Muenda Mputu
view posts

Have you ever listened to music that spiritually transports you to another dimension? If your answer is no, then you must not be familiar with the afro-tech subgenre known as three-step. Today we celebrate and do a deep dive into this steaming hot musical genre that is taking South Africa by storm. We are keeping it local and lekker, applauding local big names who have had a massive impact on the sound as a whole.

History and origin of the sound

In an article published by the DJ & Music Production Institute, three-step is described as a subgenre of house music developed and perfected in South Africa. Later it gained popularity in various other parts of the world. This innovative genre blends kwaito, tribal and deep and soulful house music to create a masterpiece that cannot fully be described by words. Three-step seems almost universal because it is a unique fusion of various music styles. This makes it suitable for a wedding, family gathering or even something mundane and less formal like a study session or running daily errands. Rumour has it that the infamous local DJ Thakzin originated and perfected the sound and later called it three-step due to the three-beat count that the log drum creates before the chorus or bridge of the song. Other names also pop up when searching for the originator of this beautiful sound, but regardless of who the creator is, the listeners shall forever be grateful for the birth of the genre. Though the sound was created by one person, a group of DJs have pushed the sound forward and have therefore infused the sound as a whole with their musical DNA.

Honourable mentions

Euphonik and Audiogasmic Soundz brought three-step to life with the release of their collective single, “The Way”, in early 2018. As an ignorant 16-year-old at the time, I was not fond of the song purely based on the fact that it has no lyrics. I gave the song another listen more recently and immediately changed my initial judgement. Euphonik and Audiogasmic Soundz knew that seeking a vocalist to add lyrics to the song would ruin it entirely, and their musical genius should be applauded for not doing so. 

Other honourable mentions include some of the first DJs to promote the sound: the king of House himself – Black Coffee, Culoe De Song (“Rambo”), DJ Shimza, DJ Kent, and the godfather of kwaito – Oskido. All these musicians believed in three-step long before a formal title was created for the sound, and they continued to play around with the music and create innumerable variations of the original sample of the sound.

Do not forget the new school DJs who added youthful pizazz and helped the genre to gain global recognition due to the powerful influence of social media: Dlala Thukzin – the mastermind behind “iPlan” – along with Oscar Mbo, Morda Bongz and DJ Da Capo.

Songs and stuff like that…

This is a new PDBY feature inspired by the iconic Metro FM talk show radio host Wilson B Nkosi. In each issue, it will provide a peek into a specific genre of music. “Songs and stuff like that” aims to enrich the reader and add colour to your repetitive playlist. The time has come to break away from listening to the same two artists and albums on repeat. 

To ease you into this world of musical bliss, and in light of the sub-genre three-step, below is a list of five songs that best translate what this sound entails. Sit back, hang tight, and listen responsibly, music heads.

Oscar Mbo and KG Smallz (feat. Dearson) – Yes God (Mörda, Thakzin, Mhaw Keys Remix)

DJ Kent (feat. Mo-T, Mörda and Brenden Praise) – Horns In The Sun (Thakzin Remix)

Mörda, Oscar Mbo and Murumba Pitch – Mohigan Sun

Culoe De Song (feat. Busi Mhlongo)– Webaba 

Kelvin Momo (feat. Cnethemba Gonelo) – Kurhula