The harsh red and black album designs, and the band members' unsmiling expressions that hold just right amount of menace, hint that Gommora might be one of the heavier kwaito groups. But Gommora are as FM-friendly as any other band trying to get themselves play listed during prime time. This is kwaito watered down for a world market.
Gommora dilute the raw, in-your-face attitude of South African kwaito (remember, the word comes from the Afrikaans 'kwaai', meaning 'angry') with a heavy dose of modern, very American R&B flavours. Between the familiar driving beats and hip-hop inspired chanting there's also harmonising, soaring, soppy vocals with a high notes-per-syllable ratio, and worst of all, falsetto. One of the main offenders here is "Soweto" which throws some jangly African guitar sounds into the mix, and ends up sounding more like something you'd expect to hear in a curio shop than on a dance floor.
It's not all bad. The first track, "Tembi Plz" is a solid, driving dance song, and probably the best on the album. Much later there's the more laid back 'No Money', which is about as hip-hop as kwaito can get.But that's about it, really. The excessively high R&B influence dilutes, rather than strengthens, the sound, so perhaps purist kwaito fans aren't going to fall in love this album. But if you have a foreign friend who asks you to introduce them to kwaito, this might be the place to start, before moving on to the real stuff.- Chris McEvoy
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