Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Rudimentals - South African Ska

Imagine this: When "Nelson Mandela" by the Special AKA reached number 9 in the UK singles chart in March 1984, Mandela was still in prison in South Africa, and wasn't to be released until some six years later. It would be four years before the openly racist system of Apartheid was finally ended in April 1994. To be caught with that Special AKA single in your possession by the South African secret police in 1984 meant serious trouble. Not only was the record banned, but so was any release on the 2-Tone label, leading to a virtual ban on all Ska records, a music form that was seen by the then racist regime as "unpleasant multi-racial movement."

Fast forward 24 years and meet The Rudimentals. They are a South African ska band based in Cape Town. They have blended the essential, tried and trusted elements of 2-Tone Ska with rural and urban African music. With roots still firmly planted in the Jamaican dance halls of the 60's, the band have fused ingredients of local cultural music with the familiar back beat of Ska. This contemporary combination makes the music both accessible and fresh. The final product is something brand new: Afro-Ska. Like their 2-Tone forbearers, The Rudimentals music deals with very real and distinctly African issues, ranging from the problems of AIDS, drug abuse, gangsterism and woman and child abuse.

The band released it’s first CD “More Fire” in South Africa, in October 2003 topping the South African Rock Digest charts and their first single, “Gangsta”, enjoyed extensive radio airplay on both national and regional radio stations and also topped the MP3 charts, for most downloaded song. “Gangsta” managed to hold that position for seven consecutive weeks. The hit song “Noh TV” won a National Bronze Stone award for best music video, in that same year. In 2004, they were voted “Best Reggae and Ska Band” in the country, by the nationally read Blunt Magazine.

In 2006 The Rudimentals released the second CD, entitled “Set It Proper”, on Moon Ska Europe. The new CD fuses Ska, Reggae, Dub, Dancehall, Rock, African Mbaquanga and Jazz into what is now truly termed Afro-Ska. The band are regularly touring and headlining National Festivals and are continuing to gain huge positive response to the groundbreaking sound of Afro-Ska. They were the opener for UB4o's tour of South Africa in 2007.

And so it goes that a multiracial ska band, once against the law, now exists and flourishes in South Africa. As Bob Marley sang, "One Good Thing About Music, When It Hits You Feel No Pain."

Here is a short documentary on the band and a few music videos and a live performances of The Rudimentals. You can hear more of their music at their web site and MySpace site.



Noh TV

Radio Skaweto

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