Gqom goes global.
There's a theory that, thanks to the instant accessibility and sharing culture of the internet, the conditions for forming stable new genres are no longer there. Sounds aren't allowed to develop slowly in a single location, only reaching the wider world when its aesthetics are fully formed. This makes a genre like gqom hit especially hard. This is a style of tense, hypnotic club music that's been brewing in Durban townships for the past decade, and recently reached Western audiences through labels like Goon Club All Stars and Gqom Oh! As Nan Kolè, the Italian DJ behind Gqom Oh!, and DJ Lag, one of the genre's biggest stars, explained in this live Exchange at Unsound Festival, gqom comes from a thriving and fascinating local scene. Like house music generally in South Africa, it's reached people of all walks of life in Durban. The city's taxis played a large role in its ascent, blasting the best new gqom tracks as a way of attracting customers. The music, heard at hot, ecstasy-fueled parties in Durban townships, is spread through a tangled network of mp3 sites, Facebook groups and WhatsApp threads. Lag and Kolè told RA editor Ryan Keeling the story of gqom's journey up to this point, while considering the effect that global exposure would have on the sound.