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Listen to our picks of the newest music in 2020

2020-02-08 00:00

Wondering about new beats and visuals that have hit the scene since the year started? Phumlani S Langa takes a look at who has dropped what so far and dissects the beats, bars and visuals.

Khanyi Mbau

Ubusuku Bonke

3/5

Nobody expected this and truth be told the outcome is something this vivacious entertainer can be proud of.

Khanyi Mbau is no stranger to the studio; in 2010 she released Work Up On It which involved a slightly darker Khanyi singing some R&B/pop fusion with a beat that had violins and an almost Kwela Tebza or Soweto String Quartet vibe to it. Ubusuku Bonke is exceedingly better and not just in production value. Khanyi can sing, or I think she can.

Her new track sees her on some Zulu Ella Mai tip as she whips around a suburb in a drop-top Lamborghini while a hunk seated in the passenger does some risqué things to her as she drives.

The direct translation for the hook, which she lets out in a surprisingly well-controlled and not too heavily treated way, is ‘hit me all night’, which in this sense involves more loving connotations.

The video is all types of racy, and I’m not talking about the Lambo. It had me thinking about Christina Milian’s Dip It Low video, which was also a risky one to play during TV watershed hours. Bar the little rap thing she does near the bridge, this song is mad sexy.

Cassper Nyovest

Good For That

3/5

The lion king of raps took a break from breakbeats to try his hand at some bootleg kwaito and tropical love songs. It seems he got that out of his system and returns, seated on his Bentley as it rolls down the street, to talk about all the things he is good for, financially. Yet again nothing we haven’t heard before, but the man does know how to make his stuff appear cool.

He has that fragmented Future or Lil Wayne flow on the chorus, totally ladled in Auto-Tune but the cat does pick the hell out of the occasional beat or two. This one is rugged; it’s crafted to include the all-too-important jiggy House feel which our national ear can’t seem to let loose of.

It’s got a slightly Phumakim (2014) feeling with the street video to go along with it – goons, throwbacks and plastic cups. At least he didn’t have his director add animation to the footage in edit, a trend that should be left dormant indefinitely.

Makwa Featuring Maraza and AKA

Ayipheli

2.5/5

Rap Lyf’s Makwa brings us some new heat riding alongside veterans Maraza and AKA. The beat is borderline Kid Ink vibes, but the drums used do lend themselves well to live instrumentation as they have a natural sound to them. Maraza handles the hook much like Kwesta would, with a gravelly-sounding bravado. In a sonic ecosystem of party tracks this is good, but it’s just another non-demanding track to jive to at the braai. Thinking back, I can barely recall the melody.

Maraza doesn’t get a verse, and for my first encounter with Makwa I’d have liked to hear more about where he’s from and why I should be bumping his music and not someone like Flame or one of those artists rocking multicoloured braids. That’s the problem with roll-out strategies in our country, people drop videos and loose singles without any public engagement.

Gigi Lamyane  featuring Youngsta CPT and 25K

Jou Stad

3/5

The video starts in Diepkloof, Soweto, Gigi’s hood where she unhinges some venom on the first of three verses, each by a different rapper representing their hood.

We are about regionalism in hip-hop, but if it is healthy then maybe we need not take it to where the Americans did with the Eastside/Westside beef. After all, competition makes for better art.

Gigi enquires what your hood is like while mixing Afrikaans and vernacular quite sharply. Youngsta CPT answers Gigi’s chorus by providing his Western CapeG-Funk flow with visuals of Wynberg, from where he hails, making up his contribution. You know the video is going to be fire with Youngin in it.

We end off in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, with 25K, who provides a menacing verse standing in the middle of a heap of rubbish. It’s an exciting idea, but I wanted something a little more raw, a bit more of a resounding anthem for the hood. I was sure it would start a fad wherein other rappers jump on a remix and represent their sections.

Emtee

Wave and Brand New Day

3/5

Our own trap lord returns with a new label and new material which saw him trend on Twitter on the day both tracks were released. There are no visuals as of yet, but the sound is as in-pocket as you might expect from Manando.

Waves sees a psychedelic-inspired trap beat descend as Emtee revisits his accomplishments. There are a few jolting lyrics on this track, something weathered in his voice, probably all that Ambitiouz Entertainment stress. The life lived has definitely aided his artistic direction.

Brand New Day sees Emtee team up with Lolli and together they look to tomorrow over grown folks’ beats. It’s got no snares, but that hook has that sound he gave Ambitiouz with the not-so-hard-to-reach notes so we can all sing along with.

Nasty C

That's Hrad (Snippet)

3/5

Nasty C is a little like the Travis Scott of South Africa. The beats venture to where few others would dare, but the lyrics are too cute. I mean, he says something about sparks like Jordan. However, this man can garner hype with a 42-second long snippet of him doing DaBaby’s Bop by a lake. The album should be good, but I need some growth from this guy.

Blaq Diamond

Love Letter

3/5

This track is hip-sounding Afro-pop, making a sound enjoyed in an array of places, from the salon to the shebeen.

The flavours of people like Mlindo the Vocalist seem to strike a chord with people.

You must know what it feels like to send a love letter to someone far from the reaches of your affections, even if you have never experienced the wonders of creating a handwritten billet-doux.

The idea, Blaq Diamond’s simple vocal delivery and maskandi-inspired arrangement make it seem like this genre grew up next door to New Age hip-hop. It is surprisingly pleasant to listen to.

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February 23 2020