“Aggressive, poetic, artistic, different. These are words that come up often when discussing DJ Lag’s contribution to the South African phenomenon known as Gqom. Unmatched in his ascent from rebellious bedroom beatmaker to his success abroad, reflected in the self-assigned moniker “international pantsula”, to being crowned “Gqom King”, it seems DJ Lag’s trajectory has been more expansionist and flag-bearing as opposed to the sort of aggression a young, Black man would need to be equipped with, in order to survive Durban township life. Uttering his name as far as Berlin, London or Tokyo would be returned with knowing nods, even as those closer to home remain ignorant to the steps he has taken to bring global attention to local sounds. Wrapping one’s tongue around “Gqom” itself can be quite difficult, let alone trying to describe the sound of it, however describing DJ Lag as a man has been even more challenging for those who have heard of Durban’s dark horse but have never met him. Rarely going live in his downtime or engaging fans in the comings and goings of his daily life, DJ Lag has remained fairly tight-lipped about his life beyond the music, and some of the highs and hurdles on the way toward this stellar time in his career.
In the past week, he’s returned with a generous new album in ‘Meeting with the King’ to mark his highest moment as a pioneering producer, combining the dynamism of amapiano ad-libs alongside producer Mr JazziQ as well as Lady Du and the late Mpura; the romance of Afro house with singer-songwriter Amanda Black, the freshness of burgeoning Gqomtech and reuniting with a heap of hometown collaborators in Babes Wodumo and Omagoqa, along with entrancing sonic stylings all his own. With the opening track aptly titled ‘Thongo Lami’, meaning ‘My Dream’, it’s plain to see that any good story often begins with the decision to turn the imagined into reality, and in this 15 track exploration, Lwazi Asanda Gwala (L-A-G) finally introduces us to the DJ Lag he’s always wanted to be.” Interview by: Shiba Melissa Mazaza
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