This is an article series where I cover independent songs and artists who I believe are releasing great stuff and have amazing potential. At the end of each of these articles there’ll be curated playlists with the featured artists music and other hidden gems. Without further ado, this is the Second Edition. You can read on the first edition here.
Basic Info: Francis Jay is a 20 year old experimental soul crooner born and bred in Tshwane. A sound engineering student, he produces his own music and releases it through his own independent label, Wanderlost. He released his debut EP, W N T R, late last year with new music on the way. Jay is armed with an evocative voice which he uses to great effect. His style of music is extremely ethereal, filled with instrumentation and harmonies that are focused on creating and enhancing atmospheric moods.
Recommendation: Nowhere. Francis Jay describes the music of W N T R simply as “a season, a feeling”, with each track encapsulating a different emotion. Nowhere sets it sights on heartbreak and attacks it with spellbinding precision. The sounds of rain introduce this almost acapella duet with Leigh Audrey. Melancholic vocal riffs and haunting harmonies serve as the backdrop for Audrey and Jay to paint the picture of a fractured relationship as the rain continues to pour. The vocal production in this song is stellar with powerhouse performances from both artists. Jay and Audrey bare their insecure thoughts in an immersive experience that warrants repeat listens.
Basic Info: Hailing from North Pretoria but living in Johannesburg, comes Roho also referred to as Broken Metal. Working part-time at a bookstore, this artist has yet to drop a full mixtape or EP but has a stellar collection of singles to get into. Roho’s style of music really experiments with a lot of styles and soundscapes across blues, neo-soul, hip-hop, and PBR&B. One of the things I enjoy the most about Roho’s music is how intimately confessional it comes across. That armed with how disarming his vocal tone is, makes for compelling listening.
Recommendation: NSA. The best way that I can describe NSA is intoxicating, both as a listening experience as well as thematically. The song details a rather tumultuous sexual relationship that Roho is trying to recover from. The song makes various allusions to addiction and the withdrawal symptoms that come with it. Frequent collaborative producer, Doou$hii sets the tone with a hypnotic mid-tempo production that Roho rides in a way that is both nonchalant and affected. This song is one of my most played tracks in the last month.
Vogue The Hippie
Basic Info: Vogue The Hippie is a 20 year old creative representing Umkomaas, Durban. With a name that comes from her love of antiques and celestial aesthetics, her artistic conquests stretch past the vessels of music and into the arts as a whole. Her style of music puts the genres of jazz, soul and neo-soul into an alternative space, re-imagining it for the current decade. Her first EP, Seven, dropped in late 2016. She has since dropped three further singles and is currently working on her next project.
Recommendation: Chase (The Runner). Chase is a slice of easy listening that feels like it was made for summer chilling. Lyrically, the song is a series of self-reflective musings where Vogue’s thoughts wander from people’s perceptions of her to where she is right now. What really sells the song for me is Kay Budda’s production and how well Vogue’s tone enhances it. Budda provides a soulful mid-tempo production that is both dreamy and vibey and Vogue matches the production with a introspective, sensual and playful vocal performance.
Kenisa (Forever Royal)
Basic Info: Kenisa, a 20 year old singer-songwriter from East Pretoria, is one 1/2 of Forever Royal. A 3rd year student from Rhodes University, Kenisa is a multi-instrumentalist that produces his own music. His style of music takes heavily from the best of PBR&B, with some of his songs leaning on hip-hop influences. His first mixtape 4 Am: Sad Tapes dropped last September with the follow-up set to drop soon.
Recommendation: Lost. From the ominous riff that opens the song to it’s climax, Lost is a monster single that finds Kenisa firing on all cylinders. Thematically, the song finds Kenisa making a plea to a female who seems to be spiralling out of control. The monster production is PBR&B gold, from the emo lyrics and delivery down to the trap beats and ominous bass that balances it out. The song fluidly infuses multiple hooks into it’s structure like an anthem tailor-made for a stadium and I can see myself in a crowd chanting “How’d you get so lost now” at the end of his concert set. To be cheesy, Lost is a song that was made for the listener to get lost in.
Basic Info: Our next artist is currently based in Randpark, Johannesburg but originally from Durban. Yuang is a full-time independent hip-hop artist. When asked about his age he replies that he’s 300. This a metaphor to say where he defined age as a concept, that information and wisdom can be learned regardless of an age. It’s this same concept that guides the title of his latest project that dropped on Sunday titled 300. Sonically, his music revels within the genres of trap and modern hip-hop.
Recommendation: Blue Faces. Yuang is an incredibly versatile and consistent rapper and one of his strongest qualities is his understanding of song structure. His music usually has well-crafted hooks and catchy flows suited for turning up which is what makes Blue Faces standout. Blue Faces is a collaboration featuring Dominic that throws a lot of those cautions to the wind because the song has no chorus and is just straight up bars. Split in two halves, Dominic opens the song and expertly sets the scene before Yuang lets rip some of his best and hardest bars uninterrupted for almost two minutes; one of the key one-liners in this song reads: “yeah you call yourself a trapper, but that’s only because you can’t rap.” Yuang shows off the best of his rap skills on this track, expertly switching flows, throwing disses and plain spitting his thoughts on various issues. Yuang may have more club and radio-ready records but this rings as one of the best of his growing career.
The remaining artists on the playlist include musicians who we’ve covered before like That Ego as well as other tracks from other trailblazers with upcoming releases who we’d like to cover in the future like Mikhale Jones, ThandoNje and L.S Deen. My personal favourite tracks despite the one’s previously highlighted are Dallas’ Eye’m Just Saying, Lookatups Gibela, StormDee Parker’s Peer Pressure and Coopay Sounds’ Shmoke. Enjoy.