Black Coffee

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About Black Coffee

Going from the South African townships to Europe’s most coveted DJ booths, Black Coffee has followed one of the most unusual paths in dance music, altering Africa’s electronic landscape along the way. Born Nkosinathi Maphumulo in Durban, in 1976, he grew up in Mthatha, Nelson Mandela’s hometown, where his dreams were almost cut short in 1990, when he was struck by a taxi that drove into a crowd celebrating Mandela’s release from prison. Though he lost the use of his left arm, he moved back to Durban to study jazz and then on to Johannesburg, where he soaked up the sounds of kwaito, South Africa’s native strain of house music, and learned to DJ one-handed. Black Coffee’s self-titled debut album, in 2005, paired deep house’s moody chords with gently swinging drums; by 2015’s Pieces of Me, he was folding dusky soul and acoustic R&B around pumping house grooves infused with his usual melancholy energy. Though he was familiar to international crowds in Berlin and Ibiza, a turning point came in 2017, when Drake sampled Black Coffee on More Life’s “Get It Together,” propelling the South African musician into the global pop spotlight and on to collabs like 2019’s “LaLaLa,” with Usher. “I’m in a space now where I just want to produce music,” he told Apple Music in 2017, introducing a then-unfinished Swizz Beats and Burna Boy collaboration. “Doesn’t matter the tempo, doesn’t matter the vibe.” What’s unquestionable is that, in Black Coffee’s hands, it will be international—and deep.

Durban, South Africa
March 11, 1976

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