Review: Maglera Doe Boy’s Latest Album Is An Engrossing Love Letter to South Africa's Street Corners

Review: Maglera Doe Boy’s Latest Album Is An Engrossing Love Letter to South Africa's Street Corners

Maglera Doe Boy's Shakespearean spin on township rap shines on '2Player [The Digital Score]', his debut offering indebted to video games and long, lazy days at the arcade.

Following Champion Music, his 2020 collaborative EP with rapper 25K and DJ Sliqe, Maglera Doe Boy serves up his debut solo offering titled 2Player [The Digital Score]. Delivering an authentic slice of the South African experience with poise, the album rolls witty punchlines and melodic flows into anecdotes of a township upbringing.

Street Dreams

Sonically and thematically exploring the dichotomy between a grimey come-up and the pursuit of luxury, the 14-track project encapsulates Maglera's vibrant iteration of motswako – straata (the streets). Through the wordsmith's point of view, we see the duality of many a hustler's lifestyle — placing them between trap houses, bodegas and five-star establishments.

Making motswako the mouthpiece of the everyman, Maglera crafts the perfect concept album by chronicling his continued rise to stardom. Over production by Apu Sebekedi, BrianOHaze, Sliqe, Khalil Masia, SKinniez, Kay Couture, Emamkay and Subs, the Klerksdorp native creates a cinematic universe that pays homage to South Africa's street corners.

More than a detached narrator of street life, the hoarse-voiced emcee is very much a part of the fabric of his environment. As a "corner store conversation connoisseur", his lyricism prioritises the hood experience with a visceral poignancy as is evident on his breakout track "Bodega" released in 2018.

Gaming Metaphors Galore

Walking in the footsteps of motswako giants like Morafe, HHP and Khuli Chana (who features on the cautionary "Anjos"), Maglera surveys street dreams, fast-paced lifestyles and the drawing power of success. Between these street tales enclosed in "Plug Talk" and other songs, 2Player is indebted to video games and long days at the arcade serve as a backdrop for Maglera's Shakespearean spin on township rap.

Although MDB's own hood Kanana, is the geographic genesis of his story, the world he builds conceptually places Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Dragonball Z, Pokémon and Castlevania in the same realm. As he chronicles his journey alongside characters like Kaygizm SoulSinger, Sliqe, PatricKxxLee, Reason, pH, DJ Speedsta, Emtee, Gemini Major, Mojileon and Priddy Ugly, Maglera cleverly employs metaphors that reference Tetris and Donkey Kong.

This metaphoric approach provides an outlet for a skilled wordsmith to offer an ode to street culture, as well as celebrate the inhabitants of these worlds. These lives are often referenced but rarely celebrated, and Maglera is keenly aware that he represents "lower class kids from the townships".

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It's in lines like, "Remember you're gold, no soles in the kicks but the poetry come from the soul," off "Tetris Brickz Extendo" that a sociopolitical outlook shines through and Maglera offers some hope and a semblance of a destiny controlled beyond joysticks.

Maglera Doe Boy - 10 Deep (Official Music Video)

That same solidarity is offered by TEET La Flex on the drill-tinged "Mortal Kombat" when he spits, "You know who my gang is (Genghis), you can never con (Khan) us". These sharp turns are what make 2Player such an engrossing listen with the melodic "City of Angels", harmonised "Rugals Sonnet" and jazzy "Bodega Remix" further displaying Doe Boy's musicality.

2Player may be anchored by booming soundscapes, and the rattling basslines of "10 Deep" and "DONKEY KONG INFINITE", but what truly defines the album are the street idioms wedged between vernacular lyricism and subtle melodies. More pointedly, this digital score perfectly represents Maglera's character arc. This is the soundtrack of a man of the streets who's on the cusp of greatness, and who self-leaked his debut so the "kids in the trenches" could easily access it.

Stream 2Player [The Digital Score] on SoundCloud and Audiomack and download it on Google Drive.