Master KG‘s “Jerusalema” is one of the most popular South African songs at the moment (with over 50 million views on Youtube) and it has managed to crossover to Nigeria, Angola, Portugal, France, Italy, Spain and many other countries around the world.
The song, which was released in 2019, recently got a remix featuring Burna Boy. The remix debuted at number 6 on the Billboard World Digital Sales Chart and number 31 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs Chart.
Bolobedu house (or just bolo house) is one of the most exciting and uniquely South African sub-genres of dance music—it is a mixture of Afro house instrumentals and Bolobedu melodies usually sung with high-pitched autotune (a staple in the subgenre).
The last four years have seen a strong resurgence of the sound which originates in South Africa’s Limpopo province. What was once a regional sound has taken over the dance floors around the country and is on its way to global success.
It’s evident that Limpopo house music is on the rise—the recognition of artists like Master KG, King Monada and Makhadzi through national TV and radio airplay, awards, streaming platforms and, mostly, social media is proof of the reemergence.
The name is derived from the Balobedu, an ethnic group from the Limpopo province. Much like the ethnic group, the roots of the sub-genre can be traced back to the late 2000s. Many earlier bolo house songs were regional hits, case in point, DJ Rakzen‘s “Phindi“. It wasn’t until the release of DJ Call Me’s album Marry Me Season 1 circa 2008/9 that the subgenre gained national appreciation.
Bolo house is reminiscent of and inspired by the sound that was pioneered by the late legendary house producer Bojo Mujo, who was born in Limpopo and grew up in Gauteng by way of Pretoria. He became popular in the 2000s through the release of anthemic songs like “Shiwelele” and “Summer Rain” (if you know, you know!).
The nominations for the 2020 South African Music Awards have recently been announced and many people including artists were outraged by the exclusion of Makhadzi’s “Matorokisi” and “Jerusalema” in the Record Of The Year category.
It’s clear that the people that sit on the board of the awards overlook the sub-genre and its artists. But, numbers do not lie, and the sound resonates with people, in and outside of South Africa.
Below is a list of five essential bolo house songs to bring you up to speed with one of South Africa’s most unique, powerful and fast-growing dance music movements.
Editor’s note: The list is in no particular order.
DJ Call Me “ Maxaka” (feat. Makhadzi, Mr Brown and DJ Dance) (2020)
DJ Call Me is often considered one of the early adopters of bolo house. The release of his 2008 CD with an accompanying DVD, Marry Me Season 1 made him a household name in many townships and villages across the country and neighbouring countries. You wouldn’t go anywhere without hearing his music—from local taverns to taxi ranks. The title track “Marry Me” was a smash hit, and people of all ages were singing along to it. DJ Call Me’s old album and EP have been reissued and have made their way into DSPs. In 2019, he made a comeback, producing some notable songs including Makhadzi’s “Matorikisi”. The aforementioned pair recently released “Maxaka” and it became viral even before it was officially released and had fans begging for its official release.
King Monada “Malwedhe” (2018)
King Monada, known for his infectious autotune-heavy vocals, took the country by storm in 2016 through the release of his song “Ska Bhora Moreki.” In 2018, Monada did it again with “Malwedhe”. The song was voted number 2 in the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Song Of The Year competition in 2018/2019. The song started a viral dance challenge in which people would pretend to faint—a reference to the song’s lyrics, in which Monada sings about having a sickness that causes him to collapse if his girlfriend would break up with him or cheat on him. Sometimes dubbed as The King of Bolobedu House, Monada also experiments with other genres including amapiano and Afro-pop.
Master KG “Skeleton Move” (feat. Zanda Zakuza) (2018)
“Skeleton Move” was voted as the number 1 song in the 2018/2019 SABC Song Of The Year contest. The contest was more than just a competition between the two songs “Skeleton Move” and “Malwedhe,” it further represented a shift in the country and the acceptance of the sub-genre, as people from Limpopo are sometimes marginalised by the rest of the country. To date, the song has over 23 million views on YouTube and was big in other African territories. In 2018, Master KG won Best Artiste, Duo or Group In African Electro at the AFRIMA awards for the song. Master KG is at the forefront of taking bolo house to the rest of the world and his song “Jerusalema” is proof, with a remix featuring Burna Boy and many other international remixes alluded to.
Makhadzi “Matorokisi” (feat. DJ Call Me and MrK2) (2019)
Makhadzi is one of the most loved artists in the sub-genre. Originally from Venda in Limpopo, she sings predominantly in Tshivenda, her native language. “Matorikisi” is based on a Venda proverb which loosely translates to “when a train head moves, it moves with its other parts.” In the context of the song, it means if you enter into a relationship with someone, you must accept and take all the baggage they come with—if they have kids from their previous relationships, then you must treat the kids as your own. “Matorokisi” also had a dance challenge craze in which people dance in a circle with hands on each other’s waist or shoulders — resembling a train in motion.
DJ Sunco ft Queen Jenny “Koko Mmatswale” (2019)
The song loosely translates to “knock knock mother-in-law, we are not leaving without the bride”—it’s an interpolation from a traditional wedding song usually sung when the groom’s family goes to the bride’s homestead to start lobola negotiations or fetch the bride. In true Bolobedu fashion, Queen Vinny sings with autotune over Sunco’s infectious production. The song became an instant hit during the 2019 December period. If you are planning to get married soon, this is definitely one of the songs to play for line dancing during the wedding reception.
For more Bolo house, listen to these mixes below:
🎄 BOLOBEDU LIMPOPO HOUSE 🎄 MASTER KG JERUSALEM – MAKHADZI – KING MONADA – DJ CALL ME – SUNCOVISION