Parabyl's Top 10 Bass-Heavy South African Tracks

by Parabyl17 September 2020 · 7 min read

I'm Parabyl, a producer from Cape Town making experimental and emotional electronic music and a member of the CapeClub collective.

I've been asked by our commander-in-chief Omar Morto to put together a playlist of my favourite bass-heavy South African tracks, and to share a few words on each of them. I've loved music with a strong low-end presence as far back as I can remember - regardless of specific genre - so I personally think I'm a great fit to create such a playlist.

The following tunes should be enjoyed with loud speakers (and / or loud pack) and an open mind if you're not really one for music that can be a little out there.

Listen to the Playlist on Spotify

10: Professor 3 - Professor Rhythm

One of my favourite things about streaming services is how easy it's become to find older music - specifically older South African music - from artists I might never have heard of without the great algorithm.

Professor 3 is one such song that I can never get out of my head. It's got that power that comes with the simplicity of a well-constructed house track, with an equal part of South African flavour that I feel was laying down foundations for the Kwaito that was to come.

The song, simply put, feels timeless, and it's largely thanks to that killer bassline.

9: Donkey Rattle - Felix Laband

Love him or hate him, Felix is undeniably an icon for many South African beatmakers looking for someone alternative and experimental to look up to. Donkey Rattle is synonymous with this reputation, and such a great example of making music which is both experimental and consumable.

Donkey Rattle is the kind of track that, no matter how many times you've heard it, when you hear the SH-101 plucks starting from the other end of the venue, you get a little giddy. It's also a great go-to for testing a new set of headphones or speakers.

8: Trigger - Chee

I was introduced to Chee in the midst of his absolutely face-melting CTEMF performance a few years back. I had no clue where I was or what was going on, but I couldn't step away.

I often find the genres and styles around modern American bass genres to feel a little 'false' to me, and Chee has completely re-contextualized that for me. He's now living and touring in the states and has become another local producer proudly on the tip of our tongues.

Trigger is, in my opinion, one of the best displays of his unique style and mind-blowing sonic ability.

7: Touching - TYLER

Around 2016-2017 I started immersing myself in a scene of Soundcloud producers who referred to the music they made as 'wave'. I had always been looking for a name to associate with my interest in beats-ey, cloud-rappy instrumental songs that focused more on detailed production as opposed to being a backdrop for Soundcloud rappers like BONES to rhyme over.

At the time, there was this song by an artist called TYLER which kept popping up in mixes and radio shows, eventually leading up to one of the biggest wave music premieres I can remember before the genre started hitting the mainstream. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Tyler was living in Cape Town, friends with many of the local DJs I've grown close with.

Touching will forever by synonymous with the wave scene for me, as much as it's changed, split up, and gained new names since its inception. We've not heard any new music from Tyler in a while, but he had what it took to spearhead a new and emerging sound, so we can only imagine what's next.

6: White Fluff - Parabyl

I just had to do it - I'd just dropped a two-track, Omar asked me to write this - I couldn't help but drop one of my own in here.

White Fluff feels the culmination of my explorations into wave music, and subsequently the genres that inspired it (UK Garage, Dubstep, Trance and Trap to name a few), and I wouldn't have included it in this list if I felt it didn't hold its own against the other tracks listed here.

The bassline is often the part of the song I spend the longest on, and as much as this one's pretty minimalist, I set myself a challenge of creating the perfect 808/Reese blend which retained the feeling of "dub" that I feel is lost in so much of the music claiming to be inspired by it.

5: Different - Jaydon Lewis ft. Internet Girl

Jaydon is a young gun even by CapeClub's standards, and has stood out in the last few years at one of the best producers South Africa has to offer - plain and simple. His creativity in songwriting and arrangement never ceases to impress, and he's one of the few who I feel helps me stop thinking of 'radio music' as just that.

Different doesn't seem like the kind of track you might find me playing on the regular if you know me well, but to be honest I'm hooked. I'm a sucker for a fine bass, clean production, catchy vocal melodies and, above all, music which is refreshing.

For me, Jaydon and Internet Girl get a 10/10 from me on all of these points. One to keep an eye on? An understatement.

4: Hosherr - Alaska

I love Accuse as much as the next self-respecting South African, but I would be lying if I said Hosherr wasn't my favourite Alaska song. It feels like a refix / bootleg of Accuse, but with a more sinister feel to it - a rare feature in a lot of Kwaito where the 'feel-good' overpowers all .

It's got that perfect blend of a bouncy bassline, some beautiful keys and organs, and lyrics with an irresistible flow. It's one of those songs that I would show someone if they had never heard of Kwaito before.

With Amapiano taking the sonic forefront of South African pop music, not to mention the impact Gqom has had on local eletronic music, tracing the roots of these genres back to Kwaito and Deep House has been a musical adventure that I keep coming

3: Ndiya Ndiya - DJ Cleo ft. Zulunaja

One of my favourite tracks of all time, regardless of style, genre, or any other kinds of labels. I first heard it on a friend's mom's DJ Cleo CD and it's stuck in my head since.

To me, the most standout element is how the drums and bassline are blended in a way that you can't really tell where one ends and the other begins. The swing, and lyrics uttered with a lazy-confident attitude are so infectious, and it's hard not to move around when the song is playing.

This is a track which will always be in my arsenal of dance floor numbers, regardless of the venue, club night, or more recently, Zoom party theme.

2: One Leg - Mina ft. Bryte (Surreal Sessions Remix)

Surreal Sessions have been all the talk in the South African nightlife scene in the last year or two. They've become regulars in the city's most frequented venues, synonymous with a stellar Gqom selection and DJ skills to match.

One Leg, originally produced by Mina (UK) and featuring Bryte (Ghana) on vocals, was remixed by Surreal Sessions in their unmistakable Cape Town Gqom style. It's a heavy hitter, and hearing it always takes me back to Surreal Sessions' Boiler Room set, which I feel is one of the most authentic displays of their incredible energy and talent.

Basslines have always been my favourite element of the duo's production, as they're always an adventure. Strong, stout and explorative, and resolving in ways that feel conclusive, but remain looping in your head for days. I could go on for much longer about Surreal Sessions, but some things are better left to music to describe.

1: Maradona - Stiff Pap ft. SimmySimmyNya

Stiff Pap took me by surprise when I first discovered them. They came onto the scene with a future-kwaito / hip-hop / industrial sound which I was instantly taken by, and since then they've consistently remained different while exploring the most interesting parts of their sound palette.

Maradona is a high energy, trap-yet-not banger for lack of a more descriptive word. It's got all the energy I'm looking for when I'm looking for bass-heavy, almost aggressive music that still feels comforting in a weird way. Producer Jakinda's atmospheric sounds that wash over the base elements of the song are the cherry on top for me, adding a dystopian feeling to the already abrasive sounds of Stiff Pap's music.

Stiff Pap sums up a lot of the reasons I'm so excited about underground South African music. These are groups and movements I'll speak of for years and years to come, listening out with eager ears for the newest drops. We're so full to the brim with talent, you couldn't not get excited.

Enjoy the playlist xx