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Zuluboy - Igoda

2010-03-25 11:00
Giving Igoda a listen, one of the first things you notice is a sense of sonic growth—a kind of maturation and mellowness that, apart from kicking up a contrast against the much more urgent and fiery "Inqolobane", indicates that time has passed for the KZN Buffalo Soujah; that what might have started, essentially, as a bold but admittedly jaggedly clashed entry into maksandi & rap courtship, has now smoothened out and grown comfortable, loosened its limbs and stretched somewhat—shedding the skin of strict rap allegiance, and letting way for wild and loose exploration into genre.

The second thing you notice—and, fittingly, this second thing ties in with the first—is a kind of Rap Revisionism. Zuluboy unabashedly digs into Mzantsi music's archives, here. Jabu Khanyile & Bayete's "Mbomela", for example, appears twisted into a bboy stance on the third song, the orignal embellishments—the imbube vox, the jittery, stretched horn, the soft xylophone taps—respectfully held intact, while elsewhere the late Frank Leepa's "Now or Never" shows up "Reloaded" but relatively untouched by Dome, with Zuluboy hammering the tracks down with a retrospective reflection on apartheid (a la "Nomalanga") and an uplifting "get up and get it" manifesto, respectively.

But to backtrack, slightly, and touch on the raps. Igoda, perhaps because of it's loose foray into African Genre, doesn't hold as much lyrically as it does sonically. From the opening track, the heavily acoustic Afro-beat-touched "Dakar" featuring El Haj Cissokho on supporting vox, Zulu doesn't drop anything that leaps out and knocks you between the eyes. Sure, the unity-raps on this track hold their own¬—they are what they should be—but the emphasis just isn't there. However, that's not to say that Zulu flatlines on his verses—nah, never that: tracks like "Zulu Uyasabeka", "Zobe Zisho" and "Khethiwe" make haste blowing that assertion out of the water. But the thing is, coasting amiably from ragga to ballad to mbanqanga to maskandi, and then spinning back again, Zulu sounds pleasant enough, but fails to startle and shake.

It could be that Zulu gets overwhelmed by the sheer scope of production on Igoda, or it could be that the over-abundance of features dulls the sctratch of his pen. Whatever it is, there's a palpable absence of fire, here.

If anything—and this, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a bad thing—Igoda just ain't an emcee's album. It isn't a fierce album. It's the album of something...else. A thing similar to an emcee, but somehow less blistering; more composed and wider-reaching, but less formally focused and obsessed; older and more mature, maybe, but less exciting...an "emcee-turned-musician".

Zuluboy returns with an eclectic and ethnocentric mix of maskandi-hop, but somehow just falls short of hard-hitting.

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