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Monday, Nov 25 2013 | 12:29
Image: 1585088 South African singer, politican and humanitarian Penny Penny’s 1994 debut recording Shaka Bundu will be issued for the first time worldwide by Awesome Tapes From Africa on November 12. In anticipation of the release, FACT calls the record, “A seriously enjoyable gem...think Inner City with some added springbok flavour.” The song “Shichangani” is now available for free download here.

Penny Penny was a janitor at a record label, where he was squatting at night, when he met legendary Tsonga disco producer Joe Shirimani and talked his way into making a demo. When Shirimani convinced the label to let him do a record with Penny, Shaka Bundu became a surprise hit, selling more than 250,000 copies. Released 6 months after Apartheid was lifted, Shaka Bundu swept the nation and launched the often-dismissed Shangaan disco music movement into mainstream exposure.

Penny Penny’s musical style is informed by Tsonga traditional dances which he had learned over the years, including muchongolo, xichayichayi and xigubu. He was deeply influenced by Michael Jackson's moves and MC Hammer’s music. They combined traditional Tsonga music sensiblities with global dancefloor influences—house, techno and hip-hop—using an Atari computer, Korg M1 synthesizer and reel-to-reel tape for vocals. Shirimani focused on creating a singular bass sound during these sessions. With Shirimani at the production helm, Penny’s slow house music simultaneously resonated with Tsonga music listeners—the heavy, driving bass and husky, rap-like vocals—and listeners beyond South Africa’s borders.

In the years since, Penny Penny has played to thousands on stages across the continent, from Liberia and Sierra Leone to Namibia and Mozambique. He has since gone on to successful a career as a regional politician in Nelson Mandela's African National Congress party.

Penny Penny’s Shaka Bundu will be available on CD, LP, digital download and limited edition cassette.

Available from 08.11.2013
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