After many years, kwaito kings Trompies are back with a new album. And it may just be their last. Therese Owen met up with the crazy chaos that’s been 20 years in the making.
MJOKES, Spikiri, Donald Duck, Mahoota and Jairus are in The Star photographic studio for a shoot. The five Trompies guys are dressed in their finest pantsula outfits.
As I begin to tell them what I want for the shoot, Mahoota interrupts: “Woah, Therese, just let us do our thing. We know how.”
Okay, okay. I back down because I trust them implicitly. And, wow, do they come to the party. As photo-grapher Matthews Baloyi clicks away, they leap into poses and it is like watching a silent Trompies gig. The chemistry between them shows why they formed the group over 20 years ago when they were still so young. It also shows why they are still together.
My mind goes back to the last time I saw them perform, which was at the Durban July weekend when Kalawa Jazmee were celebrating their 20th anniversary. The whole stable was there, from Black Motion to Oskido to Uhuru and Mafikizolo. They are all accomplished live performers, but it was Trompies who stole the night. The energy that they projected, their choreography, it was clear that they were happy to finally be on stage again.
That afternoon, when we’d met at the hotel, Spikiri had given me a copy of their new album. Examining the CD cover it was hard to determine the name of the album (pictured right). It was eventually established that it’s called Delicious (Mapantsula Julle Moenie Worry). Well, of course it is. It’s just part of the illogical way that Trompies do things.
A few weeks after its release, the album is doing really well on the charts and fans are going crazy for the first single, Delicious. It has the traditional sexy voice in the form of their muse, the late, great Lebo Mathosa. It has that slowish kwaito beat, but there is something so refreshing and catchy about it at the same time.
The album also features some of the top artists, as usual. There is a great track featuring MXO. Who would have thought that MXO, the Afro-soul prince, would sound so good on a kwaito track? Brickz adds his customary scattered sound to a track called Volvo which is also proving popular. I’m Suffering features the growling Professor and Jairus with his high voice pushing the vocals. Many of the lines on this track are in tsotsi taal, but they work to hilarious effect. Dr Malinga does a love song called Palesa. Kom Soen My features the irreverence of AB Crazy and my darling, Flabba. There are also appearances by the customary Kalawa crew of Jah Seed, Stoan, Black Motion and Uhuru’s Celimpilo as well as Spikiri’s close friend, Skhokho.
The album ends with a surprisingly modern collaboration between them and their counterparts Alaska.
Listening to the album, it is clear that outside of AKA’s latest album and Professor’s soon-to-be released CD, Trompies are in the running for Album of the Year.
Meanwhile, back at the photoshoot, the idea is to do individual shots because the guys are South African musical icons, and then afterwards we would leave the building and hold an interview in Newtown.
First, Jairus and Spikiri decide to do the shoot together because they have been inseparable since they first embarked on their musical careers aged 14.
The other three complied by doing individual shots. When it was time to leave, Mjokes, Spikiri and Jairus said they couldn’t make the interview because they had to leave for radio interviews in Polokwane.
What? Huh, but…
And Mahoota couldn’t make it because he had to pick up children, which only left Eugene “Donald Duck” Mthethwa. So what about the interview?
“No, we trust you, Therese,” smiles Jairus. The others nod in agreement and I look at Eugene, the last man standing. He shrugs and says something along the lines of, that’s what happens when you work with these guys.
I did not know whether to feel proud because of their implicit trust or frustrated at their chaos. But then going back to the times I have dealt with most artists in the Kalawa Jazmee stable, I realised I should be used to it. You cannot control their organic way of doing things because then it wouldn’t be Kalawa.
So over a late lunch in Melville with Eugene, the controversial politician and kwaito artist, he explained the album from his side.
“I couldn’t bear the pain of being remembered as the one who broke up Trompies and went into politics. This album was the people’s call. I am proud of this album. It also marks 20 years of Kalawa Jazmee and if we don’t write our history, who will?
“Actually, Trompies never disbanded. We took a conscious decision to do what we love outside of Trompies. Trompies is not a one- hit wonder, but it was hard to get these superstars together to record.
“In terms of the production, if you listen to the songs they do take you back to our old stuff. It also captures the essence of Trompies.
“What makes it a hit is that we have captured an audience of elders and youngsters. We are definitely not a youth-based market, but we do have young artists on the album. This album has that magic.
“I might get into trouble for saying this, but this album is special because it is the last album. I am happy that we are doing a proper bow out. This is a reflection of 20 years in our industry and everyone wanted to work with us.”
Trompies’ album Delicious (Mapantsula Julle Moenie Worry) is a must-have for everyone who has loved South African music over the past 20 years.