Tumi Molekane – Happy Birthday

Those of us who exist inside the matrix of unremitting on-line presence and social network interaction would’ve undoubtedly bore witness – wittingly or otherwise – to a week-long spectacle in which 140-character and longer analyses of Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control”  trended among hip hop heads and hangers-on. I found this critique by Spin Mag particularly illuminating.

As the week ends, Tumi Molekane serves up a monumental think-piece which, in just over three minutes, abstracts his agility as an emcee, putting him yet again at the forefront of critical acclaim in rap circles. Witness as he goes full-throttle over issues ranging from said song by Big Sean, the deeply-seated perception of Africa as ‘the dark continent’, and rap fans’ reaction to Reason’s remix of “No Sleep. He states:

When Reason did that gig after leaving the hospital, his son died/ motherfucker his son died/ you checking for hot lines, I am saying let’s unplug

Through multiple vocal inflections, swift-slung cadence, and impeccable breath control, Tumi the wordsmith teleports the listener to alternative outposts where compulsory engagement with words and their structure is required. He invades aural spaces to paint picturesque narratives of definitive lyrical acumen, simultaneously lambasting asinine rap music fanaticism – the ‘who killed it’ nature so endemic to hip-hop fan-boys and girls alike. Not to dismiss the who-killed-who game. Lamar’s incident this week cemented a back-to-basics, let’s-get-lyrical approach which has been threatening to engulf the horizon since Nas declared hip-hop to be dead. That is a good thing!

Mr. Molekane goes haywire over the sparse groove of Keri Hilson’s 2009 song “Turning me on” (he raps: “I chop an old beat cuz I am an OG/ that put heat on them kids, Joseph Koni“), invoking names of African emcees whom he deems worthy of mention in the process.  Here is a man who, subsequent to eschewing tertiary education to chase a dream, had to endure the scourge of anonymity as part of the Jozi underground in the early 2000 before graduating through the ranks of club performances and open mic sessions in Melville and its surrounds. He’s escaped unscathed from countless accusations from industry peers for being a self-aggrandising egomaniac. He’s even emerged, arguably stronger and wiser, from the break-up of his ten-year partnership with his brothers in musical arms, The Volume.  This is an artist who has weathered different phases of his career, a man intent on inventing yet another phase for him to exist in. Gutsy!

*For a transciption of the lyrics, go here.

**To download the song, go here

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