The Mixtape Vol. 99

Raphasosyk wants to spread the sounds of his heritage throughout the house scene

Teddy Rapha Masuku is a proud member of the Tumbuka Tribe of Northern Malawi, where music and dance are an integral part of the culture. Raised in Harare, he spent much of his teens experimenting with soulful Motown samples while making hip hop beats, after which he found himself in South Africa’s colourful club culture.

As an underground member of the local music scene, Raphasosyk, as he’s known musically, wants to spread the infectious sounds of his heritage throughout the South African and global house music scene.

“I really believe that the more we connect and resonate through music, the more we grow. I have become a student of Afrikan music and wish to collaborate with artists – new and established, local and international – to explore the tantalising prospects of a Neo Afrikan Renaissance in art and music. It’s time that the world learnt of our stories, from us, the source.”

Read our interview with Raphasosyk after the jump.

What's the story behind your DJ name, Raphasosyk?

I had to dig deep to remember this... Basically, I got the name Raphael a long time ago because my personality was much like Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. "Raphael is cool but rude". This was cool because it also tied in with my favourite colour, red. The "SOSYK" well that, I'm still not entirely sure of. It's probably some weird humble brag, "Rapha is So Sick with the beats"?

You’ve lived all over Southern Africa, how has this influenced your music?

I think living in these places made me realise how diverse Afrikan music is. Yet to my surprise I discovered that all my musical influences in the locations I resided in had three underpinning similarities: they all had rhythm, melody and, most importantly, conveyed a narrative. These three elements have greatly affected me. More and more, I resonate with songs that have a meaningful story behind them. And hence I have challenged myself to try and tell more stories through my mixes and my productions.

What’s your opinion on that term "world music"?

Honestly, I think the term "world music" is a bit limiting. It's as though the people who came up with it recognised there were musical sounds beyond what they are used to, but they were unwilling to delve deeper into discovering the intricacies, the history, the composers and the stories behind the various sounds outside their realm. They just decided to bundle them all them together, lazily, in this ill-defined genre known as "world music", which is a bit unfair on those that make music of a non-Eurocentric nature.

How does your personality and heritage come through via your music?

I think my intense interest in technology (video games and programming) and art plays a major role. I've really fallen in love with my heritage in the last few years, as I have realised that in this new age many things are very Western influenced. I periodically ask myself "What am I doing to tell my Afrikan story and more specifically, my Tumbuka story?" My sound is a meeting of these elements (technology, art and heritage) with a dash of Afro Futurism and Afro Surrealism. And thus I have arrived at my carefully curated sound that I tentatively describe as Afro-infused rhythms with synthesized melodies, always incorporating "the first instrument". I feel that the human voice is an integral part of any musical experience. It gives the music a soul.

Which clubs do you regularly play at and where can we catch your sets?

I regularly play at Julep and Bazinga just off Long Street, here in Cape Town as part of the LVSLDP (Love.Soul.Deep) Movement. I occasionally play at Unik in Claremont. This year, however, it looks like you will catch me mostly at Deuce Bar, fast becoming a home for underground music. I also do mixes for The Late Show on GoodHopeFM.

With Cape Town Jazz Festival coming up at the end of the month, what or who are you most excited for and why?

Wow, where do I even begin? The lineup is fantastically diverse, I have quite a few acts I am looking forward to. I'm excited to checkout The Internet and Tom Misch because they bring that new school neo-soul vibe. I'm also keen to see Digable Planets perform live as I remember my older brother introducing me to their style of laid back jazzy hip hop back in the 90s. He had a cassette tape featuring their signature track 'Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)'. I also can't miss Kamasi Washington because his style of new wave cosmic jazz has been an inspiration of mine lately! Then I'm hoping to catch the living legend Judith Sephuma as well as the captivating songstress, Laura Mvula. I love how both of them have put their own specific twist on what soulful Afrikan vocals can sound like.

And then, finally, please tell us about the mix you’ve made for The Way of Us.

I think The Way of Us really called out to me as it sounds like a statement proclaiming diversity and inclusion. With that in mind, I made a mix that showcases my musical taste and also reflects a bit of variety in terms of sounds. It starts off very percussive and rhythmic with a signature Afrikan flavour. As the mix progresses, it gets more soulful and vocal, and slowly but surely the becomes more techy in nature with hypnotic synths being emphasized. The mix features music from the likes of Jullian Gomes, Sio, The Black 80s, Dennis Ferrer, Ben Westbeech, OMEN, The Lazurusman, Frankey and Sandrino, Shur-I-Kan, Fritz Zander, Lay-Far and my hero, the prolific, Atjazz.