E & S Brothers’ 1985 album Taduma holds a unique yet overlooked place in the history of South African dance music, the era of Bubblegum Music.
When Shadrack Ndlovu and Ernest Segeel teamed up with Dane Stevenson, owner of Blue Tree Studio in downtown Johannesburg, and journeyman producer Taso Stephanou, South Africa’s bubblegum era had just begun, spurred on by the success of Shangaan disco. The relative success of their debut 12″ “Don’t Bang The Taxi Door”, marketed aggressively at taxi ranks throughout the country, helped put the Blue Tree label on the map and E & S were invited back to record a full album: Taduma, featuring on keyboards Dr Buke, an in-demand session player from Soweto.
Rooted in Africa, yet purely electronic, Taduma was a moderate hit, spurred by tracks like “Taxi Door” and “Mhane,” its hypnotic refrain “Mhane, famba na wena” meaning “Mother, I am going to you”. Other tracks like “Mapantsula” and “Be Careful” place Taduma within the street-savvy “pantsula” style and dance synonymous with consecutive waves of music from disco to kwaito, house and beyond, while “Sikele Masike” repurposes a traditional Shangaan work song. Vocally E & S are closer to rapping than singing, in a combination of English and vernacular – predating other credited pioneers of kwaito in SA like Senyaka and Spokes H. Driving the music instead of vocals are waves of searing synths over rudimentary but explosive drum machine sounds – the word “Taduma” meaning the sound of the drum.