After what a lot of fans can deem as a hiatus since she hasn't released any material to the public either than a freestyle last year, Ms Nthabi gives us an oasis with her latest body of work. The mixtape, titled Broken Silence, bares a fully loaded name if you ask me. Apart from the obvious fact that she's sharing new music after so long, she also bleeds her heart out on this tape, almost as if this was her therapy session for many things she has kept buried in her chest.
May I start by commending her on the beat selection of this tape, it is so perfect that you almost forget that they are not her own original instrumentals. She opens the tape with a prayer and a roar of emotions on Waiting Game. She speaks of almost leaving music - I presume - clearly sounding like she's fighting to go up a hard mountain, the beat itself creates a perfect emotional build up as she goes on about deciding to stick with rap despite the pain it sometimes brings her. We were never ready for what we're about to experience with this project. Upon my first listen, the Lauryn Hill except she uses really hit me so hard that I was gobsmacked. Mind you, this is just the first track. She continues on No Fear where her tone softens from the aggressive sounding delivery she gave us in the opening track. On this track she fights for emancipation, finding comfort in her ability to write for healing and soothing others. Here, Nthabi writes a love letter to her true fans letting them know where she stands with this music thing, she gives you her heart. No Fear is also a metaphor for letting go of all inhibitions and being who you were truly meant to be without the distractions of the world, something that can easily happen to someone who finds themselves consumed in the entertainment industry with the fame and lights. It's an awakening.
Ms Nthabi did not intend to come out with subtlety on this tape. Flip affirms this notion as you can almost picture her pulling a chair to school us, in case we forgot that she's a queen with the words. The confidence and composure on this track is assurance that all love is not lost, and that her rap game is in perfect shape too. She spits hard bars about things you will easily find yourself nodding along to in agreement. Just as you were jamming to that, she hits you with an emotional turn of events on Love Drought. Might I add that the beat is so precise for the subjects on this song. This song sounds like a diary entry to a love as she puts down all that's on her mind that she's been harbouring inside. Her delivery is subtle, yet potent, as she kinda whispers while sounding like she's practicing having a conversation with this person. Excellent execution. How opportune it is for Beyoncé's vocals to be kept on the beat as well just to back her up. It all comes together like magic. Man, I thought this was the nail in the coffin upon my first listen but I was wrong...
In comes Love Lost, the song we saw her recording with Ruby Gold some time back. Now, this song will bury you in the crevices of your own heart as you ponder on all the things she raps about. This is a letter to her baby daddy, someone who walked away from their seed. I think this song will have the opposite impact of Cassper Nyovest's Superman - a song I love for its message about fatherhood. Love Lost is a story of time past, time that will never be recovered as it reflects on how her son's life has been being raised by one of his parents. A story that many a South African children, and single mothers, will relate to. This song will either warm the hearts of many, or bring out the past hurt and anger buried deep inside from fathers that walked away, or those that were never even known to begin with. Shu! This, I beg, is the power of music. The ability to not only tell your own story but to allow your audience to travel with you to their own experiences is something that can never be replaced by any fame or level of success. Ruby Gold being the only feature on the tape warrants her appearance, her vocals appear like Mother Time herself whispering in the ears of this man telling him that, "You've missed out on a beautiful light." Powerful! She closes the tape with the title track which emcompasses every single emotion you felt throughout the tape, either in the lyrics or in the clashing pop-rock beat. Nthabi sounds like a victor on this song, finally standing on top of that mountain she was slipping up on in the intro of the tape. It also sounds like a perfect outro, especially with the classic guitar solo playing out that signals the end of something - like when credits roll on a screen. Just like that, in less than 30 minutes Nthabi has reached for your heart, pinched it, popped it out of your chest, hugged it, and returned it safely.
I must've listened to this tape about 10 times already, because it is short, but also because I needed to get over the heaviness I felt on my first play. She really shakes you by being open about personal conversations that many would rather keep away from the music they put out. That's just the kind of artist she is, and the woman she has grown to become. Broken Silence is a breath of fresh air in a time when a lot of things are falling apart in society yet those issues are not reflected in our music. Although this tape is more personal than social, it plays its role in keeping to the truths of what real human beings, especially women with the gift of rap, go through. My heart is unravelled all over again as I replay it to write, but it is also very proud of the honesty and strength that this project exudes. This is rhythm and poetry. Praise be!