Adaku Nwakanma

A budding photographer and enthusiastic storyteller, Adaku enjoys deep and open conversations spanning a wide range of topics, with focus on women, governance, emotional and mental health, and Africa.

Awesome Tapes From Africa to reissue Professor Rhythm’s 1991 album, ‘Professor 3’

Awesome Tapes From Africa is giving another Professor Rhythm album a reissue in June. Following the re-release of Professor Rhythm’s Bafana Bafana last year, the South African artist’s 1991 LP is set to hit the market again on June 1st.

The largely instrumental album, which blends kwaito, mbaqanga pop and house, was initially released on vinyl and cassette and was recorded in Johannesburg as apartheid was ending in South Africa. It was meant to serve a positive force in black and South African communities.

Professor Rhythm is an alias of Thami Mduli, a prolific musician and producer in the Rainbow Nation, who was previously a member of Taboo and CJB.

Poster from Bafana Bafana.

Mdluli became an in-demand producer for influential artists like Sox and Sensations, among many others, and an in-house producer for record companies like Eric Frisch and Tusk. Mdluli usually featured an instrumental dance track of his on projects which became widely popular. Fans demanded to hear more of these backing tracks without vocals and so Mdluli began to make solo instrumental albums, developing his own distinct style during the 80s and 90s as Professor Rhythm, a name bestowed on him by fans.

Awesome Tapes From Africa, Brian Shimkovitz’s label, will put out the South African artist’s Professor 3 LP, originally released in 1991, introducing, once again, the classic house grooves of Professor Rhythm.

Earlier in October 2017, the label gave Professor Rhythm’s album Bafana Bafana new life. Originally released in 1995, the LP includes eight tracks focusing on kwaito, a genre that emerged in South Africa that fuses house rhythms with African textures, tracks that still continue to work magic on the dancefloor.

Poster from Professor 3

Mdluli describes making music in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s: “If you could imagine living in a time where you were barred from doing much, the only way one could unite masses without the government thinking a group of Africans was up to no good was to celebrate in dance and music via discos and music festivals… and shoo did we pull a crowd!”

Distributed primarily on tape when it was released, Professor 3 sold 20,000 copies on vinyl, and close to 100,000 on cassette. According to Mduli, “Our music gave hope to the hopeless… 1991, ’92, ’93… Mandela was released. People were upbeat, they were happy, the music was good.”

In the mid-1990s, Miduli became a gospel singer, which is what he is best known for today.

Awesome Tapes From Africa will release Professor 3, available for the first time outside of South Africa, on 1 June, 2018.