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Rudeboyz Diverge and Stay Solid with New EP, ‘Gqomwave’

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EP Artwork (supplied)

Gqom has hit a lot of major milestones and and high water marks over the last year or so.

It’s first big peak, Babes Wodumo’s ubiquitous ‘Wololo’ turned out – either luckily or inevitably, depending on your perspective – to be less of a flash in the pan and more of a new level at which the whole genre would operate. The word ‘gqom’ would be used more widely, as its sister genre sghubu became a staple. Its biggest proponents also hit individual highs – with DJ Lag touring extensively throughout Europe and Asia, and the Distruction Boyz releasing their debut album – prophetically titled Gqom Is The Future – flooding the SA charts and playlists and sound systems and dancefloors. One of the biggest bellwethers showing the future health of the genre, and what it needs more of to become a sustainable force, is the nocturnal, experimental new Rudeboyz EP, Gqomwave.

In terms of timing, the EP seems set to capitalise on the growing tide in dance music from Durban, but when the first single ‘Bounce Back’ was out, it took a direction tangential to the pervasive gqom styles happening now, with skittering delayed drums, deep and rounded bass figures and signature stabbing kicks. The rest of the EP heads further down the same direction – deeper into the Rudeboyz own singular style and in some senses further from the rest of gqom.

Splintering of sounds in a genre can be seen on one hand as a sign of it losing a part of its essence, but really what it means is evolution – and the adding of new ideas to the pool that all its practitioners can draw from. That this Rudeboyz EP sounds not too much like the Distruction Boyz’s Gqom is the Future is a testament to both the duo’s hard work, and a positive indicator of their longevity. Gqom is the Future is firmly in the big room, while Gqomwave was designed for the hours after midnight.

‘No Mercy’, which follows ‘Bounce Back’ yields nothing to the listener with it’s relentless arrangement and hook- (and harmony-) free construction – it’s a song that dares audiences to dance the whole way through, there’s barely a break for thinking. ‘Major Turn Up’, as well, lives up it’s name, adding a few more layers to the ‘No Mercy’ formula, without losing any of the energy.

Gqomwave is now out on the increasingly impressive Goon Club Allstars, who also put DJ Lag’s debut EP. The variety and difference between these and other works in the style prove that it, and the Rudeboyz, are going nowhere.

Read our February 2016 full artist feature on the then three-man crew, RudeBoyz, iGqom’s Export Market, and the Paradox of Leading-Edge Music in Durban here.

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