Busi Mhlongo We Baba Omncane (in the Mix)

altBusi Mhlongo We Baba Omncane (in the Mix) 1947 -2010

"Ranked alongside Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu and The Mahotella Queens, ‘Mam’ Busi Mhlongo was the first female artist to spread the Maskanda vocal style internationally. South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, lamented her passing and declared her “a true legend”. Just as the hopes of the South African people are dashed on the football pitch the nation has also been deprived of one its greatest voices. On 15 June 2010, at the age of 62, the ‘Urban Zulu’ – Busi Mhlongo - finally lost her battle against breast cancer. "    (Paul Bradshaw / Straight No Chaser) This is a remix tribute by the new generation of South African Hosue producers featuring contribution by the new cream of South African house producers like Blaq Soul, Nkokhi, Infinite Boys, Funk Daddy, Top Shayela, Sumthyn Black and European masters Rocco and Gabriel Le Mar.


 “A night in the life of a dedicated writer and fan - Bongani Madondo on Mam Busi”

The danger with writers being too close to their subjects – especially, enigmatic souls like Busi Mhlongo, whose swell of dedicated fans often assumes they know her – is that you end up blurring that sacred line between art, artist and the watcher.
Though most hardened scribes will lie about this, for a real fan – and that includes critics, folks the masses (mis)trust for critical arbitration – watching, meeting, or being in the personal or creative orbit of an artist with abilities to transport them beyond their bodily limitations, is, my friend, akin to falling in love.
Being a fan, is at best, an infantile project. Like a child, you throw your trust unto someone who has never asked for it. At its most honest, fan-dom differs not from any religious belief.
The fan undertakes a personal oath, an article of faith – just as long as your desired artist continues delivering what you like, or creating artwork that opens up channels for escape, or reconnection with the self. Thus, every time a true fan meets the artist, it feels like falling in love for the first time.Attending a countless number of Busi Mhlongo’s gigs – over fifty, at the last count; from her Civic Center launch, where audiences witnessed Hugh Masekela and Bheki Mseleku bowing before throwing notes into an on-stage hat, to the Union Buildings Millennium Festival show, in which the heavens opened up to release shit loads of rain in the middle of her granaltd finale, the then unknown songstress TK, vice-clinging my hand, tears, sweat and rain soaking up her oversized top – I have seen Mhlongo’s art, breaking and reconfiguring people’s to their core.
Not so long ago, at the Urban Voices Festival held at Bassline, Newtown, her third show that I attended in a month, I marvelled at individuals rushing the stage, dancing trippy-ly, mad swaying of dreadlocks, and karaok-itschly attempting to sing, note for note, with the master shaman on stage.
My eyes followed the movements of a young man who’d pushed his way right to the front of the stage, upper body shaking in a robot-type dance, as though dismembering his own body parts, and then jumping one beat a second for a good thirty minutes. This was a man evidently lost in a charged-up atmosphere akin to religious surrender, water baptism, sexual release, a mind trip and meditated loss of personal sense, for the sake of being in a shared communion with the artist on stage or with the gods and demons this artist provoked in him.
 Later, I would understand why audiences react this way, after driving with a friend for six hours from Johannesburg to Durban, through unforgiving darkness, to attend a Woman’s Month gig which she co-led with Mahotella Queens at the legendary Bat Centre. “This is where I first played when I returned home after twenty years in foreign lands. And this is,” I remember her pausing, to let it sink in, “where I will retire.”
For days preceding that show, we have been in a marathon exchange of telephonic chats. Again, she has not being feeling well, and for somebody who once “interviewed” her, in which she only uttered three words, on the eve of the launch of Urban Zulu, and another, four years later, in which she spoke right up to 4 am – I was kinda’f attuned to her unstated pain by now. Showtime! The Durban dockside-located Bat Centre is packed like sardines the ocean it harbors has long ceased throwing down the beach. Near the entrance, a push-and-shove show takes place, government types and the holloi-polloi, angle for better seating inside the dance hall.
Busi Mhlongo takes the stage after an impressive all-women Zulu dance and song troupe set the audience on high alert. What ensued, I don’t think the audience was prepared for.
In my daily hustle – in the name of work – scavenging shows locally and around the world, from rock band Skunk Anansie at Madiba’s 80th birthday bash, to 1997’s Fugees Live at The Brixton Academy, backed by The Wailers, to Salif Keita live at Vista Soweto Campus, add BoomShaka’s all-time edgy, experimental at the Rosebank Firealt station, circa 1996 – I make for a pretty jaded live music fan.
Yet Busi Mhlongo’s show conveyed the message with hard-hitting beauty: blessed are the jaded, for they, too – ‘pon experiencing a musical baptism of this nature – shall inherit the earth, or the grooves, or both.  The band was on a deep funk, and gospel-meets-lounge music element. Syrupy bass, sparse, spaced out keyboards that out bass’ed the bass, and the guitars wailing in tandem with the drummer, who seemed to be keeping the center holding, but was not in fact. Though the intent was noble, there was something annoying about the sound. People didn’t seem to notice though, or care. Ever alert, Mhlongo’s body language conveyed a bit of displeasure but the problem persisted, at which point something other than her mere self, took over as the band settled onto the third track. She took control. Her usually shriek-ful vocals blended, and then rose a whisper above the guitars. >
She stood there, dead still, heat, make-up, sweat and the reddish lighting giving her a face a bloodied Aztec or West African mask resemblance, and with all the power she could summon from her belly, and every pore in her body the artist let rip into “uMethisi”, from her debut album Bhabemu, in the most beautiful voice I have ever heard sung live.
Her repertoire and choreography, halted only with occasional, teary announcements – “I love you, let’s appreciate love, what God gave us” – was of an initiate performing an abangoma ritual, a passage into the world of healers and marabouts. The audience was there but not aware of her: she belonged to some other time.
Busi Mhlongo the wailer gave way to the balladeer, the artist gave way to the healer, the healer beckoned the priest, who led us to a brothel, where body and soul merges, even if it’s for a five-minute duration of the rhythmic snake dance, back to the stage where the tame Zulu woman about to celebrate her 60th birthday, gave way to a rock-star chic, an Afro alien-Funk Goddess on a futuristic mission to convert the non-believers.
Bongani Madondo

For your 60 seconds sound samples please click here

1  Awukhu Muzi Dance mix   7:12  Blaq Soul featuring Busi Mhlongo
 Composed by Nkanyiso Wiseman Mhlongo and written by Busi Mhlongo,
Themba Ngcobo, Mkhalelwa Spector Ngwazi
Published by MELT 2000 Publishing SA


2    We Baba Omncane Rocco Underground mix   7:25  Rocco featuring Busi Mhlongo
Composed by Rocco and written by Busi Mhlongo, Themba Ngcobo,
Mkhalelwa Spector Ngwazi
Published by MELT 2000 Publishing SA and Mourad Semakdji Admin by Atal Music Publishingalt

 3   Isono Sami nkOKhi remix   7:48   nkOKhi featuring Busi Mhlongo
Original track from the album Between by Max Laesser on M.E.L.T. 2000
Lyrics by Busi Mhlongo, composed by Mlungisi Mlangeni
Published by MaxMusic CH and Baainar Records

4  We Baba Omncane Infinite Boys Deeper mix  6:43   Infinite Boys featuring Busi Mhlongo
Composed by S. A. Mabaso & T. R. Mabaso
Written by Busi Mhlongo, Themba Ngcobo, Mkhalelwa  Spector Ngwazi
Published by MELT 2000 Publishing SA & Phat Kat Music administered by EMI Music 

5  Kae Kae  5:58 Dan Mampone and Mabi Thobejane featuring Busi Mhlongo
Composed by Dan Mampone & Mabi Thobejane
Written by Busi Mhlongo, Themba Ngcobo, Mkhalelwa Spector Ngwazi
Published by MELT 2000 Publishing SA

6  We Baba Omncane Funk Daddy Ngeke Kulunge remix   7:22 Funk Daddy featuring Busi Mhlongo
Composed by S.M. Sopazi and written by Busi Mhlongo, Themba Ngcobo,
Mkhalelwa Spector Ngwazi
Published by MELT 2000 Publishing SA & Itay'ma Le Funk Music

7  Critical Condition  7:59  Gabriel Le Mar featuring Busi Mhlongo
Composed by Gabriel Le Mar and lyrics by Busi Mhlongo
Publishing BM Publishing (admin by sheer) & Universal Music Publishing

8  Goat Song Alpine mix  7:50  Blaq Soul featuring Lungiswa Plaatjies and Busi Mhlongo

Composed by Blaq Soul and Lungiswa Plaatjies
Backing vocals by Busi Mhlongo Published by MELT2000 Publishing

Ubaba Wezingane  6:37 Sumthyn Black featuring Busi Mhlongo
Written by Busi Mhlongo, Themba Ngcobo, Mkhalelwa Ngwazi
Music by Steven Makhongela, vocals by Busi Mhlongo
Published by MELT2000 Publishing SA and Sumthyn Music

10  We Baba Omncane Soul Junky re-mix   6:52
 Composed by S.S. Shabalala and written by Busi Mhlongo,
Themba Ngcobo, Mkhalelwa Spector Ngwazi
Published by MELT2000 Publishing SA & Itay'ma Le Funk Music alt

11  Hlisan’ umoya Musa mix   5:04   Top Shayela and Blueberry Jam featuring Busi Mhlongo
Composed by Musa Maki of Soulisence Production and written by Busi Mhlongo,
Themba Ngcobo, Mkhalelwa Spector Ngwazi. Spoken words by Blueberry Jam
Published by MELT 2000 Publishing SA

Poem by Blueberry Jam

“Lower your arms/guns and come come down, sons of Africa. In a river of blood, no cattle can drink. A person is a person through other people from our past and the old ways. I can see you hardening your heart like a stone. Do you not feel for the sons of Afrika fighting other people’s war ? Come down my people, cover each other with a blanket of love.”