ASAP Shembe’s Remix  Edition of His Debut Album ‘Amarekere’ is Essential Listening

ASAP Shembe’s Remix Edition of His Debut Album ‘Amarekere’ is Essential Listening

ASAP Shembe teams up with producers Daev Martian, KaeB, Buli, Ty Dilla and more for a remix edition of his debut album 'Amarekere'.

A year since the release of his debut album Amarekere, South African artist ASAP Shembe releases a remix edition of the project.

Producers such as KaeB, Buli, Ty Dilla Beats and Daev Martian remix some of Amarekere's 11 songs. While a song like "Giyani" maintains its trap-based feel, a song like "Ngulube" takes on a completely different form—Ty Dilla's remix is embellished with a lush EDM-inspired beat and refreshing verses from Robin Thirdfloor, Gyre and Shembe himself. It's one song that's guaranteed multiple repeats. "Iwile" is simply stripped of all instrumentation and the listener is treated to an acapella version.

The original version of "Gqom Queen", a song about being dribbled by a lover, was built on a dark trap beat. The remix maintains the same coldness but with a beat built on sinewy pads that envelop the gust of emotion being expressed.

The surprise though is the last song, "Kamalandela (Swish 808 Remix)" which taps into the omnipresent amapiano sound by way of log drums and the customary yanos bassline. Amapiano hasn't been this spiritual since you first heard it.

In a 2020 interview, ASAP Shembe said of Amarekere:

"My biggest aim was to start conversations. We have these conversations in places like Braamfontein, [the city centre] and Maboneng, but they also need to happen where it's affecting the people the most. Here [in the hood], those things aren't spoken about. Music is a catapult to a lot of conversations we are afraid to have."

One such song that does that is "Giyani" in which the artist raps about infidelity and connects it to issues such as corruption and money. Shembe recently released a music video for the song which shows details about the hood and sees Shembe running for his life after a man tries to hit him for dating his sister.

ASAP Shembe - Giyani (Official Video)

The production on the original Amarekere, which was mostly handled by Shembe himself, is characteristically moody—deep basslines, spine-chilling keys and a selection of synths and pads create a pleasing contrast with the urgency in his vocals that portrays the existential angst evoked in his songs.

The artist described the title, which literally translates to "rubber bands" as "the battle of tension and friction". "The back and forth that he goes through throughout the songs," he said referring to himself in the third person. "Every time he feels like he's about to snap, he keeps on finding ways to censor himself again."

Even though the narrative remains the same on the remix edition of Amarekere as the vocals remain unchanged, the focus on the remix project is on production. It's entertaining to hear the selection of producers reimagining and reinterpreting the album's songs. The project takes on a different life that makes it a worthy listen to the returning listener, and ensures new listeners are treated to the same full meal just with a different recipe and serving suggestion.

With the release of Amarekere (Remix Edition), ASAP Shembe is not only extending the shelf life of his 2020 offering but stretching himself and his collaborators creatively.

Amarekere (Remix Edition) is available exclusively on Bandcamp.