The Botswana music scene has been pretty redundant for a while now.
The youth tries to switch it up but without the privilege of having the capital to invest in themselves and their art; one can only do so much. Also, many of the young kids haven’t found their voices yet – so even when they DO create, it’s usually a subpar imitation of something they’ve heard in the West.
Tswana recording studio and label Bang!Gae (which is a wordplay on the phrase ‘beng gae’ which means ‘those from my land/home’) was guilty of that too at some point in time.
Now, they’ve been established as some of the greatest producers and artists to come from our soil – racking up over eight YAMA (Yarona FM Music Awards) award nominations and bringing three home, releasing chart-topping hit after hit over several genres (hip hop, Afro-pop, kwaito and reggae) and boasting the privilege of being the musical home of the Zimbabwean-born, Tswana-raised 19-year-old Takunda Muusha, who shocked the continent by producing on Riky Rick’s critically acclaimed and award-winning Family Values.
There couldn’t possibly be a better time to sit down with them – underrated yet also on the cusp of breaking through internationally.
When we finally get to record, it’s a little too late at the end of a very long day and the only people left are myself, Tshepo ‘Nephew’ Moanakwena, the founder and head producer, Donno Season, another producer and artist, Tsaone ‘Young Black’ Sekhambo, executive manager and artist and MiZee, another artist and technically a founder since he’s been around them since a little after their inception (when he was 14). Basically, almost everyone who matters is there, except Francois, another founder and in my opinion, the most versatile producer.
But the show must go on, right? What you’ll hear is a very fluid and at times very personal conversation among friends, but also, an opportunity for a fan to truly learn more about their faves. We discussed the origin of the label, growth and betrayal in the industry, and of course, the time they literally ganged up on me and yelled in my face over an album review.
Over the next few days I spent my time trying to capture the essence of Bang!Gae and as could be expected, they’re as average as any bunch of men in their early 20s could be – albeit famous young men in their 20s in a country where we’ll probably have our first Young Money in another lifetime. You can listen to my podcast with them here: