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Baker's Dozen

Beat Codes: Spoek Mathambo's Favourite Albums
Lior Phillips , August 30th, 2017 12:23

Spoek Mathambo gives Lior Phillips a tour of his record collection, crossing continents between the music of his South African homeland, American rap, and British new wave


Phuzekhemisi - Impimpi
I first heard this album when I was a little kid, going to school. The title track, 'Impimpi', would play on the radio and was quite a controversial song. It was a dude on an assembly line complaining about his foreman who is always snitching to the boss and saying they're not working. "Who told you that you're the boss, you're just a snitch." I listened to that in the car with my mum and it was actually our private joke. The song's about a snitch, so whenever there would be a snitch amongst us, she would sing a little bit of that lyric. He basically says, "Who told you that you're the boss?" That's actually the direct translation of his first line. As a little kid, I always thought that was funny, but it's also quite a workers' rights song, and as I've grown up I've really taken it as sticking it to the man. I hadn't heard the whole album until I was much older, when I streamed it in the last few years. I love Phuzekhemisi, his intensity, his energy. He's got one song where he's talking about someone who killed his dog. The way he describes it, it sounds like someone beat up his dog, kicked it and ended up killing it. He just sounds so hurt; those emotions are usually for love songs, but it's quite realistic. [laughs] It sounds like a ridiculous thing, but he conveys it with a real emotion that brings a lot of gravity. My favorite song, because of the beat, is one where he talks about voting in South Africa. He got up and he voted in 1994 but nothing has changed for him. That and 'Impimpi' are probably my favorite songs because of the beats. They're kind of dance songs, folky but with a real beat.