Life Changing Encounters: Encounters with the King of gqom, DJ Lag – Features

Growing up in the low-income township of Clermont, joining carjacking teams was the best way to earn a living, with many around him losing their lives to career crime when he chose to go into the business instead. dance, sports and music. A boyfriend of his mother’s noted his preoccupation with music and told him about some new software he could use to create his own sounds, so he decided to try emulating what he had heard in his favorite hip hop songs. At the time, he had just celebrated his 10th birthday.

Unable to afford decent equipment after his mother and young man separated, DJ Lag felt a lingering void until his mother decided to buy him a laptop in high school. Despite the lure of his peers seeking to impose their power in destructive ways, DJ Lag yearned to create; having spent years watching kwaito’s child star and family friend Msawawa releasing his first album at the age of 7 while their grandmothers were chatting together on the weekends. It is therefore not surprising that his own youth never appeared as an obstacle to his success. Over time, Msawawa’s legacy multiplied, as did DJ Lag’s desire to be seen as more than just an aimless product of his circumstances. He wanted to know what it was like to live beyond the confines of the classroom, to know more, to see and do more, and to be truly known.

Read next: The Cover Mix: DJ Lag

At the age of 19, DJ Lag understood that he had to stand out if he ever wanted to leave his mark. Eventually, his determination, laser-focus and composure led him to champion his own shrewd take on Gqom, harnessing his penchant for cavernous soundscapes in a way that seems to have taken everyone but him by surprise – surpassing by far those who were aiming for a place of importance in South Africa. competitive electronic music scene. DJ Lag saw the genre he had abandoned dominate the South African charts, but even then his faith in the guttural sounds of Gqom was unwavering. Upon the release of his 2016 self-titled EP on Goon Club Allstarscrowds abroad roared for him, with audiences at home in awe.

While the artists around him took every opportunity to preach their importance, DJ Lag let his music do the talking for him, coming from left field in league with local heroes of Moonchild Sanelly, Babes Wodumo and DJ Tira, eventually stepping out with the cream of the internationally acclaimed creative cultures in Diplo, Kelela and Beyoncé; while maintaining a sense of spectral detachment from the noisy machine of the music industry that he would constantly outrun.

Today, genres that have established themselves such as amapiano and afro house have experienced a resurgence that could be attributed to the first steps of this pioneer of Gqom, who over the years has literally traveled far and wide to make himself known. and its South African brand. house known all over the world. Until now, no other local act has featured in so many publications, secured so many partnerships, traveled to so many cities, and conquered so many milestones with a genre created in such a small ecosystem, with such a big impact as the his.

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