Mmegi Online :: T.H.A.B.O, and that 'untshwarable' factor
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Last Updated
Friday 16 November 2018, 13:42 pm.
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T.H.A.B.O, and that 'untshwarable' factor

Staff writer TSHIRELETSO MOTLOGELWA catches up with the Motswako/Kwaito maestro behind the party and football match anthem
By Staff Writer Mon 19 Nov 2018, 08:05 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: T.H.A.B.O, and that 'untshwarable' factor








There is a word doing the rounds in street lingo: "untshwarable". It is credit to Motswako man T.H.A.B.O that a word has been so fed, even force-fed, such a rowdy and rebellious collection as the young clubbers, the hedonist partygoers, the kombi conductors and the urban music connoisseurs.

Untshwarable is the name of T.H.A.B.O's latest offering and the name of the title track, which is currently in heavy rotation locally.

Motswako has come to symbolize sheer audacity for its ability to mingle Hip Hop, Kwaito, House and even Setswana Folk music into such a respectable form. In the process the form has become the soundtrack to young Botswana.

Untshwarable is perhaps in its own way a summary of all that is genuine about the music scene, bringing up as it does ideas of rebelliousness, braggadocio, crass creativity, and perhaps in its symbolism images of mugging, pig-headed individualism and youthful abandon. The word is a take on English that transgresses the English language's strict syntax as much as it proudly mangles Setswana inflexible vocabulary. Un, the prefix means "opposite". Tshwara means to "touch" and 'ble" the suffix is added to a verb when it is turned into an adjective. 

Motswako is about breaking the rules, but even the man who is adept at that had to question whether he had not gone too far as the word coiled through his brain.

"I was wondering if B.K. would accept the idea for the song. I thought he would laugh at the whole "untshwarable" concept. I said, and he said it was very cool," explains T.H.A.B.O.

T.H.A.B.O whose real name is Thabo Benson Bolokwe has been around the music scene for at least a decade now, having been part of the defunct hit-producing Motswako pioneers T-Joint. He looks much older now both musically and physically.

A moustache, a round face and a much more bulkier body. It is however at the artistic level that he has really gained from what Buju Bunton called "the passage of time".

Untshwarable comes much more mature and exemplifies the work of an artist who has become more confident of his voice. But of course the best way to enjoy it is not through your headphones, "Motswako ga o reediwe jalo" as one friend once said, but through your music system at its loudest.

In the title track the bassline growls. In the meantime THABO advises against the vices that have become so ingrained in the music industry. According to the lyrics the industry is replete with rip offs, sophistry, double-dealings, back stabbings, and individuals ready to cheat artists of their dues. But lodged within that bleak view, there is another theme, the one that expresses the confidence to fight the odds. And above that there is the occasional braggadocio, "untshwarable" meaning "untouchable". It is pure bragging but as Mohammed Ali said, "It ain't bragging if you can prove

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it".

However at the heart of the music is the feel good factor. Motswako is for blasting in your music system while you braai your meat and the first few drinks start to slowly sink down throats. It is not to be dissected and analysed in a Music Theory class. That is the type of song Untshwarable is.

In the remix THABO calls the new street poets in Nomadic, Zeus and HT alongside Tizzy, OBK, Steez, Kidface, Lex and BK Proctor.
HT goes:

Ga ke kgomege
Tshipi ga ke konege
Ba lekile go mpofa ga le bofege
Roba ga ke robege
Kgengwe ga ke lekege

And Zeus adds in that jabbing delivery:

See me I
Handle biz D.I.Y
So damn fly that I take a walk in the sky
Untshwarable
You must thought I'm gullible
Theres a lot of bull
The industry is full of fools
With more egos
Than they have talent

It is a sheer force of talent that BK Proctor has assembled in the remix that says Basement Records is poised for something greater. He has signed HT, Dice, the R & B artist Brando and THABO. But Proctor, at 22, has already produced tracks for some of the biggest names around: Nomadic, Buckshot, HT, Orackle, Vee, Steez, Sta Luu and Geto Flava.

At the Basement Studio offices, just above the famous fast food joint Pop-Inn Producer BK Proctor sits in a small chair with a laptop before him.

Steez and THABO exchange banter while Steez pages through a newspaper. But BK Proctor is a quiet man and he does not want to intervene in the conversation, preferring to just facilitate the discussion with a few pages and a few CDs when needed.

"Proctor is the best producer in the country," announces THABO as we walk into the studio. Proctor smiles shyly and keeps quiet. Steez stands by the front desk reading a newspaper cap tilted to the side.

Inside the studio THABO leans against a small table, upon which giant speakers, a keyboard and a collection of CDs sit.

THABO says he has learned a lot from his nearly two decades of music experience. "I think the local industry has come of age. We see that local artists sell out shows without the input of South Africans. Furthermore we have discovered that there is nothing special about some of those South African artists anyway" cuts THABO.

The man whose musical journey took him from T-Joint through Skizo-production of Son Of The Soil, through Universal Music-done deals for the Ko Moketeng project, has now found a home at Basement Records. "I think this is where I belong. I could have been here all along but then again God works in mysterious ways, he had his own reason for me to be travelling around before coming here," he adds.

He folds his arms, puts on a wry smile, the way those Mafia boys do after they complete a hit, "untshwarable".

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