Oskido: The Godfather of Kalawa! – Idols SA

20 November 2020
On Sunday, the Idols SA singers perform their ‘My Kalawa cover’ – here’s a look at the amazing story of the label’s boss, Oskido!
Oskido and the Top 5

Whether you know him as Oscar Warona, Godzilla, The Big O or Oskido, the man is a living legend whose life reads like a fairytale!

In the nearly-free early ‘90s, he was selling boerewors rolls outside of Club Razzmatazz in Hillbrow when the DJ failed to pitch. He stepped up – and he’s been doling out delicious sounds ever since.

Inspired by the new sound of house music coming out of the US, he launched the Kalawa label with Christos Katsaitis and Don Laka, and alongside Arthur pioneered the style that became known as kwaito.

Kalawa artists at the time included Boom Shaka, Bongo Maffin, Alaska and Thebe, and following a merger between Oskido and Spikiri, Mahoota and others, the Kalawa Jazmee label was born.

It’s been home to some of the most forward-thinking music in Mzansi: the likes of Black Motion, Busiswa, Mafikizolo and DJ Zinhle (whose ‘Indlovu’, a collab with former Idol Loyiso, will get a workout on Sunday from Brandon).

Kalawa Jazmee is also home to most of Oskido’s own music alongside Bruce ‘Dope’ Sebitlo as Brothers of Peace. Following forays into kwaito – the likes of the much-loved ‘Traffic Cop’ – the duo turned to a brand of Afro-house that was nothing short of revelatory.

Brothers of Peace’s “Zabalaza” was a global anthem thanks to a release from New York’s Louie Vega – and it was the world's first introduction to the vuvuzela!

Last year, on his solo ‘Akhiwe’ album, he incorporated the exciting sound of amapiano into his work – but in an all-together Oskido way, and one that lyrically looked back to the kwaito era.

Far from an appropriation of amapiano, Oskido blended it with his signature classy, jazzy sound cinematics, and he brought some of the scene’s most progressive proponents with him, including Kabza De Small and MFR Souls.

As Oskido remarked, “Amapiano itself is derived from kwaito – the grooves and the chants – and the midtempo sound of Glen Lewis or DJ Kanunu. Only the drum pattern has changed.”

All this history doesn’t even take in his work as a DJ! Alongside the ‘Fresh House Flava’ series from DJ Fresh, ‘Oskido’s Church Grooves’ CDs were amongst the defining Mzansi house compilations, and he’s been a regular on YFM since the station’s launch.

We can’t think of a better mentor for our Idols SA winner!

Season 16 of Idols SA broadcasts on Sundays at 17:00 on Mzansi Magic Channel 161. Get exclusive updates and a behind the scenes look at all the action right here on our site. Don't forget to join the conversation by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IdolsSA.