Every year, a new phrase is coined to usher in the South African festive season. This year, “throats are open” became the groover’s call to action. However, the music industry didn't take the festive season off, like their grooving counterparts. In fact, a few released new music that you may have missed during ‘open throat’ season.
To start, 2018 was a stellar year for Sho Madjozi! Between Afropunk New York, performances around the continent, and the music video release of her celebrated single “Huku”, Madjozi owned 2018. On December 14, her highly anticipated debut album, LIMPOPO CHAMPIONS LEAGUE dropped. Opening the 13 track album is Makhadzi, a fellow Tsonga musician, relaying praises for Madjozi to a live crowd. Without making a gimmick of traditional Tsonga music and sound, Sho Madjozi flows over her culturally inspired beats with guest features by Kwesta, Ycee, and more. The album is high energy, full of spirit, and truly cements Sho Madjozi as a noteworthy and talented member of South Africa’s evolving music industry.
Another artist who dropped a brilliant body of work is Sjava. His post Grammy nod project, UMQHELE, features the likes of Buhlebendalo, Anzo, and Fatso to name a few. 'Rhythm and Poetry (Rap)' is not exclusive to English speakers, and once again Sjava is the evidence. From start to finish, listeners are presented with his personal style of storytelling through rich lyrics, smooth beat production, and relatable subject matter. For this reason, this 18 track album is the epitome of easy listening. The use of instruments like the saxophone and guitar, as well as the piano, often juxtaposing the occasional ambient trap beat, and traditional sounds, like those of bones being thrown, put Sjava’s sophomore album in a league of its own.
Similarly, Shane Eagle is no stranger to excellent flow. His December drop, NEVER GROW UP, is a seven track EP. The rapper is candid in the delivery of his thoughts on the meaning of money, race relations (with particular emphasis on those of romantic relationships), and commitment in relationships. The cover art features a tearful young Shane; transposed with illustrations related to adult life, like depression and world economics, punctuated by a bold call to action that doubles as the project's title. His featureless EP takes on a far smoother sound, including jazzy saxophone inserts and piano chords reminiscent of mid-1900s Jazz restaurant music. Sonically pleasing and to the point, Shane Eagle’s latest offering leaves audiences wanton for more.
If these December drops are anything to go by, it's safe to say that South Africa will have a musical 2019.