Audio

A-Reece, Ecco & Wordz’ EP Might Be the Best South African Rap Release You'll Hear This Year

L3 (Long Lost Letters) will thoroughly entertain you.

While caught up in the hype of new albums by superstars such as AKA, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé, you might have missed a gem of a project. South African rappers, A-Reece, Ecco and Wordz, released L3 (Long Lost Letters), an EP that just might be the best South African rap release you will hear this year.

L3 is an impressive display of great raps and beats. While there are no songs about racism, fragile masculinity and all the other ills rappers need to address in order to be recognized by scholars as potent artists, it would be a travesty of justice to dismiss L3 and not recognize its excellence.


On the project, Reece, Ecco and Wordz, who are all members of the popular Pretoria-based hip-hop collective The Wrecking Crew, tell their own stories of growing up, getting into the game, meeting shady characters, and learning about people's shitty ways. The autobiographical opening song "Dark Daze," sees the rappers reflecting on how far they've come in the game, highlighting the lowlights of their lives and careers.

The second song "Better Daze (May 25th)," is the opposite—it's a celebration of the present day. That date is special to A-Reece and The Wrecking Crew as his video for the song "Meanwhile In Honeydew," which was released independently after he left Ambitiouz Entertainment, reached a million views. On the song, A-Reece raps: "Never too busy to take a moment to sit and pray/ 21, and life is moving at a different pace/ 21, I still have demons that I gotta face/ Me going through it day-to-day, I'm growing stronger faith/ May 25th, I can't believe, we hit a million views/ The only way to change the game is to break the rules."

It's such penmanship—direct, eloquent and effective—that characterizes L3. Clever but accessible wordplay, bars that sit perfectly over beats, and coherent song concepts that are evidence of chemistry among the three rappers, is what you'll find on all nine tracks. The trio have mastered the craft of making hooks that are catchy without being corny and mundane, whether rapped or sung.

Read: B3nchMarQ and the Art of Making Something From Nothing

Most of the songs revolve around the life of a young adult—songs like "B T P H" (an acronym for "bring that pussy here"), "Juliet Rose" and "XXX" are littered with stories of casual sex—threesomes aren't an usual occurrence in the lives of these young'ns.

On "Welcome To My Life," the trio muse on their lit lives, they're smoking the best shit and living the life on the road. The hook goes: "Baby boy dropped the hits/ Baby boy copped a crib/ Me and the gang I'm with/ That's how the cash is split/ Baby boy gone, he missing/ I'm never home, I trip/ Smoking on tangerine."

A-Reece, Ecco and Wordz are young, and their lives are headed in the right direction, and Long Lost Letters is a celebration of that. Unlike most celebratory projects, however, L3 is a bit reserved sonically. Most of the beats are mid-tempo, split halfway between boom bap and trap. Most of the production is handled by Mash Beatz and A-Reece, and has a uniformity that doesn't lead to monotony.

Read: The 11 Best South African Trap Producers

L3 is soulful by way of samples, keys and the overall warm accent of the production. Fellow member of TWC, Flame, provides hazy vocals on the second half of "XXX."

Nothing is more pleasing than listening to an artist having fun with their craft. Listening to L3 feels like you are watching a reality show of the three just living their lives, and getting occasional visits from their crew mates and friends, Flame, Ex Global and IMP Tha Don, who appear on "XXX," "Holy Trinity (New Money)" and "A Hunnid and Fifty."

And, just like with most reality shows depicting young people living their best lives, what you see will either have you shaking your head in judgment or just sitting there, wishing your boring ass life was as exciting.

This is easily one of the best rap releases of 2018 so far, A-Reece, Ecco and Wordz are great rappers and they made a collection of equally great rap songs that sound great together, without trying to be a lot of things at once. As the adage goes, less is more.

Interview
Photo: Mariela Alvarez.

Interview: ÌFÉ Blends Music & Religion to Honor Those Who Have Died During the Pandemic

Producer and percussionist Otura Mun talks about his latest EP, The Living Dead, and how he traces the influences of West Africa in his new work.

There are bands that open up a spiritual world through their music. ÌFÉ is one example. An electro-futurist band that fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms and Jamaican dancehall with Yoruba mystical voices. With the success of their 2017 debut album "IIII+IIII" (pronounced Eji-Ogbe), ÌFÉ has reached an audience that is looking for Caribbean and contemporary sounds.

The Puerto Rican-based band just released a new EP, The Living Dead- Ashé Bogbo Egun, that aims to heal and honor those who have died during this pandemic. Otura Mun, the band leader, is an African-American producer and percussionist, who began a personal journey about a decade ago, when he landed in San Juan, and decided to move there. He learned Spanish, dug deep into his African ancestry and started to practice the Yoruba-Caribbean religion of Santería.

ÌFÉ, which means "love and expansion" in Yoruba, ties two worlds, music and religion, artistically. This new EP modernized prayer songs to hopefully make them more accessible to a younger generation. OkayAfrica spoke with Otura Mun on his latest work.

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