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When you have made a great contribution to South African music like Don Laka has (he had a hand in creating kwaito), it’s easy to relax.
But Laka strives to be relevant. His last album in 2010, Poison, was an earth-conscious offering that gave voice to the plight of the planet.
Now he’s back with Heritage, an album that gives a new interpretation to the struggle and protest songs of South Africa. This is dedicated to the ANC’s centenary celebration and, with the Mangaung conference happening later in the year, it’s a topical one.
It’s an instrumental album that gives the songs of the liberation movement Bra Don’s signature kwaai jazz treatment, which is smooth and simple by nature.
There’s great nostalgia in Dubula (Ayasaba Amagwala) and Siyaya ePitoli and emotive qualities in the sombre Hambakahle Mkhonto and Senzeni Na?
Bra Don respects the music in that he keeps the chords as original as possible and only improvises in the middle of each song. This makes the listening pretty predictable and the music could do with more soul.
But it’s a great idea that he has started with Heritage. Imagine a classical orchestral treatment of this kind of music or even better, an orchestral approach with only indigenous instruments.
It’s a good documentation of history in another form. – Kgomotso Moncho