This week, South Africa's Major League DJz dropped a video for "Slyza Tsotsi," a sly, infectious jam featuring Cassper Nyovest, Okmalumkoolkat, Ricky Rik, and Carpo that has been bubbling in South Africa and beyond since it was released in January. The song's fuzzy bassline, off-kilter house-derived percussion, and cheeky multilingual lyrics are typical of "new age kwaito," the kwaito/hip-hop fusion genre being propelled by Major League, a pair of twins from Johannesburg's Alexandra township.
The track, whose refrain roughly translates to "go away, thief," is an unassailable dancefloor tune starring some of South Africa's most promising artists, but its going viral has in large part been due to a marketing maneuver not unlike the one that elevated Pharrell's "Happy" from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack to the biggest hit of 2014: fans have amplified its popularity through homemade videos frenetically disseminated online. At the behest of Major League, and jumpstarted by a video posted by rapper Cassper, the #slyzatsotsi hashtag blew up across social media, with fans uploading clips of themselves doing versions of local pantsula or kasi dances to "Slyza Tsotsi." Eventually, even South African celebrities, like the actors Khanyi Mbaui and Jessica Nkosi, added to the fray with their own videos.
Since kwaito's '90s genesis in the margins of Jozi (and subsequent rippling outwards via transnational African media platforms), the style and its associated subgenres have produced global stars like M'du, TKZee, DJ Cleo, and DJ Mujava. Over the years, it has solidly taken its place as a flashpoint of South African youth culture, so much so that it's allegedly being co-opted by brands and advertisers looking to connect with younger audiences. Earlier this year, the sports channel Super Sport 4 used the phrase "Slyza Tsotsi" in a campaign, a move that Major League DJz and Cassper described as both vulture-like and yet another testament to the appeal of new age kwaito as a galvanizing cultural prospect.
Watch some of the best fan videos below, including this dude hopping out of a suitcase.