Anatii. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Medicine For The Soul: Anatii Finds His Sound on His Soothing New Album ‘Iyeza’

Iyeza is the sound of a day turning into a gorgeous twilight.

Iyeza is a masterpiece. It's music for the soul, with Anatii providing an intensely healing listen, which is fitting, considering the album title literally means "medicine" or "anti-dote."

The album contains percussion, chants, guitars, bass lines and melodies associated with an array of sounds. There are elements of everything from gospel, maskandi and mbhaqanga to hints of Afropop and hip-hop. Anatii follows the path taken by South African artist such as Mashayabhuqe KaMamba, Sjava, Mlindo The Vocalist and Bongeziwe Mabandla in fusing elements of traditional South African music with newer sounds.


The album-opener "Wena" is a dreamy wedding song that encapsulates the sense of romance, praise and culture Iyeza explores. On "Ehlathini," the artist is clearly in his musical pocket. With the refrain "we suffer through the weekdays," the track compares the struggles of Joburg to the solace of nature. From those hardships, Anatii aims to transport us to a place more serene. What makes this album so appealing is his invitation to us to actively go with him, rather than stumble upon the destination.

Anatii. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

He literally asks "usa hamba nami?" on "U Sangthanda Na?" where he channels the voice of the late Ray Phiri. On the standout "Ndaweni," which is reminiscent of the maskandi duo Shwi NoMntekhala, he talks about being recognized wherever he goes.

The songs on Iyeza range from romantic to longing, but more immediately, fuse Anatii's hip-hop background with diverse sounds. It's this duality that makes this album such a wholesome listen, with the switches in mood combining for a replenishing experience.

Read: AKA, Anatii and the Gospel of Money & Power

"Ntloni," a certified banger, juxtaposes Xhosa chants with a bustling bassline and hypnotic xylophone while "Ngozi" lulls you into a daze as it's centred around looped notes. That's until the beat drops, and it's a quarter to turn up, providing a similar feeling to the infectious "Holy Mountain" off his collaborative album with AKA, Be Careful What You Wish For. Building on those sounds and songs like "Thanda" from his debut album Artiifact, is proof that this is the sound Anatii has been working towards for a long time.

He tackles all the songs on Iyeza, with IsiXhosa at the forefront of his delivery and his knack for catchy ad libs will keep you hooked. While listening to this offering, there's definitely no need for sleep, as he serenades on "Vuka," which incidentally embodies the album's ability to simultaneously hype and calm you. Iyeza is the sound of a day turning into a gorgeous twilight. It's warm and the music is buttery, romantic and refreshingly spiritual.

Iyeza amalgamates a range of influences into a cohesive 33 minutes. "Ndaweni" for instance, draws on maskandi but incorporates the classic "hey, hey, hey" hip-hop chant. These moments are when the texture of Iyeza is revealed. The layers of production and subject matter centre both Anatii's musical influences and the artist's spirituality. Traces of gospel are apparent on "God Is My Best Friend" and "Zion (Interlude)," while the music video for "Thixo Onofefe" includes religious symbols, candles and a traditional healer exalting the grace of God.

To end the album on this note keeps the listener craving for more and highlights the commendable sequencing of the songs. Considering the myriad of influences the artist draws upon, Anatii accomplishes a sultry synthesis of sounds. Between the lush bass lines, traditional instrumentation and enchanting rhythms, Iyeza is designed to let you be a repository for the magic pouring out. With the help of producer BLFR, the soundscape Anatii achieves is his most cohesive yet. In making Iyeza proudly Xhosa and also a bop, this is Anatii coming full circle as the Electronic Bushman. Oh, and he did it all with no features!

Stream Iyeza below and/or download it here.

Read: Meet BLFR, the 19-Year-Old Producer Behind Hits From AKA, Anatii, Riky Rick & Others

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The South African hip-hop artist and producer shared the first episode of an ongoing documentary series titled Welcome To My Life. The first episode, which he shared today, shows Flame and his affiliates—the likes of Ecco, Mellow and others—going about their business.

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In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

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Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

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Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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