Review: Josiah De Disciple’s Latest Album ‘Spirits of Makoela, Vol 2: The Reintroduction’ Effortlessly Blends Amapiano With Jazz and Soul
Producer extraordinaire Josiah De Disciple reintroduces himself on his flawless sophomore album 'Spirits of Makoela, Vol 2: The Reintroduction'.
Throughout his tenure as one half of the JazziDisciples duo, alongside Mr JazziQ, Josiah De Disciple steered clear of the spotlight. Mr JazziQ's mainstream recognition after their split didn't help his cause either. Even though his name, and position, are solidified within the amapiano lexicon, Josiah De Disciple hopes to use his second solo effort to reintroduce himself to the masses, as the title suggests.
On the subject of reintroduction and pushing his image to the fore, the album's cover art features a portrait of Josiah with his thumb and index finger carefully balanced on his chin. It's a stylistic shift from the illustrations presented in his last two projects Spirits of Makoela (2020) and Umbuso Waba'mnyama (2020).
Just like its predecessor, Spirits of Makoela, Vol 2: The Reintroduction showcases the producer's broad musicality, and slightly deviates from the club-centric bangers that so often congest the genre.
From the saxophone solo on "SMS" to the electric guitar licks on "My Story" and the bongo beat solo on "Funguvhu", Josiah incorporates instruments that not-so-many 'piano producers use in their music. . The strings and chords on "Ngale" are almost identical to those used on his 2020 hit "Mama". But, instead of Boohle's heartfelt vocals, the song's vocalisation is minimal and sounds more like scatting. A harmonious "siwelela ngale" is repeated throughout the track.
Jazzy and soulful undertones permeate the project. Album opener "Spirits of Makoela (Badimo)", a great showcase of these undertones at play, begins with a prayer then seamlessly flows into a reverberating synth-laden instrumental around the 2-minute mark. "Sponono" and "Manuel", the tracks that follow, see Josiah team up with one of the biggest names in amapiano, Kabza De Small. On "Manuel", the self-professed "King of Amapiano" laces hypnotic vocals, in which he indistinctly hints at being owed by someone — while Josiah provides the song's dreamy background vocals.
For the Boohle-assisted "SMS", Josiah flipped his own production. The Afro-pop rendition of the song originally appeared on their joint EP. On the song's hook, the talented vocalist cleverly interpolates the line "awungiphenduli ngani?" from the late Busi Mhlongo's "Yaphel'imali Yami". Another similarity shared by the two songs is the concept. Both are about an inconsiderate partner, who after multiple efforts to reach them via mail and SMS, is still unreachable. After the refrain, the song breaks into a heart-throbbing log drum fest.
On this spiritual journey to reintroduction, Josiah brings along a handful of unfamiliar voices such as Fency, Cecil M and Jessica LM. Through his previous works, the "Mama" hitmaker has proven to have a knack for discovering raw talent and working with lesser-known artists. His last project Umbuso Waba'mnyama was a collaboration EP with Boohle who has since risen to mainstream stardom.
Fency appears on the love-stricken anthem, "Sponono", where she boldly belts out: "Sometimes, all you gotta do is ask/ Sometimes, you've got to be spontaneous/ Pull me closer, yeah, I like it that way, yeah/ Shower my cheeks, yeah, with your kisses, yeah/ Sponono-no-no-no-no, no-no-no, my love."
Continuing the love theme, Cecil M details the hardships that come with romantic relationships on "Moratuwa". The album's preceding single "Khuzeka" features yet another unheard-of but impeccably talented vocalist, Jessica LM. The soulful song speaks to the untrustworthiness of humans and how they are quick to turn on one another.
Laidback Sonic Approach
For the second half of the album, Josiah takes a rather laid-back sonic approach; employing the sounds of violins, flutes and guitars as compared to the vocally rich first half. This musical offering follows a structure similar to that of his debut album Spirits of Makoela. On "Violin Blues" and "My Story", with the assistance of session musician Rams De Violinist and producer Da Ish, Josiah ropes in the intermittent jazz influence within the percussive amapiano genre. On all his projects, Josiah always strives to keep the essence of amapiano, often bringing along his tribal house background and Afro-pop production abilities.
One of the album's most enchanting tracks "Funguvhu", comprises a vocal sample of Tirani Club's 2002 song "Funguvhu Tanzwa Mulomo", an old traditional Tshivenda nursery rhyme which translates to "crow, wash your mouth".
In a tweet, Josiah recently claimed that his former partner in beats JazziQ didn't do any actual production on the duo's 2018 hit "Long Lasting". Last year, the duo announced their split, to many fans' disappointment. The duo were mum on the real reasons behind their split and, instead, said they wanted to focus on their individual careers.
You mean the magic I created. 🤔 https://t.co/ecAJPiPvdF— Josiah De Disciple (@Josiah De Disciple)1619766669.0
On its April 30th release day, Spirit of Makoela, vol 2: The Reintroduction was subject to plenty of social media debates, with many comparing it to Mr JazziQ's latest album Party With The English, which came out a week earlier. Sonically, both albums, like most of their projects after the split, do not necessarily sound alike. While his timely exposé of Mr JazziQ may be distasteful and a bit out of character, the album proves why he is a renowned producer and one of the earliest pioneers of the now widely popular amapiano.