Spoek Mathambo makes the Afro-futurists look old school. With the arrival of his second album, Father Creeper, he’s one man building up an army to make his creative visions reality, rewriting any artistic laws in his way.
The title Father Creeper is a reference to a classic in the world of sleazy South African tv jingles (it is by pure coincident that the ditty is sung by the fiercely named, obscure rogue of a lounge singer, Kalashnikov).
Johannesburg’s Spoek Mathambo (real name: Nthato Mokgata) first hotwired our world with a series of collaborative projects – Sweat X, Playdoe – that placed his smart, dirty vocals on top of electro-rap bangers that activated dancefloors across the globe. Things went darker and deeper with his 2010 debut album, Mshini Wam (translation: ‘bring me my machine’), a record which took Spoek’s love affair with South African culture and his coined ”township tech” as a starting point. As always, he pulled those influences in a direction all his own (think: a pitched-down wobble-house cover of Joy Divisions “She’s Lost Control”). Mathambo topped things off with a grip of visually thrilling videos depicting a fresh-to- death urban gothic vibe, not to mention months of touring across US, Europe, and South America.
Father Creeper took shape during that tour time. Mathambo got started doing hands-on audio production during long days on the road with Copenhagen-based musician CHLLNGR. They began with haunting lyrics about the conflict diamonds, penned by Mathambo’s wife Ana Rab (aka Gnucci Bananaa), fleshing out the verses into an epic, synth-driven post-dubstep heater. “Put Some Red On It” would become Father Creeper’s first single.
Inspired and confident, Mathambo put international collabo offers on pause as he regrouped to make his second album with a close cadre of family and friends. A distant uncle phoned “Nthato, I hear you’re making music! I myself am an electronic music composer!” – within days they were in the lab, crafting beats. Mathambo’s live band, Mshini Wam, honed new tracks while on tour. Back in Jo’Burg, Spoek called in childhood buddy, pianist Theo Tuge (their grandmothers kicked it back in the day) as musical co-director for the entire project. Tuge and Mathambo were choirboys when they were 12 years old – that’s 2 years after Spoek started rapping, and 2 years after Apartheid was dismantled.