Strings & Bling is South African rapper Nasty C’s attempt at making a concept album. At 17 songs long, the sophomore, released as part of his newly-inked deal with the Universal Music Group, is a balanced mix of racy rappitty raps and laidback, at times near-poppy songs, some of which sit squarely in the ballad matrix. The results leave one with the nagging feeling that record label meddling meant some compromises had to be made — too many fillers were allowed, for the market.
It’s no coincidence that most of the bangers occur during the first part of the album; this is by design. Songs like “Strings and Bling”, “No Respect”, “Legendary” and “Jiggy Jigga” make up for the messy attempt at mainstream relevance that rears its head at crucial moments of the strings segment.
During the album launch at Zone 6, Nasty C led his backing band with youthful vigour. The variant sonic decisions translated into an entertaining sight in a live performance setting. The hard-swinging drum brawls and slow-sweeping string arrangements; the over-the-top braggadocio and egoless self-reflection; the dancers who riled up the energy of every last one person inside the club; Rowlene’s effortless, gracious embrace on “SMA” — the Durban-born wordsmith controlled the crowd like it was his pastime. Featured performers included Tellaman, Okmalumkoolkat, and Rudeboy Major.