Joburg based publicist and shoe designer Maria McCloy has long been involved in the music industry as a journalist, TV producer, label co-owner and now publicist for artists and festivals. In normal times on weekends she could also usually be found behind the decks at some of the city's coolest parties, playing an eclectic, Afro-centric mix of music.
We asked Maria to share with us a playlist of inspiring and uplifting tracks to get us through the 21-day lockdown and beyond. These are her recommendations, all inspired by 'The Rona'.
Follow Maria on instagram here.
Nakhane - You Will Not Die
Nakhane is my friend and he's my client, at one point he was my neighbour here on the Yeoville hill. I watched him go from small gigs in town, Braam and Melville to a Black Coffee smash hit, release a novel, become a movie star in Inxeba and then move across the seas to London where his international career is flourishing. I can’t believe he actually did it, a full-blown global star for real! Anyway this song reminds us that You Will Not Die, if you behave as our President has told us to over Corona.
Ho Lokile - The Village Pope
This was my late father's favourite phrase. He also loved this hymn in Church. I miss him so much. This song touches me because it said everything will be alright at a time when I really, really needed it to be. It is sung here by The Village Pope, Tshepo Tshola, my homeland Lesotho's most prominent musical export since his days in Sankomota. What a legend. Everything will be alright. I hope. We pray God and The Ancestors watch over us and guide us through this unprecedented health crisis that highlights so much of what is unfair in this world.
Ngafa - Shwi Nomtekhala
This maskandi jam is a classic. I thought it sounded like a Zulu ‘Let’s Get It On’ on a romantic reminiscence tip so was rather shocked when I asked one of my besties Noksangoma ( Nokulinda Mkhize) for a translation and she said it was about death! Godamn! So yah, please take care, don’t be dumb and don’t die.
Noksangoma will be doing some virtual talks during the lockdown, the first is on March 29. You can book by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, check her insta for info and to find out how to do a skype consultation.
Thandiswa - Zabalaza
She has been my friend since I interviewed her in Bongo Maffin when we were 21 in 1997, and I do her publicity these days, but still, every time I see her live, I marvel in the fact that we live on the same earth and breath the same air as Thandiswa Mazwai. She is funny, freaky and super fly; she is smart and sassy and her superpower is capturing the historical heartbreaks and current aspirations of the nation with her goosebump-inducing performances. The struggle never ended, it was reconfigured, and today we struggle even more in these Corona circumstances and need to demand better of our governments. So Zabalaza is a perfect part of a soundtrack to today.
Miriam Makeba - Aluta Continua
Mama Africa composed this song back in the day, it speaks of liberation movements throughout Africa, noting that freedom has arrived in many places, yet the struggle continues. Currently as Africans we face Corona disasters as a result of hundreds of years of colonialism and apartheid, partnered with inefficient and corrupt ‘rulers’ now, so sadly, the struggle, does, continue. But, as we have shown, we are resilient, resourceful and strong.
Brenda Fassie - Black President
Man Joburg’s streets will never be as interesting as the times when Ma Brr walked them! She sang this song about Madiba. But I think The Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Cyril Ramaphosa have done such a good job of being calm, clever statesmen, showing the world African excellence, and giving us some hope and reassurance, that perhaps if she was still here, she’d have sung it to them at the bash we are gonna have to celebrate the end of this virus. Then she’d sing Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu - People are people because of people.
Busi Mhlongo - Yehlisan Umoya Ma-Afrika
Busi Mhlongo’s 90’s release Urban Zulu can only be described as a masterpiece, the perfect fusion of ancient and modern, Globalness and pan Africanness. Along with Makeba and Mbulu, Mhlongo provided a blueprint for the likes of Simphiwe Dana and Thandiswa today. I miss the days where you could just go to The Bassline and watch her perform, wow! The outfits!! The charisma!! The transcendental joyful state she and the crowd were in. It’s sad she died, but what a legacy. This song encourages us not to be hotheads and to calm down. Which is good advice in terms of what we now face.
Hugh Masekela - Don’t Go Lose It Baby
It’s still a strange idea that Bra Hugh is gone. What an amazing man and we are so lucky to have his catalogue. He was always so kind, encouraging and funny to be around. He was such a pioneer til the day he died, I mean in this song he is on an electro-rap tip, in the 80’s! Have you read his biography Still Grazing? you have got time now! So you should. So yah, in these uncertain times it’s easy to loose it, don’t!
Hugh Masekela and Tony Allen also have a new album of unreleased vintage gems called Rejoice.
Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa
Afrobeats is huge all over the world, this interest in Africa did not happen overnight, it began long ago when the likes of Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Angelique Kidjo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Manu Dibango of Cameroon were huge stars all over Africa and The Globe in the 60’s 70’s, 80's and 90’s with their distinctly African flavours. Michael Jackson and Rihanna sampled Manu Dibango and it’s the perfect time to pay tribute to the 86 year old frequent visitor to SA stages, who sadly just died of Corona.
Arlus Mabele - Asta Di
Congolese music, soukous, rumba, ndombolo, kwassa kwassa has been so influential in Africa and The World. SA has a significant Congolese community, especially where I live, in the continentally colourful Yeoville. Arlus Mabele from Congo-Brazzaville was dubbed The King Of Soukous and sold 10 million records, imagine that! He too sadly just died, it is said as a result of Corona complications.
Mandoza - Respect Life
We were used to those Mandoza and Chiskop jams that sent you to the dancefloor, it was always clear he was a b-boy hip hop head without the platform to be that, a guy who loved DMX in particular. Mandoza’s turn on the Yizo Yizo TV show soundtrack in 2004 showed a pensive side more on a hip hop tip than his other work, it was just as potent, demanding that we respect life…wish we need to, at this point right…
Lous and The Yakuza - Tout est gore
Of Rwandan and Congolese heritage and now based in Belgium, I think Lous and The Yakuza’s take on trap & neo R&B is rather fresh. And I just love her look. My French is non-existant so I found a quote of hers explaining the song “ “Tout est gore” is when it is so bloody that it becomes funny. “Tout est gore” is about living in the fast lane. Being extra in everything you do. Like life has been an extra bitch to you so many times. Laugh at it and live faster. Twerk stronger. Because this has been your sole way to exorcize your pain since forever.”
H20 - It’s Wonderful
I miss the days when local hip hop sounded, well, local. That was way doper than tryina' be on a trap tip that’s just copycatting Americans and embarrasing. Anyway, my friends Kutloano Skosana and Dzino and I once had an urban culture-focused media company called Black Rage Productions and that encompassed the first ever full-on SA hip hop label which was primarily helmed by Dzino - one of his many signings aside from Reason, Proverb and Zubz were H20 who were pioneers in vernac rap. This 2003 track bigs up the local creative scene, samples Ella Fitzgerald and reminds us that we can make something from nothing and that it’s actually wonderful to be alive.
Burna Boy - On The Low
We are in lockdown so you best keep all you do on the low til we get the all clear to leave. I love Afrobeats (and kwaito and amapiano), anyone who comes to hear me play every last Wednesday of the month at Kitcheners in Braam knows this. Burna Boy is the award-winning king of the genre and a massive superstar who tours the world. Say what you want about him and his tempestuous tongue, put on a Burna song and everyone dances.
Mr Eazi - Pour Me Water
All Ghana’s Mr Eazi touches turns into chart gold don’t you think? I appreciated getting to see him perform hit after hit at Bassline Fest at Constitution Hill last year. I can’t wait until this crisis is over and we can go to festivals like Basha Uhuru again. Anyway, as you know you need to eat right and pour yourself lots of water all the time to combat this virus.
Mafikizolo - Nisixoshelani
Why are you chasing us away whilst the party is still nice? Cause there’s Corona. If you are busted partying in a group instead of being in lockdown at home, the police will shut you down and we know that will not be fun. It does indeed feel like the Sophiatown era of booze prohibitions that inspired the bulk of Mafikizolo’s look and sound, but hey we do what we must to stay alive.
Boom Shaka - Lerato
Let these delightful kwaito pioneers, headed by the much-missed legendary lioness Lebo Mathosa, remind you that Love is what matters most right now. We need to look out for each other and support each other now more than ever. P.S Thembi Seete you look amazingggg on the cover of Women’s Health!
Kabza De Small and Maphorisa - Nana Thula
Us in the arts industry are crying about how all layers of what we do have been killed by Corona - no more exhibitions, no poetry, no book readings, no more conferences, no more clubbing, concerts and comedy shows. Shops selling local designers like Africa Rise in Sandton where I and 19 other top local designers stock, are closed and sound men, stage hands, gear companies, DJs, singers, musicians, poets, actors, make up artists, stylists, and TV producers and promoters, as well as publicists like me, are feeling freaked out and fucked. We have no salary and rely on the gig economy. Yet the world turns at times like these to our content for comfort but still have no sense of our worth and contribution to society. So we want to cry. So like Kabza and Maphorisa say, baby don’t cry. I’m sure we will figure a way forward, we hope this way is a meaningful government and corporate security net to cover the gaps where performance is impossible.
Scorpion Kings - Phakathi Inside
Why are you like this mara! It was hard to get y'all away from bars, grooves, restaurants and beachfronts!! Then the president had to lock yo asses down. Guys, stay away from people as much as possible and remain Phakathi Inside. Besides, New York veteran DJ DNice set a precedent with his corona quarantine parties on insta and The Scorpion Kings, DJ Zinhle, PH and Shimza broke new partying online ground with their Facebook quarantine party, so yes, we can have fun inside. I am trying to make my friends like Coco Loves Danger of The Pussy Party, Akio, Just Themba and Kenzhero do virtual parties too, I hope I convince them.
When this is all over The Scorpion Kings live show will happen 9 August at Sun Arena.
Monate Mpolaye - DJ Sumbody Ft Cassper Nyovest
If you don’t obey lockdown rules over corona, just like condomless sex, monate mpolaye. Good times will kill you.