It's finally here. Rouge drops her debut album after an extensive promotional run with a new video for Déjà vu as well as two trailers for her same title short film which aired last night on MTV Base. The New Era Sessions really bring you into Rouge's soul and you immediately tumble into her thoughts on Underrated where her singing tugs at your heart accompanied by the classic piano notes and her rapping-for-my-life flow on the track. Shu! The opening of the album sounds like a trip into Rouge's feelings as a rapper on the scene navigating herself through a world that seems to wanna disregard her greatness yet she rises through it all. You hear that in Celebrity added with a touch of happy on Let It Go.
Drawing from the excitable feelings the previous track gives you, the familiar Déjà vu comes on and transports you into a hard banging dance session right through to No Pressure as Rouge's "no f%ks to give" attitude heightens in the music. I'm so glad that thus far the whole album has been just her allowing you to nestle into her element right before the first feature comes on in Big Star for Dololo where Rouge tag teams with him to remind the haters that they don't do much but they're out here concerned about things that don't concern them. I actually like this song 'cause she addresses so much fakeness in a lot of us who act like we got things going on kanti, DOLOLO life.
There's no denying that Rouge is a dope rapper. Her flexibility and adventurous spirit on this album is evidence of her ability to express herself in multiple (and creative) ways. From Naledi we dip into the issues that a young lady in the limelight might face from seeking validation and harsh self criticism which leads to her being a cynic about love, you hear the story of a hurt someone here. Rouge continues that note on The Break-Up which kinda makes you feel like the girl in Naledi has managed to push her man away and now he wants to leave, ironically (since she didn't wanna commit) she's distraught about the fact. It makes me feel like I'm right there watching this mess unfold. Bring in Simon Says and Rouge is tough and in control again with an "I got this" kinda attitude which also comes through in her delivery. This bleeds really well into No Strings, a theme song for a detached girl who flips the script on guys now. The past 4 tracks take you on a ride from an insecure someone who is pessimistic about love to her actually becoming "heartless", for lack of a better word.
As we close off the album, Rouge is onto the next one tryna be a boss getting her money right. On Mbongo Zaka with Moozlie she's got her girlfriend on deck who echoes power and getting your own. We settle back into a confident persona in this part of the album, similar to the opening but on a more personal victory type of vibe. The music is smooth and almost hypnotic (Sheba Ngwan'o) allowing you to come back to reality as the album fades out. I was curious about what Mabele might sound like or mean and it's nothing like I could've imagined. Rouge actually flexes with the vocals on here, wow. The song buries you in a feeling of African pride, victory and triumph in the encompassing strings. ROUGE CAN SING BATHONG. I love that after listening to the album you feel like you know Rouge just a bit more through the multiple expressions on this album. It's quite a trip of self affirmation, knowing love, the will to fight and ultimately recognising your inner power and channeling that greatness. That or I've been listening to the wrong album this whole time. Great work here!
Get it on iTunes right now!