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Boomkat Product Review:
Awesome Tapes From Africa gone done it again, pulling up Penny Penny's outstanding debut tape of slow house swagger from SA circa 1994. As with all the label's cherry-picked goodies, there's a brilliant story behind this one: the son of a famous traditional healer, singer and dancer (now Politician) Penny Penny hails from Limpopo province in Northeast South Africa - same as Shangaan Electro, home of the Tsonga disco sound - and had a rough start working on farms for r2.50 per month (25c US) at the age of ten. Jobs as gold miner, labourer and restaurant owner followed before he found employment as janitor at a music studio in Johannesburg. A few after-hours sessions ensued before an on-the-spot audition earned him a demo session; 'Shaka Bundu'. Crafted together with his engineer and Tsonga disco notable, Joe Shirimani, they cut these eight tracks of bright keyboard hooks, melancholic basslines and the sort of gorgeous male/female call and response vocals many will recognise from Shangaan Electro tunes. Set to a swaggering 100bpm or slower groove and gilded with lush pads, the sound is something like a South African answer to Nu Groove and the resulting record sold more than 250,000 copies in his home country, spawning countless shows to thousands across the continent. If this album was released a few months back it would have been our number one summer record, as it goes it's destined to be our winter heater, and we can't wait to rock it for years to come.