Music

Solo And BETR GANG Set the Benchmark For SA Hip-Hop In 2018

Solo And BETR GANG's new album makes them a hard act to follow.

South African rapper Solo plays the game a bit differently. While most of his counterparts gun for hit singles, he speaks the language of full projects.

Tour Dates, his latest offering, which is the first SA hip-hop release of 2018, is his third album. While .Dreams.A.Plenty (2014) and .Dreams.B.Plenty (2016) are part of an ongoing trilogy, Tour Dates is a collaborative effort with BETR GANG, a crew he is part of alongside producers and rappers Al da 3rd, Subrocc, Solid The Gifted, Th&o and Buks.

Every song on this concept album features a guest representing a city destination that Solo and BETR GANG would like to tour.

The track list resembles tour dates, with each city represented by the featured rapper. Respected rappers L-Tido, K.O., YoungstaCPT, Rouge, Maggz, Kid X, Reason, Moozlie, Reason, P.H., DreamTeam, P. Dot O, Blaklez and N'Veigh all represent their cities through standout verses.

As much as every one of the 10 tracks is near perfect, the highlight of Tour Dates has to be "Top 5." On the song, Solo raps praises to the Soweto-born rapper Maggz, who he considers a G.O.A.T (many of us do, too tbh). Maggz then, on the third verse, proves Solo's point without even trying. That song deserves its own essay.

"Caffeine and other Drugs," the album's first single, highlights the brilliance of the East Rand, an area that is home to the likes of Kwesta, Priddy Ugly, Frank Casino and all three rappers featured on the song. Reason, Kid X and Moozlie each rap about their addictions over high-pitched synths and keys supported by pillars of prominent 808 snares.

"Ngeke Bas'tshele (Dbn)," featuring Durban trio DreamTeam takes the same route sonically.

"Ain't Ready (Limpopo)," which features the producer and rapper P.H. proves Solo can rap over different production styles, as the beat's rhythm is of a higher tempo, and has subtle EDM and kwaito influences.

Sonically, Tour Dates leans towards boom bap without sounding like it just teleported from the 90s. The production is layered with sporadic synths and 808s to give it a modern feel.

It's a great gift for the hip-hop fan who fiends for lyrics, but what sets it aside from similar releases is its musicality. It consists of listenable songs that, even though prioritize rapping, don't overlook the importance of great instrumentals and hooks that are catchy but not lazy and cheesy.

BETR GANG is up to something. Solo and Buks' collaborative album, 2015's We Need A Title is one of South African hip-hop's well-guarded secrets, and so are Al Da 3rd's Twenty Sixteens and Buks' Pegasus.

If this is your first time hearing about BETR GANG, you have a lot of catching up to do. Tour Dates is the perfect place to start.

Listen to Tour Dates below, and download it here.

Music
Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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