South African DJ Brings Traditional African Sounds to the World

LAG is a South African DJ from Durban and he’s making the world listen to Gqom, a reshaped version of Zulu’s traditional music

August 10th, 2016
Giorgio Malvermi, CD News

He uses traditional vocal chants and drum samples, mixes them up altogether and creates a uniquely new music genre. Traditional African music has already in itself the catchy tune and the rhythm necessary to make people dance. LAG, acronym standing for Lwazi Asanda Gwala, adds on some modern flavor with his instruments and brings traditional music, whose origins are hundreds of years old, to the 21st century.

Despite being in his twenties, he’s already considered the grandfather of a new type of music, the Gqom, or drum in the Zulu Language. However, LAG did not associate his musical genre with Gqom at first: “I wasn’t the one who said: what I’m doing is Gqom. People started to call this music Gqom, and I just said: ok, it is Gqom”.

The trend of revitalizing the traditional musical heritage of a country is rapidly becoming more popular throughout the world, and LAG is one of the first African composers ever to mix tribal sounds and modern musical style.

Social media has been a great part of LAG’s success. In fact, he started his career as a teenager, posting his pop tracks on social media. Developing his artistic skills, he also began experimenting: “we started to put vocal sounds, like the chants and percussions, but then we also used animals, like chickens, monkeys… all these sounds together create something raw”.

Nowadays LAG is an incredibly popular South African DJ, and performs mainly live in clubs or concerts. His music, despite being still relatively unknown outside the continent, has just started to be noticed, after a UK company noticed his talent and asked him to perform in an EP video. LAG’s dream is to continue experimenting tradition and modernity, and let the world know that Gqom is not only part of Africa’s past, but also of its future.


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