ALBUM REVIEW: Too safe to be truly unhinged

2017-02-26 06:00

Patty Monroe: Malatjie
R79.99 on iTunes

Dropped on 27 January, this is the first full-length offering from the bubbly emcee from Cape Town, courtesy of After Life Talent. Malatjie is an Afrikaans word used in the Cape to refer to a person who is mentally unstable, but, unfortunately, Ms Monroe doesn’t embrace the unhinged theme. Her tracks are mostly light and commercial. The album has an eclectic feel, with beats that aren’t straight-up boom bap or too trap, but instead features acoustic guitar strings, for instance, on the political single "Castles".

As far as her lyricism goes, it would be nice to get more out of the young emcee. She does a lot of singing and harmonising her bars, which is sure to get her records on air, but may deter pure hip-hop heads looking for something a little less cute and radio-friendly.

"Killin It" with Bebe Cool on the hook sees Patty doing a fake patwa. It works rather nicely and a fusion of dancehall and rap is always a winner. I would say the verses she spits on this track are probably the more venomous ones on the tape, and her bubbly style and flow just sit in the groove and make you want to get to shaking something. She takes us to the bando on "Messi" with a slightly darker verse than the rest of the album. Definitely one for the streets with the lyrics: "Do you wanna ride with the baddest chick in town?" She delivers harder than the production on this track. 

"Fighter" is a song that shows Monroe in a more vulnerable light – it flows with a slow and more concise delivery and tackles the theme of resilience. Caleb Williams finesses his way around the stirring hook – this is probably the strongest song on the tape. She seals off the tape with "Whiskey Sours", which has subtle undertones of R&B and trap soul that suit her preferred singing delivery.

Like many other local emcees, Monroe has opted to follow production and flow trends, which makes it difficult to hone in on her individual style and the things she brings to the table that set her apart from other local spitters. She’s about making money and being commercial, as is clearly demonstrated on tracks such as "Stay Focused".

The problem is that she doesn’t represent her hood to the fullest. The title is the only strong and tangible link to her roots and where she comes from. She’s got lots of club bangers and tracks designed to sell, but nothing in the way of really repping the Cape.

Monroe is one to watch and her raps can only get tighter with time, but she needs to veer away from following fleeting trends and serve up something dark and sinister, something there are hints of here and there on Malatjie.

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