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Culture, Music

Brown Dashed

by Ts'eliso Monaheng / 10.05.2012

The sad thing about kwaito, and one that needs to be rectified, is that no one seems genuinely interested in engaging critically with the music. Instead, writers tend to gravitate towards the mundane, lackadaisical non-news of gossip and nonsensical verbiage. So when news of Brown Dash’s (real name Simphiwe Mampile) passing started flooding twitter late yesterday afternoon, all one could think of was magazine exposés that featured an unhealthy looking Brown Dash claiming that he had recovered and was plotting his comeback.

Among the topics discussed was his impending battle with TS Records – one that included car repossessions and all other sorts of nonsense. No one, in our opinion, ever wrote a critical piece of how, sounding like a more rugged, rough version of M’du Masilela, Brown Dashed literally ‘dashed’ onto the South African music landscape, most notably on Mzekezeke’s debut “S’Guqa ngamadolo”, before going on an all-out assault and claiming the kwaito throne – at least momentarily.

So when news of his passing hit, and the inevitable RIP tweets and status updates followed, one could only think of an industry that had, once again, successfully managed to indirectly kill and maim one of its own, in much the same way that it killed Zombo, MaWillies, Sbu from Chiskop, Dr Mageu and so many other kwaito music figureheads who could have contributed much more than inches on gossip columns in raggedy newspaper weeklies. While the music may live on, the opportunity to engage in a meaningful way with the man’s music is lost forever.
City Press’s Charl Blignaut had the opportunity to interact briefly with Dash during his formative years, and had this to say regarding that pivotal period: “He was polite, quiet, I wouldn’t say overwhelmed – it was all new and a thing to pull off well, so he was focused.” But of course the inevitable high-road of consumption left many feeling that there was no limit, and as Charl puts it, “they were very sussed and self-assured.”

Brown Dash came of age in an era where the baton was being passed from M’du, Trompies, and TKZee to upstarts such as Zola, Brickz, and, to a lesser extent, Mzekezeke. It is a pity that his flame only burned for a short while.

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