So… It’s been a minute since I’ve last done written musical breakdowns and a lot of interesting music has dropped since then. On top of that, I’ve been exposed to an array of different artists with older releases that I’ve been enjoying and wanted to explore more. So with that, I’m introducing Hella Late To The Heat, a format where I can discuss artists and/or songs I may have missed, overlooked or was not aware of during my last breakdown periods.
Melania Amoy – Good Riddance (prod. RO$EGOLD)
In a world where I have control of the playlist during this coming New Year’s Eve, Melania Amoy’s Good Riddance would be a solid contender for songs to lead in 2021. The chorus simply reads: ‘Cause I’m glad that it’s done, yeah I’m glad that it’s over. No longer bound to you, I thank the heavens we’re not meant to be, a resounding sentiment to round-off what has been the most trying year I’ve experienced. Backed by a lush and groovy and production by RO$EGOLD, Amoy nonchalantly launches into one of the most enjoyable kiss-off anthems I’ve heard recently. So, Melanie Amoy is a Johannesburg-based artist whose output is primarily on Soundcloud. She’s been releasing music on the platform for three years, with a stream of single releases this year and yet, I only came across her this spring. Her current sound plays within the frays of contemporary R&B, with jazzy influences that sometimes pull it to more adult-contemporary-sonics. Armed with a youthful tone and captivatingly relatable lyrics, Melania Amoy’s output seems to be growing richer. If like myself you’re late to the party, get your drinks and get strapped in because it still feels like things are heating up.
Nu Edison – We Don’t Die featuring Rhea Blek (prod. Tsukudu)
We’re keeping things in a groovy space with our next pick, also a Johannesburg-based artist, it’s Nu Edison. Born Litha Mdwaba, Nu Edison dropped his latest body of work, Light Bloomer, in August with further output dating back as far as 2016. He’s quite the charismatic rapper whose approach to storytelling leans more to a conversational tone than a punch-line driven one. The song which initially drew me to his catalogue is the bouncy and motivational We Don’t Die, featuring KZN’s very own Rhea Blek. Backed by a soulful Tsukudu production, the track is centred around a reworked version of the popular maxim “we don’t die, we multiply” that finds Edison affirming himself in-spite of his tribulations. Blek takes the song to a more playful space with her carefree and braggadiocious verse which Edison then runs with afterwards as he amps his energy and vocal delivery. A lot of his charm and quirks are on full-display in this track that breathes resilience and attitude in the face of challenges, further amplified by Blek’s breezy disposition. What this culminates in is a delectable and affirming musical experience, that can be used as a pick-me-up, a good time, or personal motivator. A feeling explored further in his Light Bloomer project, especially with personal faves like Get Down.
Nalu – Water-Based (prod. Theodor Moolman & Nalu)
Can we talk about bold entrances for just one moment, just one, because this Cape-Town based chanteuse offered up a free lesson in it. When a song starts with light jazzy acoustics and is then launched with the lyric: “I know you ain’t just any brother, cause when you hit it sh*t just opens up my pussy chakra…”, you know exactly what type experience you’re strapping in for and man does Nalu deliver on it. I somehow missed her ethereal debut release, Tacenda, when it dropped early last year but swiftly joined the train during Lockdown as well after her Elizee-collaboration in Nonchalant. Water-Based is a welcomed sonic progression that finds Nalu playing within the realms of jazz and blues as she explores how secure she is in being wholly intimate with her partner. Moreso, it explores the enjoyment and power she receives within these interactions as an active agent who both receives and gives. It’s a confident proclamation that is sexual, sensual, fluidly breezy, and to paraphrase Nalu’s own assertion; an addiction.
Joda Kgosi – Truth Is (prod. Elizee)
Next up is the youngest artist of this list, a rising teenage sensation hailing from the city of gold called Joda Kgosi. Joda Kgosi burst onto the scene with her viral hit Lunatic, an emotionally charged song that finds her swimming in heartache and swiftly followed that up with Truth Is, in August. In many ways Truth Is is both a sonic and narrative sequel to Lunatic as it finds her finally letting go of the chaotic relationship by unloading her feelings about the boy she once loved, and it is gloriously scathing. Backed by a signature summery Elizee production, Kgosi doesn’t hold back on the venom as she calls out her grievances from inconsistent messaging to being ghosted and gaslit. Her vocal performance is also emotionally layered as it ranges from biting and detached to still wrecked in heartache at times, which when contrasted by the more soothing production provides a listen that is both emotionally raw yet still indelibly catchy. The structure of this song also feels like it has the ability to become a solid contemporary standard, with renditions that can be reimagined seamlessly into other genres like big band, house or even folk/country. Truth Is is a solid display of the potential Kgosi has in being a formidable crossover act and if nothing else, a vessel to diss your previous tumultuous escapades.
LOOKATUPS [Ukiyo CPT] – Umxhentso (prod. The Baker & Denilson)
For full disclosure, this pick is more of a course correction than it is me being late to the listening party. I have been a casual fan of this 20-year old Khayelitsha-based rapper since I came across his trap-tinged bangers, Ebusuku and Gibela, just over two years ago. Within that time-span, he has released a steady stream of singles that showcase his versatility in being an engaging and entertaining rapper. Whilst Slept On is a current favourite, I find him sounding most-compelling whilst waxing lyrical in Xhosa; there’s a bolder attitude that emanates from his vocal. One of the examples can be found within Umxhentso, the opening track of Ukiyo CPT’s debut project Edgecombe; Ukiyo CPT is a rap collective of which Lookatups is a member. Umxhentso has production that is minimalistic, tribal and LOOKATUPS rides on the number with an assured confidence that is quiet in tone yet audacious in feel. He brings us into his traditional celebration whilst telling us about his journey on the come-up. The energy is infectious as you can feel the confidence and the hunger for more. It’s a solid number that introduces Edgecombe whilst teasing part of what makes this rapper special. I’m intrigued to hear the current scope of his sound like when he finally releases his first full-length solo effort. Until then, bump Edgecombe. It’s solidly entertaining and filled with other Cape Town-based rappers and performers you can get into, including Umxhentso track partner Tembi Powers who delivers my one of my favourite songs on the project, Pepper Club.
Poptain – Duffle Bag (prod. Leekay & Bleqboi)
Closing our list is the artist with the oldest trackable output, and is one of Zimbabwe’s more trailblazing exports this year; Poptain. Born Ameen Jaleel Yaseen, this 26-year-old has trackable output dating as far back as 2015, and with the release of The Yardbwoy’s Mixtape is an extremely formidable act in the dancehall space. His sound travels from really sugary and bouncy numbers like the smash hits Fadza Mutengi, Kokai and Yardbwoy opener Pressure to darker soundscapes like Pakurai and my personal fave Duffle Bag. Duffle Bag is a relentless posse-cut that finds the Yardbwory teaming up with Anita Jaxson, MC Kampton, Kanter The Janter and Prosper Fi Real. At a swift 3 minutes, the track fires on all cylinders from Poptain/Jaxson’s intro, that includes a shout-out of the track’s producer, to the final chorus. The sentiment of the song finds Poptain and the crew on the prowl for enough money to get them out of their current poverty. For Poptain, that’s getting enough money to get his landlord off his back, help his grandmother and getting himself a waterbed as an alternative to sleeping on the floor. All the players tell their respective stories over Leekay and Bleqboi’s hypnotic and propulsive production. It’s compelling dark storytelling, it’s a party, it’s crying in the club blues and it’s infectious. Poptain is a confident storyteller with an interesting ear, often contrasting sugary productions with gritty stories. If, like myself, you are a passing fan of dancehall and it’s relative cousins, give Poptain a listen, you might find something you like