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Esti - Esti

2006-03-30 06:12

The big CD sellers are the guys you'll find in the small town supermarkets and in Pick 'n Pay: Steve Hofmeyr, Dozi, Heinz Winckler, the Gospel crowd, and in the townships, Kwaito and R&B hitmakers. Some are brilliant. Others, not.

Many of the best SA Kwaito and R&B stars - Mandoza and Danny K. for instance - share a producer with Esti, who was discovered during a kwaito talent search. The producer's name is Gabi Le Roux.

This Esti is not your average kwaito babe.

Esti, whose name is spelt in brite pink, is styled just like a Footballer's Wife in the TV show. Think tonnes of highlights, a nice blue rokkie, bare feet, fake tan, and frosted lipstick. "Classy", as they say in the classifieds. On the inner sleeve, she goes more suburban, with a pienk leopard skin print, belted rokkie, and a slightly tossed mullet, prostrate in pale, rosy space with (you guessed it) a pink border.

In the inner sleeve, Esti thanks God, Gabi, and her friends profusely, with lots of capital letters, ellipses, exclamation marks and so on.

But does that surface stuff matter? No, not really. The music is what's important, right? Unfortunately, the music is a lot like the cover.

In some ways, this CD is the real thing - a rainbow nation product. It makes perfect sense that kwaito, a genre classified since 1994, should produce Esti. Esti's voice isn't unpleasant. Use a base of Britney, add lashings of Kylie and produce the result to sound like Brenda Fassie, and you're nearly there. Her major collaborators, the Abaqondisi Brothers (they sound a bit like Ladysmith Black Mambazo) do provide some beautiful vocals, and chillout styles mixed in here and there almost work.

But somehow, like a failed Eurovision song contest winner, Esti conveys an overriding impression of a musical thinness and cheapness that's only highlighted by the Abaqondisi Brothers' soulful sounds. By contrast to their richness, most of Esti's vocals sound like they've been passed through a robot's vocal chords. The excessive use of echoes and whacka wow scratch effects can't hide the dated Kylie-style sounds she makes. The odd pleasant acoustic riff doesn't fit in. And the lyrics? Oh, don't get me started.

That doesn't mean it's all bad. Esti is likely to keep parties hopping in places where nothing much better is available in the shops. And harmless fun is always a good thing. Having a white woman on the cover, and English lyrics, may also introduce new audiences to kwaito's galvanising beats. Perhaps some listeners will even be inspired to move on to some of the better stuff out there.

But while Esti's debut may well be a huge hit, both here and in Bavaria, it's not something we'll miss in a few years time, when it will be forgotten. Hopefully.

- Jean Barker

If the very name "Esti" sets off a violent clanging of mental alarm bells in everyone with "taste in music", remember that it's not adult pop rock like Phoenix, Arno Carstens, or Deluxe that makes it big. College rock like Bright Eyes, Arcade Fire or Elbow won't sell CDs in SA. Intelligent hip hop from guys like Waddy Jones or Brasse? Well, forget it.

Johan 2005-10-26 01:34 PM
Esti Wow, but you were VERY harsh and almost sounded like a "hate speech"! Come on, give the South African music a little credit for a very first! Yes there is a lot of "playing around"in the studio, but be asured this girl CAN sing! There are very good tracks and pleasant to listen to it as well. It is definitely something that can develope into a export item. You might not realise it, "Blessed"was included on the ministries of sound 2005 Annual edition in the UK, the very first SA-artiste to achieve it! Anyway, it deserves at least above avarage! Yes, definitely!
Pietie Kosie Jannie 2005-10-26 02:40 PM
Esti That the name Esti should set off violent alarm bells speaks of a faux liberal in Jean Barker, one of millions in our country who seem incapable of observing that all discrimination is indeed discrimination. Is it the fact that the name has Afrikaans overtones that it should automatically be dubious? Why would Jean make use of Afrikaans words like "rokkie" to mock the legitimacy of music that can only contribute to reconciliation and is clearly harmless? Or are Afrikaans speaking South Africans simply fair game and excluded from the political correctness that prevents Jean Barkewr from using a single African word in analysing a truly African genre she pretends to know something about? If you don't like the music (and I don't either) , then analyse at will. If you have reservations because she is Afrikaans, analyse yourself first. Then again, critics are like eunuchs - they know exactly how it is done; they simply lack the ability to do it themselves.
Hannetjie 2005-10-26 03:31 PM
not too bad I think its ok
J-Lo 2005-10-26 04:13 PM
Esti No Jean, u've got it all wrong, I think it's great, I loved "Blessed"on the Radio, pity the original is not included, but "Stand up"will do well, U'll see. Go girl yoy make us proud! Yes!!
Pietie KJ 2005-10-26 04:42 PM
It's not about AFrikaners, Pietie It's about names that end in i or y or ie for girl pop stars. Britney, Kylie, Esti, etc. I think you're making assumptions about what I meant. I have always believed that all discrimination on the basis of race and language is discrimination. And I have been critical of all types of SA music - and sometimes critically positive. I'm also critical of of aspects of all south african cultures. Sorry to have offended you, however. Something by Chris Chameleon, Johannes Kerkorrel, Koos Kombuis, Karen Zoid, Valiant Swart...
Piet Olivier 2005-10-26 07:00 PM
I can like to be righting the reviews Screw you guys, i just wanna bang her. hello, by: the guys who like to say hello
Pietie PE 2005-10-26 10:45 PM
Esti Thankx Piet KJ, you are "spot on" as the reaction of Jean reveals! What Chris Chameleon, and PLEASE! Koos Kombuis have to do with this review only Jean knows! The only difference between Piet KJ and me is that I just love it! Highly recommended!
gerard hellings 2005-10-27 04:41 AM
esti Kwaito is an irritating 3 level beat which comes from a limited amount of intellect as the so called music itself can be played onan upended dustbin. Thats where all the kwaito music should be. Nianel
Jean 2005-10-27 09:44 AM
You'd recommend Nianel? Well that just about says it all, Gerard... In My opinion, derivative folk pop that's about as interesting and stimulating as a vark koeksuster. No harm in it, but it's the Afrikaans equivalent of Westlife. Limited intellect ... there are morons of every culture; that's the beauty of diversity! There's good Kwaito, and terrible Kwaito, just like there's good and bad folk. No such thing as a bad genre, culture, language, colour, etc. Just bad examples of each and every. Pointing THOSE out is not racist, no matter what some people on this board may believe. Herbie Hancock's "Possibilities"

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