At gqom’s genesis, as has been exhaustively described in every piece about the genre, the music was, and still is, spread via two primary methods: unmarked USBs and CDs spread throughout the taxi routes of the greater Durban area, and by sharing tracks over various cellphone messaging apps and bluetooth.
Since this low-fi genesis, the genre exploded on the left-field. It was then trafficked and exploited by some European pop-up labels and individuals, pressed to vinyl a select few times via Hyperdub and Goon Club Allstars, and went mainstream in Durban’s deep house Afrotainment-dominated dance scene and then again in South Africa via pop singles. Now, one of gqom’s pioneers is taking the genre back to its roots.
Distribution via Whatsapp is not an especially novel way of spreading music of this persuasion, and neither is it novel to release digital music for free these days. What is novel is for an artist already pressed to wax and venturing around the world, to release his next body of work on the medium reserved for those on the come-up with no access or credibility to secure ‘higher’ levels of record distribution formats.
This Thursday 13 July, at midnight, DJ Lag has promised to release his latest 3-track work over Whatsapp, in tribute to the ubiquity of the messaging service in Southern African life and its role in spreading the genre like wildfire through the digital streets of the country’s underground.
[EDIT: The release and deadline have been extended to 11am on Friday 14 July]
The EP was inspired by and written during his recent trip to New York for the Red Bull Music Academy Festival held in the Big Apple from late April to mid-May this year. It features two originals and a remix of the second track by Hyperdub-signed Okzharp, also known for his refreshingly crunchy collaborative EP with the unclassifiable and experimental Joburger Manthe Ribane.
All you need to do to receive the latest EP, Trip to New York, is sign up on his website here at djlag.com.
Read our full profile on the Gqom King, from when he was touring his booming, frantic sound to London, Krakow, Shanghai and Seoul, and more.
While you wait for the release, peep the cinematic music video for previous single ‘Ice Drop’ below, which features insight into the people, subculture and spaces that created the phenomenon of DJ Lag and the gqom scene as a whole.