Back to Basics – The African Beat

By: Ikho Gaushe

The album, Isina Muva is a hip hop album that Sjava released last year in July, however it became popular between late last year or early this year. The title of the album “Isina Muva” is a saying in IsiZulu which says “Isina Muva Liyabukwa”, which basically means “Save the best for last”.

The message in the album is quite diverse, Sjava sings about the positives and the negatives of love. He also sings about appreciation of elders, in a song titled “ugogo”. There is a song titled “Hlasela” (attack) featuring Areece, this song is a motivation to the youth of South Africa “hustle” or fight to make a living. The lyrics emphasise determination and this tells us a lot about the artist’s character. In a nutshell, in the album Sjava expresses the issues faced by the youth in our country.

In an interview with V-entertainment (Vuzu), he states that three fans claimed that they survived suicide after listening to the album. This means that the album oozes hope. The typical African Zulu beats seems to be Sjava’s signature sound. A lot of the songs in the album tell us a lot about where Sjava comes from and his life experiences.  The deep Zulu lyrics resemble Sjava as a typical Zulu man. He is also extremely lyrical, he is a genius when it comes to song writing. The deep lyrics sung in Zulu actually triggers one’s imagination. This means that he is an outstanding songwriter. The upbeat tempo songs really made it to my “feel good song” list. The songs never disappoint to keep me company while I’m working. The slow tempo songs and soothing lyrics make really reflect on life and all the troubles we face and actually relate to them.

What I really like about Sjava’s album is that it is an original South African hip hop album. The tracks in the album really gives you a taste or experience of real African music. This is quite rare in hip hop music of South Africa, with all the hip hop artists trying to imitate the American hip hop style. Nobody is trying to add some “African flavour” to the hip hop industry.

Critics may criticise and say Sjava uses similar beat and that all his music is the same. Nothing excites me more than listening to an album then being able to engage with the artist by relating to his music and Sjava’s album does just that. For me, a disk of Isina Muva is definitely a must have in your South African hip hop collection if you are looking for something different.

 

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