In the music world, the word classic makes reference to time and reception as factors. The word anthem on the other hand refers more to relevance and representation. Deeming a record as a classic is subjective, music tastes and opinions differ. Contrarily, anthems are arguably less subjective but rather self-elected in nature. Not all classics are anthems and not all anthems are classics – subjective, remember.
In Monwa and Sun’s Orlando Hangover however, I think we have both. The song has crossed generations and maintained enough popularity to be considered classic and it continues to act as reference in certain contexts hence can be considered an anthem. Let’s chat a bit more the song in question and the men behind it!
… but before we get into that, did you know the phrase ‘Via Orlando’ in the song was actually making reference to ‘V.O’ brandy/whiskey, that puts the song in much better perspective, right?
Monwa and Sun
Monwabisi Dennis Yekani or simply, Monwa, is credited as being the initiator of the performing duo, Monwa and Sun. As a duo Monwa and Sun released their two and only studio albums under the now defunct Cool Spot Label, a record label formed by Ken Haycock and legendary master producer and songwriter Mally Watson. The label was named after Brenda Fassie’s eponymous 1985 EP by MaBrr herself, and has been recording home to the likes of Doc Shebeleza, Penny Penny, Sammy Malete and Steve Kekana over its life-span.
Monwa and Sun’s debut album Majekeje(1988) which featured the aforementioned Orlando Hangover was the first ever Cool Spot Label release. The duo’s spell only lasted for two years with the album Tigers Don’t Cry(1989) being their second and final before they both went solo. From a sound point of view I would describe Majekeje as forming part of the then – late 80s – transitioning South African bubblegum sound, while Tigers Don’t Cry sounded a lot more experimental and can even be seen as an early sample of the later emerged Kwaito sound.
Now, Monwa is said to have been a seasoned musician by the time Monwa and Sun came along – though there is no record of any work of his pre the duo days. Apart from wearing hats as performer and artist, Monwa is also credited as writer of all the duo’s songs including Orlando Hangover where he sang lead. Post Monwa and Sun, Monwa went on to release a number of solo projects across the 90s and early 2000s for both Cool Spot Label and Tusk Music. With little to no record of activity, it seems in the later years of his career Monwa has settled for roles in production most interestingly appearing on producer credits for the album Where Were You?(2012) by T-Z Deluxe – a duo comprising Tumi ‘Stogie T’ Molekane and Zubz.
So, to have a “duo” we need two people, right? Russell Poth Nkotsoe also known as Sun, was the other half of Monwa and Sun. Sun’s work as part of the duo was his earliest and possibly first work as an artist given his young age at the time. Post Monwa and Sun, Sun moved on to begin his solo career at Tusk Music where he also explored his song writing and producing capabilities. At Tusk, Sun got to work with legendary South African composer and producer Selwyn Shandel and released 3 albums. His music weirdly played around with a techno/euro-house sound and constantly highlighted his husky yet soothing styled voice. Since then however Sun seems to have fallen down the radar.
Via Orlando… Mahoota?
In 2013, Mahoota alongside Dj Vetkuk and Dr Malinga released what I would term a “remake” of Orlando Hangover(1988) titled, Via Orlando. Via Orlando in addition to being a really good song that ranked much audience and popularity also went a long way in reigniting the nostalgia of the original but beyond that also introduced a whole new audience to the original song. If YouTube views are any measure to go by then Via Orlando was/is arguably as big if not bigger a hit than the original Orlando Hangover, but then again “subjective, remember”. The one downside to this release however was the copyright disputes.
Abuti Vally on Orlando Hangover…
I like the melodies and instruments used, they give it a nostalgic euphoric vibe. The remade version – Mahoota’s – only compels me to dance profusely, rather than also offering the option to sit back and soak in the atmosphere like the original does.
There’s no rush to the pacing and following it is as simple as doing a two-step dance. I do love the the “oooooooh-ooohh-oooh” background vocals, that sound is replaced by synths in the remake version (still good but not the same though).
What’s interesting is that the lyrics are morbid in comparison to how it sounds when you don’t read into them, it reminds me of the song Ngafa by Shwi No Mtekhala which sounds like a really beautiful traditional song until you actually translate it and understand the dark meaning behind it.
Overall the presentation is great. The song is catchy, well mixed and memorable!
…, on Mahoota’s reimagination…
I was never a huge fan of the melody/sound that happens between the chorus. It always made the song feel like two different concepts that were married together. But then again, I’ve never heard anyone else complain about this, and it has kinda grown on me. People associate it with a really good beat drop and I can vibe with that.
It’s definitely more lively, pays tribute to the original in a lot of subtle ways and has a strong vocal performance by Dr Malinga. The drums remind of My Name Is by Dj Zinhle, they are lovely, moreover during that era of house music.
Overall Mahoota vs Vetkuk’s version strikes a good reimagining of an old favourite from yesteryear in a way that appeals to both newer and older generations while also being able to stand it’s own ground against modern tracks of its time.
Both tracks have the nostalgia factor their side, but strangely I’m more affected by the original more even though I heard it well after the remake.