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06th Oct 2018

Black Coffee says his streaming service for African music is ready to launch

Will Lavin

It’s been in the works for four years but the South African producer says his music streaming service should finally be here by the end of the month

Black Coffee is South Africa.

He lives and breathes his heritage and promotes it proudly on a day to day basis when the music he takes around the world with him is enjoyed by people of all different backgrounds.

Happy with the fact African music has blown up internationally but unhappy with the way the artists behind the music have been compensated, Black Coffee for the past four years has been working on something to even out the playing field.

Wanting to promote up-and-coming African artists and feed the music they make to the world through his much-anticipated GongBox streaming app, the DJ/producer whose song “Superman” was flipped by Drake for his More Life project, is ready to launch the app at the end of this month.

“It won’t be based on contracts with different labels because we own our masters,” he said, talking to us backstage at Hï Ibiza where he’s hosted a weekly residency this past summer. “Basically we’re creating a whole new thing for African music, a place where the music will always live.”

In Black Coffee’s eyes the reason African music is just now gaining notoriety on a commercial scale has everything to do with vision, or a lack thereof.

“I was talking to Wizkid recently and we were having a conversation about African music and how big it is right now,” he said recalling a recent studio session with the Nigerian superstar in London.

“What I was saying to him was that sure, he’s huge and he sells out shows. He’ll go to New York and sell out a show. He sold out The O2 in London. But the thing is he’ll sell out The O2 to Nigerians based in London.

“It’s the same in New York, it’s the same in DC and wherever else he goes because there’s always big communities of African people in all of these places. And because he’s selling out these shows he’s doing great, and because of that it’s very easy to get comfortable. 

“And then every now and then a Drake will come along and say: ‘Hey, come on my song Wizkid,’ because they’re looking for that flavour. Then it’s done and they move on but then you still stay in that same space.

“So for me I just think what’s been missing is vision. I’m talking about those who are willing though because not everyone wants to be on a song with Bono, or Drake, or whoever. So I just feel like it’s vision. To be able to think, ‘Okay, I want to be on a song with so and so, and I’m willing to dilute my music to have a greater reach.’

“In a club in New York you’ll hear Drake, you’ll hear Wizkid, you’ll hear JAY-Z, you’ll hear Kanye [West], you know? And it takes vision to get to that space where even the producers you work with are gonna come and give an influence, or even the writers you’re working with are gonna come and give an influence, and then you can expose yourself to a bigger market.”

So much like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YouTube, etc, but just tailored more towards the African market, GongBox will offer a wide range of music and accompanying materials to subscribers. But more than that, it’s about community and giving African artists more exposure in all corners of the world.

“It’s going to be the home of music for the artists,” Black Coffee explained. “So wherever you are in the world if you’re looking for African music you can just go to one place. Whether it’s house or African pop or whatever you wanna hear, it’ll be there.

“We’re basically dismantling an industry and starting off fresh.”

Black Coffee is set to deliver the closing party of all closing parties at Hï Ibiza on Saturday October 6th. For more information and tickets visit: