Digging up rare vinyl grooves in the city of gold, DJ Okapi brings a forgotten era of South African pop music back to life – especially the synth-fuelled 80s disco-funk known as bubblegum and the unique house-inspired kwaito grooves of the early 90s, connecting them to their contemporaries in other parts of Africa and its diaspora.
Since 2009, through his AfroSynth blog (www.afrosynth.blogspot.com), DJ Okapi has been instrumental in turning a new generation of music fans all over the world on to South African music of the 80s and 90s, most of which was never heard outside the country at the time. The website has since grown into an online store and more recently a shop in downtown Johannesburg.
With African synthesizer music growing in popularity around the world, DJ Okapi was headhunted to put together a compilation of South African disco for US-based label Cultures of Soul, titled Boogie Breakdown, released in September 2016. Further specialist compilations followed in 2018 on the mighty Rush Hour recordings, compiled in collaboration with notorious digger Antal and entitled ‘Pantsula! The Rise Of Electronic Dance Music In South Africa 1988-90’. Putting his hand to more curations for Soundway followed and the release of ‘Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth Boogie In 1980s South Africa’ shortly followed, highlighting incredible music both suited to the dancefloor as well as the living room that is now gaining recognition and appreciation worldwide from collectors, DJs and listeners from all ends of the spectrum.
The future continues to looks bright with AfroSynth beginning it’s life as a record label in its own right, reissuing incredible South African disco, kwaito and bubblegum from centuries ago repackaged with love for a new generation of listeners.