angola is also nearby: as I mentioned in past columns, house music has taken over the Mwangolé sound. Add to that a robust economy, and a strong will to push Angolan music and culture, and you find Luanda's nightlife sound thriving in Maputo.
Download: Acizzy f. DJ Cubic, "Digital World (Crazy Drum)"
As is often the case, a nation's sudden interest in another's music doesn't immediately translate into much exposure for local artists experimenting with the same style: it took Angolan house beatmakers a few years to make a dent in the music industry there, and it seems Mozambican house producers are not quite there yet. "I feel my work is more supported outside Mozambique," Acizzy tells me. "I get a lot of good feedback from South Africa and Angola."
His love affair with house music started in 2007, when he managed to get his hands on the usual suspect, FruityLoops. "A few years later I decided to DJ also, because I've always had this passion, and also so I could play my own music and notice how the public reacts," he says. "[Through] my music I met a lot of DJs and producers from Mozambique, South Africa, Angola and Botswana especially, then came invitations for collabos, EP releases. My music started playing more often on our local radio, I got invitations to submit my mixes so they could go on air on the radio."
Acizzy drops the magic keyword midway through our conversation: Congolese music. Specifically, he tells me: "What influences me the most is Congolese tribal music and African tribal music, because I love the sound of the drums and as I listen to it I imagine those tribal songs in a house beat and it just sounds perfect how well the drums fit on it."
Future plans for Acizzy & Squeeze include creating a record label to help Mozambique's local talent get the proper exposure. That and more collaborations (I heard rumors of a song with Maskarado…), and of course continuing to feed us all with Moz dopeness on their SoundCloud page.