MTN Bushfire has announced the first batch of artists to perform at Swaziland's biggest music gathering in May. The first selection of musicians alludes to the festival’s mission to once again provide fans with a diverse line-up from across the African continent.
Congolese musician Baloji, Tuareg guitarist Bombino and Belgian-South African newcomer Petite Noir are among the first artists confirmed to play Bushfire’s main stage. South African kwaito superstars TKZee will also make their long-awaited return.
Made up of three school friends who have all forged successful individual careers since their heyday – Zwai Bala, Kabelo Mabalane and Tokollo Tshabalala – TKZee are slated to make a lasting impression on festivalgoers. Known for their ‘90s hits ‘Take it Eezy’, ‘Palafala’ and ‘Shibobo’, the trio is expected to be a favourite among the South African contingent at the festival.
Tuareg music and culture has captured the imaginations of fans for decades. Niger’s Bombino continues the rich history of desert rock even after two of his band members were killed during the Tuareg rebellion of 2007, the same year the self-proclaimed rebel went into exile in Burkina Faso. His musical journey has taken him to the US where he recorded a version of the Rolling Stones classic ‘Hey Negrita’ alongside Keith Richards and Charlie Watts.
Bombino’s first internationally released album, Agadez, received worldwide recognition after its release in 2011. His follow-up, Nomad (2013), was produced by The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach and debuted at No 1 on the Billboard World Music Album Chart, earning rave reviews. Azel, his 2016 release, received critical acclaim, with Pitchfork giving the album a rating of 7.8 and calling it “a sublime iteration of desert blues that’s both authentic and ambitious”.
Baloji, who grew up in Belgium, is a poet, composer, lyricist, beatmaker, scriptwriter, actor and video artist. His genre-busting compositions are poised at the crossroads of traditional African music, rap, soul, funk, jazz and even deep house. The francophone singer has achieved international praise since the release of his 2008 debut album Hotel Impala.
The last of the announced artists, Petite Noir, is a young South African of Belgian and Angolan descent. He was one half of Popskarr and was also a member of the Capital of Cool music collective. Since his recording debut in 2012, Noir has created what he describes as "noir wave" or "new wave with an African aesthetic". He has been described as one of the most exciting new artists to emerge from the thriving Cape Town electro scene.
MTN Bushfire will take place on 26-28 May near Manzini. For more information visit the festival’s official website.