The Greedy Weekend #003: AfroBeyond

Welcome to the third edition of The Greedy Weekend! What is the Greedy Weekend you might ask? Well, it's a new column where we discuss and review some of the weekend events, that we would've attended. It really should've been a podcast but you know web hosting is way cheaper than microphones. So here we are with our round-up of the weekend of 2 December!

The Greedy Weekend #003: AfroBeyond

If music is said to be a language, then Afro-House music is surely Latin. Not to say that it came first, which it probably did because Africa is the cradle of mankind after all, but Afro House's universal applicability to the language of music is because of its existence at a confluence of almost all other genres. Afro House brings together a union of sound and in the right hands, it can be transcendent, which it was on Saturday night.

AfroBeyond is certainly an event worthy of its name. This is not simply in its appreciation of Afro House going beyond Africa, but how as an experience it goes beyond the music. My ears are still buzzing and I feel like a second level of consciousness that lies dormant on all other days, was awakened within me on Saturday.

Skug Barn was a place of worship, with BamBam Madame, Halu!, Samuel Cosmic and Ryan Synth as the anointed stewards who led us in prayer. The church drums were synth and heavy bass lines, while the hymns ranged from Amapiano to Zimdancehall. 

Not to leave out the supporting acts in Lennox The Poet and Tahle We Dzinza who held their own, but the night belonged to House music. BamBam Madame got us on the right path with a set that was Electro-House rich and had the crowd marinaded just right for the faceless DJ, Halu! Now on another night I probably would be raving about BamBam Madame's curation of sound and how by the end they had everyone pumped, but their valiant efforts were simply outdone by the acts that came next.

There wasn't an MC on the mic but every set spoke its own language and the crowd responded as if in sync. Afro Tech dominated the night but there was certainly something for those who are not in favour of the oontz oontz. Reverb7 is certainly good at his craft but things that Halu! does, you wouldn't believe they're the same. He's a little like our Zimbabwean Sasha Fierce (I know the BeyHive gets the reference).

Zimdancehall and Afro Tech collided as he gave us a Dance remix of Uncle Epatan's Bata. You would not believe the texture of sound when the beat drop came on this. Halu! took us on a bit of a nostalgic journey, as he gave us Prince Kaybee's "Gugulethu" which was followed a while later by DJ Clock & Beatenburg's "Pluto" (Remember You). Mugabe would've been turning in his grave at how loud we sang to a track by a group of white men. 

Halu!'s crowning moment for me, however, was when he played  "Mwana" his collaboration with Ulethu. The moment simply stuck with me. Permanently etched in my mind, because what a song, and in that moment too what a vibe.

Samuel Cosmic simply picked up from where Halu was! left. True to his name he had us spinning in a cosmos of African music. He gave us Afrobeats with Yemi Alade's "Johnny", Gqom with "iPlan" and Amapiano with "Abalele". I have to take a moment here to appreciate (for the umpteenth time) what Ami Faku, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small did when they created that song. A timeless classic and Samuel Cosmic handled it with the deft touch it deserved.

His set was emotive, that's if you can call it a set of Dance music, because he certainly moved us, and not just in the motion of our bodies but the way we felt. When he gave us a listen to "Twana Twaka", his upcoming single set for release in March, that was certainly special. March definitely feels like it's too far away.

Ryan Synth made his entrance with Funky Qla, Zaba, Kususa and Argento Dust's "Uyingozi". A banger of note (Although I didn't know of that at the time). Now I simply have to take a moment here to thank Ryan Synth's uncle for introducing him to vinyl records at the age of 10, ensuring that he would fall in love with music, because what a set we got to experience.

If Midas had been a Zimbabwean who spun records, I imagine he would've sounded a little like Ryan Synth at AfroBeyond. The set was made up of almost nothing else besides Ryan Synth's original remixes. The ears fell in love with sounds, Shazam said couldn't be found. The beat matching, the scribbling and the track selection, clearly made him a part.

In particular, there was a remix of Thomas Mapfumo's "Nyoka Musango" that would've made even the Chimurenga music stalwart feel proud. Yet there couldn't have been a better climax than the moment he went from "iPlan" into "Gorah". 

Although not in attendance Nitefreak was certainly having his moment with his latest release (with Emmanuel Jal). "Gorah" was played 3 times and 3 different ways (Not forgetting his "Premier Gaou" remix that also got a spin to just as much fanfare), with the energy inside Skug Barn only getting higher each time. If Zimbabwe had a Boiler Room, AfroBeyond would be it. A near-perfect event.

Me being the critic that I am though, I would have to decry just a few things. Firstly the lack of disability access (bars just need to catch on it's almost 2024 ffs). Secondly, it is longer than the Israelites marched through the desert to get your order from the bar. Lastly, I would've loved to hear the DJs spin more House music from Zimbabwean artists, the likes of Shona SA, Junior Simba, and TAPIWA... Then again maybe I'm just being pedantic.

"Resolution Revolution" was the theme of AfroBeyond's last chapter for this year and it might certainly have ignited an Afro House revolution. The next edition might need a bigger venue. If Harare didn't love Ryan Synth before, the city well and truly loves him now.

Greedysouth: 8.2/10

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