Groove Afrika has become one of the most popular names in today’s hip-hop youth culture. This deejaying duo has driven Cape Town’s party scene towards a whole new direction. Kgabo Senyatsi, creator and initial DJ of Groove Afrika, enlightens us on the culture and identity of Groove Afrika.

From a personal view, Groove Afrika has always been something that appealed to a specific youth culture. These parties not only appeal to the black youth, as they are the natural demographic that hip-hop and house music appeals to, but also to the ‘elite’. Those that can afford to stand their ground in the high-class clubs of Green Point and Camps Bay. There is usually a strict dress code and one can always expect to see numerous amounts of students ‘popping bottles’ and basically living the ‘lavish life’.

However it seems that from where the Groove Afrika deejays stand, behind the decks and enjoying their beats, they unfortunately are hidden from what goes on beyond their music and beyond the dance floor. Kgabo has an optimistic view of what his music and events brings to the youth culture: “The whole money thing, that’s exactly what Groove Afrika is completely against. We’re against fakeness…It’s not about flaunting, it’s about quality and good music.” As noble as his vision is, it comes across as a very naïve one. After all, the Groove Afrika parties are named after well-known hip-hop songs, The Motto, Hell Yeah Fuckin’ Right, We Like To Party and Rack City, by international artists such as Drake and Lil Wayne. They unmistakably glamourize money, alcohol, partying and luxury-based lifestyles, so it is hard to think that Groove Afrika’s vision is all that different.  Kgabo contradicts himself by saying simultaneously that as much as “the point of it is not to live up to these guys” they cannot help being influenced by them as these are the “things that appeal to us whether we like it or not”.

The Groove Afrika duo believe that through their music and the type of events they throw they are “truly about rebranding and re-interpreting what it is to be an African today for a young South African”. Through these statements Kgabo is adamant that they cater for a wide market of youth: “a lot of people in the industry racialize music and I don’t think we should do that because there are a lot of white people who come to Groove Afrika parties, and a lot of Indian people and coloured people”. This would be a nice thought, yet at the same time he challenges himself in admitting that “majority (are black) because hip-hop appeals more to black people but that’s more a by-product of hip-hop…That’s what we cater for: people who enjoy hip-hop; people who enjoy house music.” It seems to me that it wouldn’t be a bad thing for Groove Afrika to accept the type of culture that rises from the music and events they produce, as they are very successful in that market.

One thing to admire is that, although they may be slightly disillusioned towards the identity they have created for themselves, Groove Afrika are very passionate about their music and ultimately do want it to be something that appeals to everyone: “I want to make sure that it’s something that anyone can hear and that anyone can say “oh this is good music”. You don’t necessarily have to be a house lover, you don’t have to be South African; you can be from Sweden, you can be from the States…That’s basically what we strive for, honestly giving the best quality of music possible.”

Kgabo ends off the interview with a rather inspirational statement about how he hopes to change the culture of the youth today: “beyond the music and all the fun times, there’s a serious undertone. With all our parties, yes it’s fun, but there’s a lot more happening than just partying. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.” I suppose, the only thing we can do is wait and see where Groove Afrika get to from here. To see whether they really are serious about “re-branding” the South African youth identity by “trying to teach people to have fun in a more conscious manner – you can still have pure clean fun in a way that is very true and respectable”, or whether they will just have to accept that they are successful just the way it is, and this elite black culture is here to stay.

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