It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month since we lost Bra Hugh Masekela.
While the legend is now resting, his legacy is still very alive, especially for musicians who have been inspired by Bra Hugh’s music. It was exactly this that inspired a group of producers to release an instrumental album, A Bra Hugh Masekela Tribute.
The album was curated by producer and sound engineer Arzth, who we sat down with to discuss the inspiration behind the release.
Apart from the death of Bra Hugh, what inspired the tape?
Besides the death of Bra Hugh, the tape was inspired by [J Dilla’s] legacy. February is usually the time spent celebrating James Yancey’s work and life. I never [thought we would] lose Hugh Masekela during the best month of the year. So it was only right to honour Bra Hugh with an instrumental project. The way we would’ve celebrated James Yancey’s legacy.
Would you say Bra Hugh was like the Dilla of his time?
I wouldn’t say so, I think Madlib and Dilla are like Hugh and Fela — two kindred souls from different eras, with Dilla being the Fela of our time and Madlib the Hugh of our time. I can come up with some ridiculous conspiracy theories to why I think so [but] will leave it for volume 2 of the project.
What was the process of putting this album together?
The tape came about when IXV BEATS and I decided to release a tape instead of singles for the tribute. So we got hold of the “PureMusicLifestyle” collective to be part of it. In terms of compiling it, we just hollered at different producers to contribute and be part of it. Submissions were rejected when I felt they didn’t fit with Hugh Masekela sound. After a week or two, the tape was ready, but couldn’t release it as I thought it would’ve given a wrong impression about us trying to ride on Bra Hugh’s death. Now that the dust has settled we can get it done.
What can the hip-hop culture learn from Bra Hugh?
To celebrate our heritage and cultural backgrounds regardless of the kind of music we make or listen to and that there’s a lot we still need to learn from African musicians.