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Skemshan – Biography

8 September 2003 One Comment

ALPHA, the debut album from this 4 man Kwaito group marks the results of 18 months of effort. But the road to recognition goes back much further than that.

“We have always wanted to do this but somehow things didn’t always work out for us”. As much as SKEMSHAN believes that talent is what it takes to make it in this business, they also think that luck has got a lot do with it. Even though they are really appreciative that their time has finally come, they feel that this moment is long overdue. “Too many artists are there for the wrong reasons, we don’t have any real connections in the industry, we’re here to contribute to the industry with good music, lyrics that are relevant to our lives and songs that make sense,”

SKEMSHAN credits a large part of this break to a producer who goes by the name of Cleo The HAFPIPE. HAFPIPE got hold of a demo tape SKEMSHAN had done and along with his colleagues at Zahwa Records, they decided to sign them. 

“Zahwa Records were also searching for a Kwaito group and they decided to sign us because we were better than all the other groups they had listened to”. SKEMSHAN believes that it is this type of confidence that has brought them this far and that will get them to survive in this cutthroat industry. 

ALPHA, was produced in its entirety by Cleo The HAFPIPE. The album opens up with a club banger, On My Own, which samples an old Patti La Belle classic of the same title. This is a Kwaito love song. The boys felt that there weren’t enough of those around so they decided to record this song. The album also features a remix version. The remix features a live guitarist by the name of Gavin Langerveldt, who adds a Santana-like feel the song.

The boys found it very important to add songs that would have some messages of encouragement in the community. This is evident in songs like Shova Lova, which highlights the importance of hard work in the townships. “We wanted to motivate the people and tell them to be persistent and not give up.” Ihashi Lomjaho talks about the persistent problem of promiscuity in the townships. It addresses the way young girls are sleeping around with all these older men. How young girls have lost their values and how they place material things so highly.

In the song Ngingedwa Mina, SKEMSHAN talks about lost relationships. This song is about how friends can become enemies and strangers all at once. This is what SKEMSHAN say they went through during this journey of trying to make it in this music industry. 

Even though SKEMSHAN lost a number of friends along the way, they are thankful that their friendship with the kwaito group Chiskop is still intact. In fact, three of the members of SKEMSHAN are related to Mandoza. They really learnt a lot from Chiskop and received a lot of helpful and insightful information from them. 

As much as they would’ve liked to work with Chiskop on this album they felt they wanted to first make their mark in the industry whilst creating their own identity. 

SKEMSHAN did however work with other artists on the album. “Some of our tracks needed some female vocals and we were fortunate enough to have Nhlanhla and Maduba come to the studio”. Nhlanhla and Maduba are members of the popular gospel group called Joyous Celebration. SKEMSHAN felt very honoured to have such critically acclaimed musicians on their album. 

All the members of SKEMSHAN were born and raised in Chiawelo, Soweto. Which is where they came up with their name. The word is derived from two words, 
1. Skeem, which means clique, crew, posse, gang etc.
2. And amagemshane, which was a type of gang in the townships.

ALPHA marks the beginning for SKEMSHAN hence the title. With their passion for music and hard work, they’ll definitely be around for a long time to come.

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