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Spoek Mathambo - Mshini Wam

Jess.   (29 reviews)

Posted: 06/25/2010 | Comments: 0 | Rate:

“Mshini Wam” is a solo album for Spoek Mathambo, who serves as front man for SWEAT.X and PLAYDOE, groups defined as "electrorap". At 24 years old, he has already made a name for himself internationally with a style he calls Afro-futurism. The album title itself means "My Machine", which to Mathambo means his machine to express a new wave of African music. Well this music is definitely new and different, but will it be a hit?

After listening to the album multiple times, I have mixed feelings on it. I often found myself really getting into a track, only to be left with the feeling that there was something missing. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what that something was; maybe a variety of things. There were points that I expected an increase in tempo or volume. There were times that I thought the song would end, only to have to track drone on with an unnecessary, repetitive verse. Almost every song grabs me in the beginning, but then defaults to repetitive lyrics and hooks that give the feeling that he is just trying to extend the length of the song. There was a few times where I found myself checking to see if we had actually progressed to another track, as some of the beats were almost identical.

Taking a deeper look into the individual tracks, there were a couple I loved and a few that really turned me off. “Mshini Wam”, for example, utilized a battle of the sexes format that has become recently popular. However, instead of providing each gender with their own verse, the women simply repeated verbatim what the males had just sung. Then there is “Douchebag Club”. I had no idea how many times one could say ‘douchebag’ in a four minute period until now. Interestingly, this track also seemed to be a direct attack on the venues that would spin this album. Though it seems that I have a lot of negative feedback, there were parts that I really enjoyed.

Two tracks that I really liked were “Gunboat” and “War on Words”. They are two completely different songs and I like them for separate reasons. “Gunboat” has a catchy, organized, dare I say, commercial sound that I would love to hear on one of my nights out. It would seamlessly flow into any club DJ’s rotation. I enjoy “War on Words” strictly for its great lyrical content. It’s a relatable track with deep meaning without being too pushy. I think Mathambo strives for a message in all of his songs, but in this one he really delivers.

All in all, I think the album is mediocre. I see a lot of promise in it, and listening to “Mshini Wam” has definitely put Spoek Mathambo on my radar. I’m not sold just yet, but I think with a little work, this artist could have the break into the main stream market that he is looking for.

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