South by Southwest Aftershots
Reviewed by Dan Oko, Fri., March 23, 2012
Spoek MathamboRed 7, March 16
"Free your ass and your mind will follow" were George Clinton's famous words in 1970. Forty-two years later, eclectic 27-year-old South African rapper/producer Spoek Mathambo fully embraces the Funkadelic gospel. "Are we going to fly?" asked Mathambo, before leading his driving quartet through a holy mash-up of soul, funk, punk, hip-hop, and hard rock. The rubber-faced, rubber-limbed Johannesburg native – born Nthato Mokgata – who wore a cap painted with the face of Lucille Ball, kicked off with the bass-heavy "Kites," funky leadoff on Mathambo's red-hot Sub Pop debut released this week. Like his recordings and remixes, the show included double-time raps, reggae beats, exotic samples, and squeals of indie-rock guitar, a mélange that recalled Manu Chao at times. Mathambo played the party anthem "Don't Mean To Be Rude," off his 2010 release Mshini Wam, then returned to new material for the rest of the set. Guitarist Nicolaas Van Reenen and the rest of the band (keys, sax, and drums) played fiercely on glammy funk jam "Dog To Bone" and "Venison Fingers." Mathambo closed with "Let Them Talk," a garage soul standout.