With their brightly coloured costumes and streetwise singing and dancing, the Trompies have risen to the upper echelon of South African pop music. Their records have sold more than a half million copies while their hits, including "Thalakele," sold more than 40,000 copies. Their 1997 single, "Magasman," recorded with Lebo Mathoso of Boom Shaka, has become a national anthem and has been featured on the soundtracks of three South African films. Their record label, Kalawa Jazmee, which they launched with disc jockey Oscar Mdlongwa and producer Don Laka in 1996, is one of the most successful black-owned record companies in the world. Rooted in the mapantsula style, the Trompies transformed the style's reputation as the music of gangsters to a much-respected musical approach. The Zimbabwe Standard praised the group for their "synchronized footwork and independent dance moves." The steps that resulted in the formation of the Trompies trace back to when the four members -- Zynne "Mahoota" Sibika, Mandla "Spikiri"Mofokeng, Eugene "Donald Duck" Mthethwa, and Jairus "Jakarumba" Nkwe -- were youngsters in Soweto's Meadowlands Township. Sharing a love of music, the four musicians/vocalists agreed to study music in preparation of forming a band. While Sibika and Nkwe studied classical music and jazz at Trinity College of Music in London, Mofokeng and Mthethwa took lessons at the Funda Center in Soweto. The first band member to reach out to a global audience was Mthethwa, who accepted an invitation to join Lucky Dube's band. Mofokeng, who joined producer Sello "Chicco" Twala's ensemble, along with Nkwe as a dancer, was promoted to the band after learning piano. After four years with Twala's group, Mofokeng and Nkwe formed a band, MM Deluxe, with kwaito star M'du Masilela. Mofokeng's interests in music led him to become a sound engineer at Phil Hollis' studio. He was soon joined by the three other musician/singers. During the five years that they worked at the studio, the quartet wrote and produced recordings for Baby Gee, Tsekeleke, Senyaka, and Magents. They worked as freelancers at Downtown Records and CSR Studios while recording their debut group album, Sigiya Ngengoma. The Trompies' albums have featured guest appearances by such leading South African artists as Cindy from Sarafina! and Stoan from Bongo Muffin. Copperhead has practically become a fifth member, appearing on their records and periodically joining the group during concert performances.
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