Cape Town’s OBie Mavuso is a black and queer artist making a stand against the perception of alternative (specifically non-straight or non-male) artists in South Africa, and she has the songs to back her up.
The 25-year-old songwriter, filmmaker, and curator of Jam That Session and Queers On Smash, is a self-described “hip-hop soul singer” who sings over minimalist beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Life Of Pablo. On “Cosmic Fire,” my favorite Mavuso track so far, she sings like a mellow Laura Mvula under a Jamie xx-like beat. But her refusal to be boxed into any one genre reflects her mission to make South Africa’s very straight and very male music scene more inclusive.
“I think it’s up to me to try and change how people view the ‘alternative’ being,” Mavuso tells Okayafrica. “Power dynamics are something that the local scene is still struggling with. Change is not easy to accept, but promoters and the media can start by including a wider range of musicians and artists in their line ups and write ups.”
Mavuso describes her latest release, the three-track EP Cosmic Fire, as “A journey through my mind and being, barely making sense of things, but so aware of things that have to change, and things I can change.”