Back in 2009 only the first shockwaves of what was going on down in South Africa had been felt here in the United States. I don’t remember what it was that drew me to DJ Qness, but old copies of 5 Mag in print remind me that I reviewed four or five of his records that year. I don’t think any of them were sent by promo, and that was when I first came to the shocking realization that something in the industry had changed. Writing about music had gotten fucky, really fucky: most people didn’t write about the industry, they wrote about what’s in their gmail inbox – not records they found or played but the records people sent them, which were quite often not the same thing. (This hasn’t really improved – now they don’t even really write about records, other than a couple of sentences cribbed from what the label says about itself.)
Which I bring up now, to ask the question: would anyone in Chicago or Los Angeles or New York ID a DJ Qness if the whole thing happened again but in 2018 rather than 2008? I’d like to think so, but there is still a gigantic reservoir of great music and talented producers in southern Africa today and I don’t think they find it very easy to throw down roots outside of their respective countries.
The title track for Chants of the Panther shows that Qness’ fondness for out-of-element percussion has only grown more passionate. The vibes give this a strangely dark, well, vibe: Qness sets the mood with a track that feels like something vaguely dangerous. “Mama We” creates a tense but warmer atmosphere with the hypnotic vocals and chants of Nomalungelo Dladla and a big fat bass that holds the whole thing together.
DJ Qness: Chants of the Panther / Ocha Mzansi
1. DJ Qness: Mama We (5:56)
2. DJ Qness: Chants of the Panther (6:35)
3. DJ Qness: Bambelela (7:33)