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Kwaito's PromiseMusic and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa$
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Gavin Steingo

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226362403

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226362687.001.0001

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Platform, or The Miracle of the Ordinary

Platform, or The Miracle of the Ordinary

(p.57) Three Platform, or The Miracle of the Ordinary
Kwaito's Promise

Gavin Steingo

University of Chicago Press

With the end of apartheid, black South Africans took control of the means of musical production. Musicians formed independent record labels known as “stables,” and kwaito exploded onto the national scene. The early post-apartheid period was marked, additionally, by a proliferation of voices reclaiming dignity after the veritable suspension of life during apartheid. As organizational and technological apparatuses, kwaito stables became the primary mechanism through which these newly emerging voices were distributed across the South African soundscape. In emic terms, these stables provided a “platform” for the dissemination of kwaito music. This chapter examines various kwaito platforms: not only kwaito stables (i.e., independent record labels), but also the radio station Yfm, the television show Yizo Yizo, and various other live and mediated performances contexts. I show that kwaito’s platforms produce an autonomous domain of sensory experience while simultaneously blurring the boundaries between experiential domains. This blurring results in what I call aesthetic undecidability, that is, the impossibility of discerning whether mediated sound and images exist “apart from” life or as “part of” life. In show, in brief, that platforms operationalize different registers of the ordinary, generating a zone of indistinction between the “normal ordinary,” the “very ordinary,” and the “extraordinary.”

Keywords:   media platform, undecidability, Yfm, transgender performance

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