- Trip To New York, the title of DJ Lag's new release, celebrates how far he's traveled as one of gqom's first breakout artists. It also gives us a taste of how things work in Durban: a couple of weeks before its release date, Lag distributed the EP through WhatsApp for free. As the press release explains, "As a communication tool, WhatsApp has also played a pivotal role in the emergence of gqom." Given the proliferation of mobile phones in South Africa compared with the ratio of adults considered internet users—130 mobile subscriptions per 100 citizens in 2012 versus one in three adults with online access in the same year—it makes sense.
Of the two originals, both of which use the same vocal sample, "Trip To New York" is the must-have dance floor belter. It has motorik snares and toms, layers of percussive vocal shouts that rub against bass drones, foreboding two-note strings and a funky bassline. "Khonkolo" is less immediately bewitching, and even though it operates more on the offbeat, it's more melodically monotone than your usual gqom track, which is saying something. A remix of "Khonkolo," by Okzharp (AKA Gervase Gordon, formerly of LV and originally from South Africa), inserts a broader melodic range and a different kind of internet zeitgeist, but retains the hypnotic rhythm.
01. Trip To New York
03. Khonkolo (Okzharp Remix)