Album review: Sizwe is making conscious rap cool again
by: Armand Mukenge - 29 September 2017
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsch is arguably one of the hardest working young people at the moment. In between getting a PhD at Oxford University and writing an award-winning book, he also found time to record and release a Hip-hop album. Titled Democracy and Delusion, the album is an extension of his recently released book by the same name.
While many young’uns may know Sizwe as an academic or social commentator, if you are in your late twenties, you may remember his beginnings as part of the rap trio Entity. The group featured him, Nhlanhla Makenna and AKA, yes Kiernan Forbes. Considering his background, it comes as no surprise that Sizwe decided to release a hip-hop album.
While AKA has become known for his party tunes and club bangers, Sizwe took a different route for Democracy and Delusion as he tries to revive conscious rap in the country.
The album kicks off with Thina Sizwe. The song details his upbringing and explores the complexities of navigating the world with a father who was a black politician father and an activist white mother.
While personal, the song is not just about the Oxford graduate, it really is a look at the complicated history of the country.
On Thina Sizwe, his rhymes fail to capture your attention. The beat is dull. He focuses more on telling the story than the delivery of his bars. The song feels like bad early 90s hip-hop tune.
While Thina Sizwe is a disappointing start to the album, it picks up from the second song.
From Imbi Lendawo to Sifuna Umhlaba, the album references a lot of struggle songs, creating a very relatable tone to the album. It is clear that the album is not just about entertainment, it is a strategic political move.
Much like the political party that he seems to lean to Economic Freedom Fighters, Sizwe understands the power of music in South Africa.
In the past two years, the political party have released songs such as Baba Ka Duduzane and Pay Back The Money to try make young people engage with political issues.
This album is an extension of that, it is trying to reach the youth using a relevant medium
The strategy works too, by the time you get halfway through the album you will be upset. “See the hunger, the anger, now they’re praying for your defeat Marikana, Nkandla and spy tapes is deceit,” he says on The President, reflecting on the state of the nation.
The standout songs from the album are Singamasoja featuring Solo and Busisiwe Seabe and the track Mambush featuring Van-Go Linomtha.
The album is triggering and emotional. ” Give us the land if you really care, take down the shacks if you really care, ” he says in Mambush reminding us of the empty promises from our politicians. It calls on all of us to do something if we really care
At times, it seems like Sizwe is trying too hard to make songs that have mass appeal. The song Born to Fight has an electro feel and in parts, the beat of the song oddly sounds like Justin Bieber’s, What Do You Mean.
So is the album worth your time? Yes. Music plays an important part in reflecting the times, while his sound may be slightly out of touch, the message has never been more relevant
The album gets a rating of 7/10