Phumlani S Langa bumps Azania, the latest album by Reason
. . . - -
Reason’s latest album, Azania, certainly has its moments. One such moment plays out on the Zoocci Coke Dope beat – which also features soul band The Muffinz – called 10 111. Any album about the essence of Azania would not be complete without a track about the police and this one has quite some bite. Reason raps with a seasoned flow moulded into some hard verses. The beat has that new-age swing to it provided by Zoocci, but the instrumental is given an African tone by the musical contributions of The Muffinz.
Nkosi Yam’ sees Reason dabble with a few vernacular raps, which he does rather well. He uses the word ‘eish’ as an ad-lib, which is very Riky Rick, and this happens to be one of the few tracks without a feature on it. Banani Mavoko brings a slightly more aggressive Reason to the fore with a primal-sounding hook as the verse serves up the more in-depth writing that we have been dying to hear from Reason.
Cashless Society features the versatile and slept on Ginger Trill. I watched Reason do this track live and a big part of this record is the chorus. I read the title for this and thought of the old-school rap group Cashless Society, who gave us hits like Hottentot Hop. A really cool move would’ve been to sample this or one of their other songs – perhaps put Snazz D on the track or something? This reference felt a little empty to me.
Reason has enlisted the help of a few international artists on this, his third studio album. Chicago’s Mick Jenkins rides with him on Champagne and Water. I gather that, given Jenkins’ use of water as a talking point in his music, Reason would be the champagne. The two beverages are opposites, which the two play on in their lines. Swizz Beatz gave Reason a beat and he put iconic jazz singer Sibongile Khumalo on this title track. It’s one of the strongest songs to come out this year.
These are the moments I enjoyed, but there are tracks that, in my opinion, don’t seem to fit. At one point Reason is raging against the police and dreaming of a prosperous Africa. Then on Home Alone he’s informing a girl that his parents are out and that she should come over. I get what he was trying to do, but is this the album for a song like that?
The middle section sounds like Reason is trying to cover his bases, ensuring there is something for everyone. I get that most artists would like to sell, but certain songs break the vision and give this album a playlist feel. I wanted more relentless rap, but I feel like this guy tethers himself too often as he wrestles with being commercially viable while posing a threat on the microphone.
It is a hard thing to navigate, but soon Reason will have to decide. You spitting for plaques or are you dropping knowledge?