Solo

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10min2630

“The eye sees what the mind believes” and that is a scary thought considering that most of us as children of the soil, believe whatever they want us to believe. Zothile ‘Solo’ Langa wants us to believe that it is possible for a South African celebrity pretty boy to possess a high capacity for introspection and an above average level of critical thinking.

My default setting when it comes to dealing with pretty people is the prejudiced idea that evolution does not allow them the development of interesting genuine personalities and/or characters. Consequently, I was sceptical when a fellow shinobi declared that Solo’s latest musical project is fire and an essential addition to the playlist of anyone who considers themselves a mature Mzansi Hip-hop head. I have no frame of reference as it pertains to Solo’s musical journey or growth because this is the first time I have listened to any project by the Diepkloof native. I have always viewed him as a rap purist whose focus was more on lyricism than the music and I generally lack an appetite for such artists. After listening to Solo’s latest offering C Plenty Dreams, I feel bloated from the shit load of humble pie that this mo’fo has been feeding me and I have nowhere to hide my shame.

Sonically, Solo generally fuses kasi and isiZulu vocal samples with mellow melodies to create a laid-back and familiar sonic textures, which often feels uniquely South African without the usual pretentiousness that one gets from most mainstream Hip-hop artists trying to reach a wider market. Upon these textures he lyrically delivers priceless gems of wisdom to the young urban black youth of Mzansi. In the retrospective joint Imali he starts the track with a menacing sangoma chanting sample and later questions the instances of “bottle wars” that often occurs in SA’s nightclubs What is boasting anyway if it ain’t a hate on yourself…

On my favourite song on the album Imposter Syndrome, he explores the process one goes through in order to reach their dreams and/or goals by offering practical and authentic insights on how to approach such a dilemma “...jump on the stage while picturi’n people naked everybody naked, people just say shit, kodwa that’s one of my favourites…how do we walk around downplaying victories, highlighting miseries often eclipse…I’m talking about the delusion of chasing perfection while flaws are what sharpens the gift…”

It is clear that Solo has put a lot of effort into improving his creative process in order to become more musical without losing his lyricism. With that said one feels that the back end of the project he reverts back to his hold habit of monotonously rapping with generic vocal inflections which are void of any real emotions. In the kwaito influenced joint Promises, he predictably features Kwesta who recites some throw away verse to get that feature money and royalties. Solo delivers some wack ass rhyme scheme which one has heard a million times before “…I have had the visions since u pikinini ngi gijimisa u grot, figuring the business get my business get my niggers out of the woods…” In the following joint Ubuntu Babo he goes into a double-time rapping tiered which makes my eyes glaze over with disinterest over the entirety of the joint. Hypocritically though I love the last track Take me which is a boom bap tribute to Hip-hop legends who passed away in 2018 “…I have lost heroes that’s how villains are born…the cloth that I am cut from isn’t withering the storm , and what is a left is expensive fabric that you new niggers know nothing about… “

Shade!

The two interludes in this project, Highlight reel and Show the Bloopers are touching monologues by his parents which leave a “broke-ass-know it all” blogger with daddy issues feeling a bit tender. In the first interlude his mother reflects upon the circumstances that have led her towards living a spiritual lifestyle and how that ended up influencing her children. In the second interlude Show the Bloopers, Solo starts the joint with a cold eight bars which contain a moving tribute to Gugu Zulu

“…I was a defrabulator with those with no pulse, really shouldn’t be looking in those parts, pull the fuse and leave the room with no spark, Gugu Zulu put me in a go cart, who would have later known later that I would be so clutch, hope his daughter knows he had the biggest heart”

This is followed by his father, who dishes out compliments about Solo’s work ethic “…to do the right thing…ireward of doing that…iyazizela…when a person thinks about doing good right.. some people say ‘I do good so that should I die, I go to heaven’…and let’s say there is no heaven but you would have lived a good life…If you do something correct, ireward iyayizela…I promise…you will see”

In totality this project is dope as fuck, not chart climbing and internet breaking kind of dope. The hidden gem kind of dope, buried underneath the pop singles of the Nasty, AKA or Casspers of the game. This album is an important contribution to Mzansi’s Hip-hop culture because it is a clear indicator that our music can be more than just a bottle pusher in the North of Jozi. Hip-hop can be an authentic contributor to this country’s story and legacy. Due to that fact, I can’t wait for the next album from this not-so solo any longer pretty boy.

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7min4750

Remember when Cassper Nyovest told Sway he was South Africa’s Kanye West, or when Nasty C said he had not experienced racism in South Africa- the rappers were speaking their truth, but one can’t help think that they could’ve worded their statements differently and with more astuteness.

On both occasions, the youngins gave skewed representation of what really happens in South Africa. People were divided in opinion about their presence on the radio show. But what’s been evident since Stogie T’s appearance on Sway In The Morning, is the unanimity in which everyone was in praising the OG.

Comedian Kagiso Mokgadi joked that “The Rand strengthened one percent vs the doller today. Thank you Stogie T.”

While Osmic said the verse should be studied in labs, high school and university, to which OG rapper Wikid agreed with, commenting “He murdered it”.  The most random adulation came from former Orlando Pirates soccer player Kermit Erasmus. “Our own legend, @TumiMolekane spittin barz, this gave me goosebumps.I had to call him to let him know,” wrote Erasmus on Twitter. While South African sprinter Akani Simbine dubbed Stogie the “Undisputed lyrical king.”

“From the interview to the best freestyle I’ve ever heard on Sway show. Personally…I am thoroughly represented here,” tweeted rapper Solo.

But there was no bigger nod than that of The Roots’ Black Thought, who sent Stogie a message simply saying “You a beat bro.”  Which left Stogie speechless.

“The moment you feel like dumming shit down, go play @TumiMolekane freestyle,” said Rougue.

Fellow lyricist of the year nominee at this year’s Hip Hop awards, PdotO tweeted “We were well represented on Sway. Thank you for that king. Mean! Mean mean.”

No has ever doubted Stogie’s pen game, but what made South Africans proud was because most people felt that his skill has long warranted him to be on such platforms.

He articulated himself well in the interview, narrating to Sway South Africa’s Hip Hop history. He did the stuff of globally celebrated South African athletes or pious politicians, in how he gave the country that fuzzy feeling inside.

It was also a win for local OG rappers, after the tough year they’ve had losing three giants who impacted the game on different levels. Wherever HHP, Pro Kid and Ben Sharpa are, they glowed with pride upon hearing Stogie rap.

Sway aptly said “Stogie T, South Africa’s finest,” as he was about to go in. He not only represented South Africa, but the African continent. His bars had more weight than Biggie, Pun and T from the V sitting on a park bench.  He brashly started by saying

There ain’t a French bottle we ain’t pop

A fresh article we ain’t copped

Benz top that we ain’t dropped

A dress model we ain’t knocked

A festival we ain’t rocked

Destined to be this hot,

He was basically saying to the American audience listening that ‘hey, I might be from that dark continent but, you ought to show me some respect’

Rapping about how in today’s South Africa, struggle heroes are raising spoilt kids and the opulent only meeting the deprived when the latter come clean after them. Directly talking to the country’s inequality.

He challenged stereotypes that Americans always pin on Africans, whilst also showing appreciation of Hip Hop culture in the US and Malcom X.

I’m a Kool G Rap alumni,

These my handlers, the kufi Nas from NY,

Jesus medallion, reading Langston Hughes,

El-Hajj Malik el Shabazz and them,

Shit in the pocket like the Audubon assassin

I couldn’t help but think of Irish poet, Oscar Wilde’s quote, “with age, comes wisdom,” after watching the whole interview. He showed wisdom, not only in conversation with Sway, but also with his raps which got a lot of people pondering on a lot.

He posted a photo of himself at what looked like the Roc-Nation offices, with a caption implying that someone there wanted to meet him. He said going on Sway was something on his bucket list, but it might just be the first step to next level shit for Stogie,since Tumi from The Volume dun did that and got the T-shirt.

 


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