Matthew Africa Day
My 50th birthday party w/ (l to r, standing) Matthew Africa, Liz, me, White Paul, WillieMaze, Joe Bank$, SergDun, my nephew Jon, my niece Angela, Jerry Nice and Diane. DJs Swayzee and Lil’ Elle in front.
Today is Matthew Africa’s birthday. He would have been 41 years old.
I haven’t posted on this blog since we got the news that he had passed away suddenly on Monday, September 3rd. When my husband Serg called me from work that following Thursday afternoon, and hesitated to speak after I said hello, I knew something terrible had happened. The words made sense as facts — “Matthew died in a car accident” — but the loss of our friend will never make sense to me.
Serg and Matthew, along with Soft Money, started the Stay Hatin’ podcast in May of last year. I’ve known Matthew for almost 20 years, but it’s only within the last 6 years or so that he became part of my inner circle of close homies. And often the guys recorded Stay Hatin’ at our place, so in addition to parties and hitting up local shows, I got to see Matthew quite often.
On the last Stay Hatin’ episode that Matthew recorded, he played “Absolutely” by Donnis featuring IAMSU! & Jay Ant:
Before we knew that Matthew had passed, I posted on Facebook about how that beat kicks and I couldn’t stop listening to it. Then wondered why Matthew hadn’t replied. I thought maybe he was still on vacation… I got the biggest kick out of sharing appreciation for anything he put me up on. I miss that a lot.
In the mid-90s, Matthew contributed record reviews to The Vinyl Exchange, a DJ/vinyl zine I published monthly from 1994 through 1997, which I think of as the independent 12-inch era. I’m working on transcribing and posting all of his writing, but here’s one of my favorites, from June 1996:
PEANUT BUTTER WOLF and Various MCs – “Step On Our Ego’s?”
(Southpaw Records) Production: Peanut Butter Wolf
This EP is a breath of fresh air. It showcases the talents of six acts, including the much-missed Charizma (R.I.P.). PBW’s production is dope, from the mellow keys on “Think Twice” to the bugged loop on “My Old Nasty Habit.” My personal favorites are 50 Grand’s “Max Mode” and Encore’s “Think Twice” (the whole shit is dope—concept, rhyme style, beat). P.S. Also check for Peanut Butter’s breakbeat album, released last year on Heyday – about the only breakbeat I’d pay for.
I mentioned this in memories I shared with Billy Jam for his post about Matthew Africa on the Amoeba blog. Here’s a repost:
“Matthew was a huge contributor to the DJ zine I published from ’94-’97, The Vinyl Exchange. I couldn’t wait to get his disk (remember those?) each month, to get a jump on all his new 12” recommendations. I’ve been going back and reading them all and one made my head nod just thinking about it, and it’s the original version of ‘Get Your Swerve On’ by Dutchmin. This was soon re-released on Dolo Recordings, but the Street Life Entertainment version is way more dope.
“I designed the cover for Yay Game, his E-40 mix (under Matthew’s careful art direction of course!). I was excited to get the first look at the track listing. I was actually nervous that he might leave out my favorite, ‘Sprinkle Me’ featuring Suga-T. But of course he didn’t.
“Recently on ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ contestants performed to Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ and I was reminded of the dopeness of that song. Matthew had the Betty Chung version, which he played on KFJC’s Rucker Park show. Hearing this after he passed, when it had just been on my mind, was very special. And I love how he leads into it with the Nancy Sinatra version on the Plays Seven Inches mix.
“Matthew and my husband Serg started the Stay Hatin’ podcast last year. They, along with Soft Money, play and discuss rap songs. On Episode 3, Matthew played Juicy J’s ‘A Zip and a Double Cup’ which became an instant favorite. The last time I went out with Matthew was Juicy J’s show at the Regency last month. When this jam came on I was so pumped, I started jumping up and down and landed on Matthew’s foot. Sorry Matthew!
Matthew Africa was a great friend and I miss him terribly.”
In addition to being a thoughtful, meticulous DJ, Matthew was an archivist, an influencer, a teacher. And he was just crazy fun to hang out with. He cared about his friends. He was SO smart and funny and he liked to get crunk. I think about him every day. I continue to read through his blog, listen to every audio clip he posted and listen to all his mixes. I think about what new music he would like, what old music I want to talk about with him. I picture him sitting at our table…
Our world is empty without you, Matthew Africa. But our lives are so much more full for having known you.
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