Eerste River singer Mario “Amigo” Laaistocksong says his latest single, Understand (How You Feel), is a reggae love song that grapples with relationships in the modern world.
The song was released at Utopia Café and Lounge, in Ottery, late last month, and friends and family were there to support Amigo, 37, who has been blind since 1994 when he was in a car accident in Eerste River.
Amigo grew up listening to soul, jazz and funk and drew particular inspiration, he says, from Barry White, Luther Vandross, Randy Crawford and Sade. Later, he discovered hip hop and immersed himself in the lyrics of Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Nate Dogg, as well as local artists Funny Carp, Amakokorot, Garlic Brown, Scally Wag and Brasse Vannie Kaap.
Amigo says he was also greatly inspired by the late Mitchell’s Plain rapper, Mario “Mr Devious” Van Rooy, and his descriptions of growing up in Mitchell’s Plain.
South African hip hop, he says, gave him confidence to start writing his own lyrics.
In 2018, Amigo became part of the ATKV-Crescendo singing team and attended song-writing workshops.
In 2019, his song Koud Daar Buite was selected for the ATKV-Crescendo finals.
At the end of 2019, Amigo and Bliksemstraal wrote and produced the song, Body, and, in 2020, Amigo recorded the track, Champion, which is featured on DJ Ready D’s album, Goema Music, and was released exclusively on the Joox music app.
In February this year, he released Always on my Mind, which charted on radio.
Amigo is also currently enrolled in an IT course at the Cape Town School of the Blind (CTSB) in Salt River.
“At the start of his course, it was a huge task to travel alone via public transport to CTSB and back home to Eerste River. This experience built my confidence and self-esteem so much,” he says.
He now has a lift club to get to the CTSB.
Amigo says he is determined to get his IT diploma, enter the job market and provide for his family, and he is also very busy preparing to perform at spring and summer music festivals and concerts.