Skeleton - Skeleton in Johannesburg
World Music


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Maskanda from the township of Umlazi in Durban, South Africa. Produced and recorded by Juno Reactor's Ben Watkins in 1995 during his residence at the seconf Outernational Meltdown sessions in Johannesburg. The album features sessions by Busi Mhlongo, Jessica Lauren, Lungiswa, Max Laesser and Pops Mohamed.

Recorded end of 1995 at Downtown Studios in Johannesburg during the second Outernational Meltdown recordings by M.E.L.T. 20000. It was during these sessions when Ben Watkins discovered the talents of Mabi Thobejane and members of Amampondo which consequently led to the first tour of Juno Reactor with African musicians. Juno Reactor toured the USA with Moby at that point. Skeleton are a Durban (Zulu) based maskanda group and for the first time in the long history of this very traditional form of rap presented almost exclusively by male, have stomping techno flavored beats put a new twist to it. Ben Watkinks's production skills are immaculate and his range of musical taste allows for working with always new and experimental flavors.

When originally recorded Skeleton was a four-piece Maskanda band from Zululand featuring: Themba "Ncane" Ngubane, born December 23, 1957, in Greytown, lead singer and drums; the late"Skeleton" Musa Ngubane, born 1960 in Greytown, late lead guitarist; Mangisi Zondo, born 1963 in Bulwer, keyboards and the late Zandile Zuma, born 1972 in Greytown, backing vocals and bass. All members of the band came from the rural towns of Zululand and resided in the sprawling township of Umlazi, south of Durban

Themba Ngubane, a heavyweight boxer and bodyguard, remians the only surviving member having formed a new group since this recording from 1995 consisting mainly of family members. Themba's passion for Zulu music was instilled in him by his late mother and, growing up in Greytown where he was surrounded by people who loved music and were always singing and dancing. In the late '70s, Themba formed a band called Izihlobo (Neighbors) with a group of blind musicians; he being the only sighted one. They proved to be so popular that they their debut album, on the Gallo label in 1980, yielded four number-one hits on Radio Zulu's Ezodumo show. In the late '80s, Themba formed a new band called MShoza, but their development was abruptly arrested when three members were gunned down in the township of Clermont.

After this tragic incident, Themba came very close to giving up on his music, and it was only through the support and counseling of Leonard Gwala from Ndwedwe, north of Durban, that he found the strength to carry on after the loss of his fellows. Gwala taught him that perseverance is the mother of success.

The two other people who have inspired Themba most, in terms of his career, are the late Obed Sishi, the former Radio Zulu DJ, and Professor Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Track Listing (30 Second Samples)

Wonke Lomnhlaba
2 Umuntu Omayama
3 Sekuwuwewudwa
4 Kwa Xhosa
5 Sobabamba
6 Nomithule
7 Uxolo
8 Phumelelo with Busi Mhlongo

9 Intombi
10 Intombazane