The global rise of afro house music | DW Documentary

Afro house is here to conquer and to stay. And its growing global network of musicians proves it. The international music documentary produced by Rise traces the origins of afro house and explores its promising present and future. All across Africa, accomplished DJs are taking the continent by storm and inspiring international artists to venture into the world of afro house. They only need three things to make a club hit: talent, headphones, and a laptop.

In South Africa, electronic dance music is pop music. Afro house is everywhere – it resounds through clubs, cabs, barbershops and homes. Influenced by US house music from the 80s and 90s, it was here that afro house was born and developed from a wild mix of countless subcultures and musical styles. Its rhythm and melodies mirrored the early dream of freedom and hope shared by South Africans at the end of apartheid. Now its viral hitmakers continue to capture the imagination and hearts of music enthusiasts around the world. They spark collaboration across borders as well as the confidence to use whatever you have at your disposal to draw a crowd.

DJ Shimza, one of South Africa’s brightest talents and self-proclaimed “township boy with big dreams,” is a prime example of that. He has performed at some of the world’s most renowned electronic music events and clubs and even made President Obama’s summer 2020 playlist. But the self-made DJ, entrepreneur and producer cares about more than international accolades. Having grown up in Tembisa township, he is determined to make a positive impact on his community and pave the way for others to follow in his footsteps.

It is precisely this kind of community spirit and independent vigor that is enabling more and more African artists to make a name for themselves with afro house tunes. The music they play is as varied as Africa’s nations, tribes, languages - and sounds. In Angola, it is the up-tempo and energetic kuduro music that predominantly shaped the sound of afro house. Here, music and dance trends go hand in hand. DJ collective Midi Minds Kenya creates signature sounds by mixing electronic music with the voices of indigenous peoples. Their music not only evokes their country’s heritage, it preserves it.

But while afro house is firmly woven into the fabric of everyday life in Africa and has long left its mark on global mainstream music, it is often not given its due credit in the rest of the world. To change this, German DJ collective and music label RISE invites the finest afro house DJs to the heart of Berlin’s electronic dance music scene - enabling their audience to reconnect with house music's Black roots.

Featuring house music legends Osunlade, Louie and Anané Vega and German star DJ Henrik Schwarz, the 60-minute music documentary traces the origins of afro house and takes its viewers on a journey across continents. From South Africa to Germany, from Angola to Portugal, from Kenya to the USA and beyond: “Above and beyond - The global rise of afro house” showcases key players of the afro house music scene and looks at the many challenges left ahead on its way to the world stage.

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