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Gqom [ᶢǃʱòm] '(Igqomu) [iᶢǃʱòmu] is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged in the early 2010s from Durban, South Africa,[1] pioneered largely by producer DJ Lag[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10], duo Rudeboyz[2][11][12][13], Griffit Vigo, Dominowe[14] and Citizen Boy[15][16] developed from South African house music, kwaito and techno.[17] Unlike other South African electronic music, gqom is typified by minimal, raw and repetitive sound with heavy bass beats but without the four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern.[1]

Music connoisseurs who embraced the new sound included the likes of South African rapper Okmalumkoolkat, Italian record label Gqom Oh owner, Malumz Kole,[18] Afrotainment record label owner DJ Tira, as well as Babes Wodumo with the music taste-maker and personal public relations liaison, Cherish LaLa Mankai.[18] Related artists include Distruction Boyz.[15]

Name and characteristics[edit]

The word gqom derives from an onomatopoeic combination of click consonants in the isiZulu and isiXhosa meaning a hitting drum. It is also expressed as qgomigqomgqomu or variants thereof.[19][20]

Gqom is known for its beats which have a minimal, raw and repetitive sound with heavy bass. It is mainly described as having a dark and hypnotic club sound. The style of beats does not use the four-on-the-flour rhythm pattern which is often heard in other house music.[1] Typical lyrical themes include nightlife. It often uses one phrase or a few lines which are repeated numerous times in the song. Gqom was developed by a young generation of technologically skilled DJs producing in D.I.Y. fashion with software such as FL Studio and often self distributing their music on file sharing platforms.[16] From the mid-2010s the genre gained prominence abroad, especially in London.[21]

Dance moves[edit]

Gqom music is associated with a number of distinctive dance moves, including gwara gwara, vosho and bhenga.[22]

Gwara gwara[edit]

Gwara gwara is performed by rolling and swinging the arm and the elbow in terms of making a circle, and one of the leg moves in connection with the arm's rhythm. It has some similarities to the Stanky Leg.[23] The dance move created by disc jockey and producer DJ Bongz, was heavily imitated by South Africans and other African people mainly during 2016.[24][25] It also received widespread globally as the choreography was adopted by notable musicians: Rihanna performed the dance move while performing Wild Thoughts at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018. Childish Gambino performed the dance in the video of his song "This Is America".[26][27]


  1. ^ a b c Oliver, Huw (2016-01-22). "Gqom, the foot-stomping new sound of South Africa's townships". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  2. ^ a b Dazed (2015-06-05). "What the foq is gqom?". Dazed. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  3. ^ "Anywhere DJ Lag Goes | DJ Lag Interview | Music Blog | The Way Of Us". Superbalist. 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  4. ^ "DJ Lag". Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  5. ^ McNair, Ian (2016-06-01). "DJ Lag to Play Unsound Fest in Poland". Platform. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  6. ^ "DJ Lag". ADE. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  7. ^ Angbeletchy, Celine. "DJ Lag | Godfather of GQOM". GRIOT. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  8. ^ D’Souza, Mikey Burey,Shaad (2018-12-10). "DJ Lag's Noisey Mix Shows How Fast Gqom Moves". Vice. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  9. ^ "DJ Lag | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  10. ^ "Gqom pioneer DJ Lag". City Buzz. 2018-08-27. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  11. ^ "Meet the 'unsung heroes' behind gqom music: Rudeboyz". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  12. ^ "Rude Boyz – The Music Imbizo". Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  13. ^ "FADER Mix: RudeBoyz". The FADER. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  14. ^ "Success In Reverse: Dj Lag Talks". Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  15. ^ a b "Gqom: A deeper look at South Africa's new generation of house". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2016-01-05. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  16. ^ a b Akyea, Akornefa (2018-07-19). "The Gqom Generation of Durban, South Africa". Afropop Worldwide. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  17. ^ Le Gal, Anne (2016-08-09). "Gqom—The Sound from the Townships of South Africa". Indie Guides. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  18. ^ a b Weichenrieder, Philipp (19 April 2016). "Gqom-Musik aus Südafrika: Townships calling" – via
  19. ^ "What Is #Gqom?". Red Bull Music Academy Daily.
  20. ^ Shokane, Vincent (2018-11-12). "Bolo House Music". Bolo House Music: Gqom, Afro-Bolo, Bolo House Music News Update. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  21. ^ Cliff, Aimee (2015-06-05). "What the foq is gqom?". Dazed. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  22. ^ "The Indelible Rise of Gqom". The Plug Mag.
  23. ^ "How to Dance the Gwara Gwara". WikiHow.
  24. ^ "Show dem! 4 times the gwara gwara dominated the world stage". TimesLIVE.
  25. ^ "DJ Bongz 'trademarked' the 'Gwara Gwara'". SowetanLIVE.
  26. ^ "Here's what you need to know about Rihanna's South African dance move". Dazed.
  27. ^ "WATCH: Childish Gambino masters 'Gwara Gwara' in new music video". eNCA.

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