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Tsotsi Soundtrack
Artists: Zola (Bonginkosi Dlamini), Vusi Mahlasela, Khanyo Maphumulo, Brendan Drury, Barry van Zyl, Mark Kilian, Paul Hepker, and Unathi.
Label: Milan 31383-61562 (2005)
Running Length: 67 minutes
19 Tracks

Tsotsi is a film from South African that centers on six days in the life of a young gangster (Presley Chweneyagae). The man steals a woman’s car, unaware that her baby is in the back seat. What to do? Time is getting short. The film is based on Athol Fugard’s novel.

The soundtrack for Tsotsi has a South African flavor that combines rap with a unique percussion beat. Unfortunately, few of the songs are in the English language, and translations are not provided in the program notes. The last song, “Ghetto Scandalous” by Zola (and which is not in the movie) features profane language in a rap beat, but it is in English.

There are several standouts on this soundtrack. One is “Bhambatha”, with a strong melody sung by Zola and has a siren in the background. One can imagine that this is from a street scene. “Sgubhu Sam” sung by Unathi (and also not in the film) has a beautiful selection of female voices in a chorale arrangement. “Munt’Omnyama” sung by Mafilizolo, also has a chorale effect with good percussion. 

“Seven” by Zola is a song that flows evenly, as does the instrumental “On The Tracks” by Mark Kilian and Paul Hepker. Three other instrumental pieces by Kilian and Hapker, “Stolen Legs,” “Bye Bye Baby” and “Baby Handover” are easy-going and in contrast to the other rhythmic music on the CD. Vocal soloist, Vusi Mahlasela is memorable on “Bye Bye Baby” and “E Sale Noka,” which is sung in English. A bit of humor is injected here with “Woof Woof” by Zola that begins with a barking dog and continues throughout with sound effects of a ringing telephone, dog whine, and whistles.

Tsotsi is an intriguing film that is garnering attention for its well-written story. The soundtrack is definitive in that it embodies South African rhythms with contemporary rap and instrumentation. Even though you may not understand the lyrics, you get the idea of life on the African continent.

Copyright 2006 Marie Asner
Submitted 3/5/06

Tsotsi won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.


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