New, but disappointing

Aloe Blacc: Good Things (Just Music)

Aloe Blacc is no newcomer to the music industry, having made what can safely be called progressive hip-hop for a large part of his career.

Good Things
, a soul-funk album produced by the Brooklyn-based Truth and Soul Productions team, is a decided change in direction that is reaping welcome financial rewards for this rapper, singer, producer and DJ.
The catchy, heart-wrenching lead single, I Need a Dollar, is the theme song of HBO channel’s How to Make It in America, a synching deal that probably sent the album’s sales through the roof and ensured that his label, Stone’s Throw, will keep putting out the groundbreaking music it has been doing for the past 15 years.

This offering can be seen as Blacc’s recession diary, in which love, life and the fight for survival continue in an oppressive economic climate. It is awash with wah-wah chops, taut horns and crisp lyrics that betray Blacc’s background as an MC.

But although Blacc is a competent singer backed by a tight band, the album does nothing to elevate his chosen template to new heights. It is simply an exercise in time travelling by a brother from the future. — Kwanele Sosibo

aKING: The Red-blooded Years
(Rhythm Records)

Sometimes, listening to an aKing song, I can’t help imagining that the vocalist is singing off a tele-prompter. He never seems to actually be listening to the words. There is a disjuncture between the words and the music, an absence of affect. It is like Bon Jovi doing Tubeway Army covers.

Yet there can be something appealing about aKing’s relentless mining of stream-of-consciousness phrases and early 1990s riffs, something fanboyish about the way they rock out with their influences out.

Others might hear more emotion in their execution, but I hear a distancing, hypermodern flatness that says more about the rock landscape in South Africa than any aggressive Fokof anthem or melodious ­Parlotones jingle.

It is not what their fans hear, I assume. As always, there will be a different judgment made by those for whom the product is crafted. aKing are very aware of their audience. They won’t carve out a new market share with this offering, but merely satisfy the converted. — Chris Roper

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

2019: The ones who left us

From Uyinene Mrwetyana, Oliver Mtukudzi to Xolani Gwala, Mail & Guardian remembers those who have passed on

More battles ahead for domestic worker unions

Florence Sosiba, speaks to the Mail & Guardian about how important domestic workers are and exclusion in the COIDA

“Life has been good to me, considering where I come from” – Xolani Gwala

Just over a year ago, veteran radio presenter Xolani Gwala’s cancer was in remission. He spoke to the Mail & Guardian once he was back on air.

Kanya Cekeshe’s lawyer appeals decision not to grant him bail to the high court

Kanya Cekeshe’s legal team filed an urgent appeal at the Johannesburg high court on Tuesday against Monday’s judgment by magistrate Theunis Carstens.

Leader’s principal aim to build IFP

Gravitas: Velenkosini Hlabisa brings his experience to his new post as leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Police Minister Bheke Cele addresses Jeppestown

Police minister Bheki Cele visited Jeppestown on Tuesday to speak to business owners and community leaders.

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years

Former state security minister Bongo back in court

Bongo and his co-accused will appear in the Nelspruit magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga over charges of fraud, corruption and theft

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday