02 Sep 2019by Jarrad Treger

A Look at Kususa and Argento Dust in MixMag, Curated by Black Coffee

A Look at Kususa and Argento Dust in MixMag, Curated by Black Coffee

Kususa and Argento Dust recently appeared on the cover of MixMag’s September issue alongside Black Coffee. Now we are giving you a look inside! Check them out as they appear as part of the feature “Africa is Not a Jungle”, curated by Black Coffee.

WORDS: DAVID POLLOCK | PHOTOS: JOE PLIMMER & HENRY MARSH | STYLING: LEWIS MUNRO & RYAN HING | HAIR: BEE MAKINA

 

 

“He was my fan!” laughs Samurai Yasusa mischievously, recounting his first meeting with his producing partner Kunzima Theology at a gig in their home city of Durban in 2015. “I had a bigger brand than him before that – but when we met he was an extremely good DJ, I really liked how he played the music and the songs he was playing, and I couldn’t understand why he was just my fan. It was futuristic stuff, and when I listened to it I saw how we could complement each other.”

For Kunzima it was a case of right place, right time, and he dropped the suggestion to his more experienced collaborator. “He was like, ‘you know, I also do music’,” says Samurai, “so he sent me some of his projects, and he was doing lovely stuff. We started vibing about our own project, back and forward, and then we worked hard on making it a solid project together, rather than it being one-sided. In 2016 Kususa was born, and we’ve been making music ever since.”

The name ‘Kususa’, says Samurai, is both a fusion of the pair’s stage names (Samurai is Mncedi Tshicila; Kunzima is Joshua Sokweba) and a word which, when roughly translated into the South African language of Shona, means ‘to start over’. The pair’s first song together was a thundering 2017 remix, with QueTornik, of DeMajor’s ‘Traveller’. “That’s the track which I feel highlighted what we were going to do. It had all the right elements,” says Samurai.

What are the elements of a Kususa track? “A hard kick, right? And that African rhythm,” he says. “But for every track we just pick it up and go forward with it, every situation has its own energy, and that’s what I feel makes our sound very different. You’ll hear it’s all Kususa, but some will be more mellow and some will be more hard-hitting.” Their latest is the just-released ‘Incwadi Encane’, with fellow Durbanite Argento Dust, on the Ibiza-based Sudam Recordings. It’s another banger, with a soulful groove and a fierce beat.

Samurai’s eyes were opened to music by the classic compilations of SA-based labels Soul Candi and House Afrika, and was further informed by the Durban-born sound of gqom (“kind of like broken beat, but with synths and kicking bass,” he explains). Yet the pair’s roots go even deeper. “There’s a genre called maskanda, which is originally from KwaZulu-Natal,” he explains. “We feed from there, and some of the patterns are from Kenya and what-not, and we incorporate that with synths to make our sound. Imagine two guys, totally different from each other, and the stories they can tell – there are so many parts of our sound to explore.”

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One of the younger and less-heralded artists amid the current generation of South African producers getting ready to break out onto the international scene is also one who’s perfectly placed to follow the same journey taken by the most famous countryman in his field. Argento Dust – real name Minenhle Ndlazi – is from the township of Umlazi, near Durban, which was also home to Black Coffee before he worked his way to international stardom.

“I was inspired by people like Black Coffee and Culoe de Song,” says Ndlazi. “That’s where I started to love house music and pay attention to it. For me, this thing started in 2010. I’ve been in music for ten years – since I was in high school, still a learner.” House Junkies was his first project, as part of a quartet of friends from Umlazi who were studying production in Durban, though they went their separate ways in 2014 when all involved decided they wanted to try and make it on their own.

For Ndlazi, recognition came quickly. In 2015 he worked with DJ Shimza on ‘Congo Congo’, a rough-edged but commercial party track with a distinctive afro edge, which became a big club hit in South Africa and drew attention further afield. The pair met through social media, but the collaboration turned out so well that Ndlazi worked once more with Shimza on 2018’s ‘All Alone’, which had a similar mood. When Black Coffee created a mixtape for Sónar’s 25th anniversary last year, ‘All Alone’ was on it.

 

More recently, Ndlazi has collaborated with old friends Kususa, including on the lush groove of this summer’s ‘Incwadi Encane’. “They’ve been my friends for a long time,” says Ndlazi. “Kunzima lived in the same neighbourhood, so we’ve known each other for many years. We’ve got the same taste, because our music uses a mixture of African sounds and drums blended with techno. It’s all music combined, of very different types.”

For Ndlazi it’s more than just the ease of working with friends from the local area that brought him together with Kususa; instead, it’s something about where they’re from which sets them apart. “In Durban, I think it’s a culture,” he says. “We do what’s inside, we do what we love. That’s why we always come up with something different. Our music has its own taste: it’s different from other genres. To us, it’s cultural.”

Keep up to date with Kususa by following the links below:

Keep up to date with Argento Dust by following the links below:

Categories: Announcements / Argento Dust / Interviews / JETBLACK Artists / Kususa