DJ Lag – The Rebellion

For most artists, tours are times of focus and endurance, challenging passages of time where everything is channeled toward one thing alone: the show. For DJ Lag, the extensive global trek supporting his acclaimed debut album Meeting With The King was a transformative experience. The South African producer and innovator seized his tour as an opportunity. 


During his off-days, Lag could be found collaborating with artists and fellow tastemakers from each nation he visited – sculpting gqom’s future well beyond the confines of Clermont. While his contemporaries clung tightly to tradition in the face of gqom’s inevitable proliferation, DJ Lag embraced this globalisation wholeheartedly. His sophomore LP reflects this journey, and the turning point that Lag the artist finds himself at. 


The Rebellion ventures farther outside gqom’s vernacular than anything Lag has made before it, taking its cue from his recent slew of singles in the vein of Bulldozer and Kwenzakalan. Lag experiments with fresh local styles like three-step while gazing toward foreign tongues, particularly UK grime, cumbia, and hip-hop. Lag’s love affair with grime is understandable – the style shares much in common with gqom both in convention and culture, and on tracks like Hade Boss and Umlilo, Lag uses these connections to reinvent many of the gqom signifiers he is responsible for creating. 


Previously released single Oke Oke, a collaboration with Jazz Alonso, is probably the most head turning U-turn – a cumbia inflected banger that introduces Latinx pop vocals into the DJ Lag multiverse; a multiverse that’s markedly more diverse than it has ever been. Elsewhere, touches of Eurodance and euphoric trance make unexpected cameos on Trouble and Dubula – subtle references from Lag’s expanded palette that he translates into gqom with brilliant sophistication. It’s this sort of refinement that makes The Rebellion feel pivotal – a recognition of gqom’s inevitable cosmopolitanism by one of its foremost trailblazers.