Nhlanhla Nciza - Iingcinga Zam

2009-11-09 11:24

As seems to be the trend with quite a few of these newer Afro-pop-cum-adult contemporary albums, Nhlanhla’s latest album doesn’t carry with it anything that jumps out and wows the listener. It’s listenable sure – one or three tracks that can stand firmly on their own – but it seems to be heckled by the same problems that worried Zamajobe’s Ndoni Yami. Namely: there’s a palpable sense of repetitiveness. The sound often becomes too soft and easy, settling into a single emotional groove that – while initially able to tweak interest – soon begins to sound drawn out, unchallenging and forgettable.

Listening to Iingcinga Zam you hear a calm collection of soft, (mostly) Mediterranean-flavoured reflections and ballads. Fans might be shocked to discover there actually isn’t much in the way of the ‘Afro-pop sound’ – and not only that, there also isn’t much in the way of that step-dancing, party-raising, wedding-reception-anthem vibe we’ve come to expect from the Mafikizolo camp. This on its own isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since Nhlanhla’s marking her own territory here. Iingcinga Zam shows us a different, more reserved side to the songstress: here you have soft R&B flavoured adult-contempo ballads (“Meant to be Together” with living legend Caiphus Semenya), an up-tempo pan-African jazz jam (the incredible “Congo”), and Mahlathini-influenced mbaqanga riffs that turn up the heat on the infectious and bouncy “Mandinqande”.

All these songs catch the ear upon first listen and stand out amongst the rest of the album filler, suggesting that there’s more Nhlanhla could have done here. Unfortunately, these fillers take up most of the space on the album, smothering some of its finer lyrical moments. It should be said: it’s not for nothing that the album is sub-titled ‘My Thoughts’: Nhlanhla is an involved song-writer that often writes things that invite you into her personal space without sounding preachy or soppy.

Perhaps the problems facing the album aren’t to do with Nhlanhla alone, but rather the genre of black diamond-slanted revivalist Afro-pop/adult-contempo as a whole. Across the board, the genre seems to be rolling along and going through the motions, sidelining innovation (for familiarity) and enjoying the giddy (waning) heights of its popularity; a popularity which – ironically – was set by artists like Mafikizolo and Malaika arriving on the scene with something reviving, fresh and original.

Let’s hope they realise this and get back to the source.
Is adult-contemporary Afro-pop not facing enough in the way of musical challenges?

peunia 2009/10/20 9:13 AM
i think this album rocks you go girl
petunia 2009/10/20 9:18 AM
i think this album rocks you go girl
Dennis 2009/10/20 2:27 PM
This is one of the most wonderful beautiful piece of music a must have Album
Lungelo 2009/10/20 2:29 PM
Her Best Work to date, got the album last week.
zakes 2009/10/20 2:42 PM
I think the album is very beautiful
boyce fiyo 2009/10/20 2:46 PM
the albam is out of world trust me.
Ntswaki 2009/10/20 2:51 PM
Congo its one of the most beautiful African Songs it is going to be an African National Anthem Song For 2010 Soccer World Cup
zinhle 2009/10/20 2:53 PM
very beautiful album that i think every one will love 2 have for their collection good song congo that talks about AFRICA all AFRICAN people will love 2 have it
mandla khumalo 2009/10/20 2:59 PM
very good songs lalala...,congo,mawe and meant to be together love those songs
Adiyah 2009/10/20 3:00 PM
Ibought a copy at the OR Tambo Airport i think it will be a big mistake if the South African Community does'nt embrace this Song Congo as an African Song for the 2010 this is one song that talks about the beauty of our continent iam a Congolise Nationality i love it
Mongezi 2009/10/20 3:04 PM
I love this album its the best, I love la la la la la, I cant get enuf of this song but all in all the album is great.
Hugh 2009/10/20 3:05 PM
Katsi well done this is a great album
Kgomotso Zuma 2009/10/20 3:05 PM
WOW thats all I can say, wasn't a fan of miss Nciza but got dragged to a sunday soul session of hers and I must say this album rocks!!! I listen to it in the car, house and office and I find myself even convincing other people to buy it...Ladies listen to MAWE that song is amazing it's like an african version of Beyonces FREAKUM DRESS!!! But then again with Caiphus Semenya producing some tracks what did we expect! LOVE U GAL - Iincinga zakho are some of our realities so thanks for telling us we're not alone!!!
THANDISWA MAZWAI 2009/10/20 3:07 PM
i believe in this album she has outdone her self vocally bra CAFIAS and TAPS job well done
thulani msizi 2009/10/20 3:12 PM
lalala...love it always playing @ kaya fm
Zethu Zulu 2009/10/20 3:15 PM
Love it, love it, love it...especially Congo my boyfriend who happens to be from Nigeria is also in love with the cd especially track 6 which we have chosen to be our wedding song later in da year...pls make sure Nhlanhla reads this I love her music!!!
Sibongile Khumalo 2009/10/20 3:15 PM
Its very encouraging to see young woman taking their caree and music very seriously you are the next layer of woman Lagents in our country and keep up the good work
SOMIZI MHLONGO 2009/10/20 3:16 PM
LOVE the song lalala it makes me think of my boo
Bongani Hadebe 2009/10/20 3:19 PM
ayi munandi i album ka sisi Nhlanhla Nciza
ooh what a beautiful album it reminds me of the late MAMA AFRICA (MIRRIAM MAKEBA)
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