Musings with DJ turned Entrepreneur Albert Bashmouth
Renowned Radio and Festival DJ Albert Zanganembo, known as DJ Bashmouth, is a proud owner of the club NOT SO FAMOUS located in Observatory, the trendy and party area of Cape Town. It is a two sectioned place with a classy restaurant, Bar & a very colorful exciting Caribbean themed open deck at the backside of the place. After years of saving and long hours of work, Albert joined forces with his friends and together they became owners of this establishment. It was a critical period for him as he was trying to balance his DJ’ing career, side hustles, his family, and now business. He is also a Tourist Guide, Music Promoter and AV Technician.
His other hustle is in Graphic Design specialising in Posters, Flyers, Motion Flyers and Album Art Covers. “I’ve been a graphic designer since 2012” he explains, “but I was mainly focusing on my own work until 4 years ago when I started doing graphics for other companies and individuals.
Now he has shifted his focus a bit, towards contributing to the entertainment industry, as he is also part of the Newly established Creative Arts Seminar. When HAVOC ZW known as Blessing Jena approached him about using the venue, NOT SO FAMOUS, for a creative seminar that he (Blessing Jena) was working on. It was still an idea then that would later be actualised with Bashmouth being fully part of it, not just renting the venue, but an organising member of the team.
The Creative Arts Seminar is about creating a platform for creatives to meet, exchange ideas, network and most importantly find solutions to the problems faced within the industry. It is all about teaching and promoting artists with ideas, focusing on Fashion Designers, Music Producers, Artists, Bands, Musicians, DJs, Sound Engineers, Sound System hires and more.
His mood lights up when he talks about the seminar and explains in detail the objectives of the Seminar:
“The seminar was focusing on how to promote the work that we do through Digital media. *The challenges that artists faces and how to tackle them *The evolving of times and technology, on how to take advantage of technology promoting our work *The power of working together *Supporting local art and business *Converting arts into business *Targeting of global market in arts and many more”
The inaugural seminar took place in Cape Town in May 2023 and already plans are in place for the follow-up in Johannesburg.
Running the Club and now being the organiser of the Seminar, one would think that DJ Bashmouth has his hands full, but it does not stop there. He continues to do what he loves, being a DJ. Although it’s hectic and rough juggling all these ventures, he continues to get booked as a DJ. He plays at Bush Radio – where he held his Thursday slot “Level Di Vibes” bussing out new talents and interviewing Cape Town’s finest – on a part time basis. He is considering going back to radio to take his show to a bigger station to reach a wider audience.
Being a forward thinking person that he is and one who is fully dedicated to his craft, he does not rely only on Reggae Dancehall gigs, he takes time out to explore, learn from other people in other genres, and uses what he has learned and convert it into the Reggae scene and also to improve on his craft.
“I DJ for all kinds of people depending on what type of an event and lately I’ve been mainly focusing on corporate ones.” He explains further: “As for bookings I just don’t wait for reggae gigs to get booked of which they are very limited so I utilize my skills in other genres hence i end up getting bookings.”
Times are changing and DJ Bashmouth is moving right along with them. “There’s a lot of changes around, “ he explains, “from sound, genres, crowds and age groups. Most guys of my generation have grown up which makes it impossible to party at certain times of the night. So overly it’s just the times that have changed that is why we are now also working with some young talented youths like Selector Ballas & Slotah Di Chanter. “
There have been other changes due to the evolving times and technology. Bashmouth feels that the world is now focusing on Africa which has brought so much attention and African Reggae is in the process of taking advantage of this spotlight to be recognized. The changes and attention is coming and appreciated from outside the continent, the strife seen happening locally, within the continent leaves a lot to be desired. As an observer and one who feels strongly about Reggae and Africa, he sums it up like this: “It’s a bit sad for me to watch” referring to Cape Town where he is based, “I’ve seen the division growing and yet we were supposed to pass the unity to the upcoming generation. I know This division is not by choice but caused by different interests, beliefs, community problems, lack of events that used to unite people and most importantly hierarchy and guidance” What then should happen, how can this division change to unity so that we can also start appreciating the attention and the focus. Bashmouth says: “I personally would like to see more unified events from street ones, clubs, festivals. In Terms of talent we need more workshops that will help nature artists. Our artists are remaining behind because they are still maintaining old school way of doing things which is not really keeping up with the times, they need to improve on that.”
Its not only the technology that is changing but the cultural landscape on which Reggae Dancehall are operating from. The surge of AfroBeats and Amapiano on the global stages has somehow cast a huge shadow on other genres including Reggae and Dancehall. It’s no longer debatable but acceptable that these two genres are leading the global sounds. DJ Bashmouth says he feels a bit like a coward to the Reggae massive when he plays sets that are Afrobeats and has temporarily put Reggae on pause, ‘due to the high demand of Afrobeats’. As a music man, a family man who has to pay bills and a businessman, he plays what is on demand. Although he feels that things could have turned out differently had Reggae got enough sponsorship, equal airplay on radio and TV 10 plus years ago.
On Reggae Dancehall Artists dabbling into Afrobeats and/or Amapiano, DJ Bashmouth offers a quirky perspective: “The good thing about how this sounds is the fact that you are still describing them as Reggae Dancehall artists *laughs* There’s nothing wrong with that (Dancehall artists doing other genres) especially on AfroBeats because AfroBeats has 60 to 80% if not 90% elements of Dancehall. So this could be another hidden evolution of music. After all there are quick returns in AfroBeats and a large following globally, so I support those artists taking that direction.” He goes on to add, “Amapiano and Afrobeats are doing wonders why can’t we do the same in Reggae. There are enough resources to grow reggae in this country, we only need the right player to do the work.”
I wish Mzansi Reggae artists could adjust a little bit and move with time as what other artists do. There is so much talent in this country but it is dying prematurely because of how people handle themselves and their work.”
As a well versed DJ in both ZimDancehall and Mzansi Reggae Dancehall,we asked him what his take on the two siblings is. What are the differences or commonalities if any, What can each learn from each other and What can be done to improve relations between these two?
“Your question is a living testimony of what is going on right now on Amapiano between Zimbabwe and South Africa, every week there is 1 or 2 amapiano artists/ DJS performing in Zimbabwe. Mzansi Reggae Dancehall artists need to commercialize their sound, most importantly they need to separate rastafarian culture from music business. If you look at most successful Reggae artists who are not too deep into Rastafari “and this is not a jab at Rastafari as a principle, but simply an observation’ – it is something people need to understand.
ZimDancehall artists engage with their communities and have managed to convince other people with their sound and lyrics to be accepted in the community and airplay. Mzansi artists need to fight hard to get airplay on commercial radio, performing in clubs and festivals, organizing more shows, and building a good following through annual events before they engage with sponsors.”
What about the artists, Who does he think are currently leading the pack? He did not hesitate to pick his current Top Five. In Mzansi he cites: Crosby Bolani, Bongo Riot, Jah Link, Anela Jamela and Don Franco Tafari. Crosby will always be ahead because of how he keeps himself relevant locally and internationally and still able to organise his own shows promoting other local artists. I see myself in him
Jah Link is also pushing hard focusing more on production, with most of his work being found on USA and Jamaican platforms..
Don Franco is simply exceptional with his hard work and still maintaining the original sound of reggae music doing collaboration with Jamaican artists.
In Zim he cited Nutty O, Winky D (who are featured on the massive Africa Unite Album, a remake of Bob Marley songs into Afrobeat scheduled for release in August) Freeman, Poptain, Enzo Ishall.
Freeman is leading and still maintaining from 12 years ago when I started working with him.
He recently won 4 ZIM AWARDS, 3 NAMA AWARDS and 3 STAR FM AWARDS just this year alone.
DJ Bashmouth has been on the scene long enough to come up with these nuanced observations. It is quite obvious that we will be hearing a lot more from him and he is consistent, has calculative moves, coupled with passion, patience and most importantly, understanding the level field that he operates in. This family man, the father of two daughters – Tamika 9 and Aunica 5 – has made much contribution to the culture and will continue to do so, even though sometimes he gets too busy and is unable to spend more time with them, he knows he is doing this for them, building a legacy and creating generational wealth, it will be worth it in the long run. Nevertheless he always does the most whenever he makes time with them. “They’ve grown to understand my way of working.”
Catch the latest mixes from Bashmouth on his YT Channel