Despite the wrench of a lifetime being thrown at the wheels of this year, we have been gifted with some great music. A small consolation prize, seeing as celebrations have now been confined to screens and four walls, leaving us no choice but to turn our homes into album listening sessions, because we move. As the first half of the year has gone by, I thought it would be fun to highlight two offerings from the first two quarters of the year.
Fuck the World by Brent Faiyaz
Released: 07 February 2020
Our first quarter pick is Faiyaz’s sophomore (solo) album and it shows, he has mastered how to tell his stories without droning which could be very easy for him to do with the tone of his voice. It is timid and not forceful as you’d expect in an RnB vocalist, but he commands his tone and your attention with punchy, unrelentingly self-absorbed lyrics. The kind of self-absorption you find endearing when singing along, like “Fuck the world I’m a walking erection”, nothing a cis-man likes more than slanging his dick hey? Like all the confidence is condensed in the veins, flex babes. Which he does, the album details his escapades in foreign lands and how important or not the participants are to him, but he never forgets to tell us how important he is.
That’s not all the album offers though, amid the posturing there is a realness that speaks to how insecure young people are in a world that expects us to be happy with scraps and struggles while simultaneously expecting us to overcome without complain. Brent essentially says, “fuck the establishment I am a young Black man who has made it on his own terms” in an industry that was built on the exploitation of Black people’s talents and stories. His softness in songs like Let Me Know show us that softness is possible and necessary to the Black male experience. It’s as if he knew we would have time-infinitum for introspection. I hope Black men use it wisely.
Endaweni by Darkie Fiction
Released: 10 April 2020
I dare you not to like the title track of this EP, if you don’t then you are a hater, I don’t make the rules … I just enforce them. This being their second EP and their cover art a family portrait with their precious baby girl, the growth is stupendous and it shows in their sound. The confidence jumps at you as Yoza belts her heart out in the first song Iz’thunzela, she sounds far away but so strong. Like a shadow, which is what the word means in isiXhosa. Katt Daddy follows with an explanatory “I want you to get out of my mind”, confidently telling the non-believers to swiftly move aside. The self-assurance that comes from going against the grain, they routinely make sure we know their sound is authentically South African, the two Eastern Cape natives live in and take pride in their authenticity. This EP is their embodiment of a driving spirit and need to make it through as you are and with what you have been given, without feeling the need to conform.
There is something called Post Kwaito, which encompasses South Africans making music reminiscent of Kwaito like an heir to Kwaito if you will, Darkie Fiction is part of this group. Even though in my honest opinion, I believe their sound is unquestionably Kwaito especially in the song High Risk, shem you can take me back to 1997 when this song comes on, and then you hear a bit of 1980s kwaito in their ballads like South Africa. We hardly ever give South African genres the space to grown which is why people routinely ask whether kwaito is dead; it is a weird but valid question in a country that easily forgets; but our second quarter pick tells us Kwaito is still here, iseNdaweni.
By: Bulelwa Mthombothi