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14 Sep

REVIEW: Okmalumkoolkat 100K MaCassette Track By Track Mixtape Review

The first time I ever encountered the Umlazi-born artist known as Okmalumkoolkat, was back in 2013 when I bewilderingly watched the music video for his and LV’s cult classic “Sebenza” being aired on MTV Base. I must admit, despite the song being infectiously catchy and intriguing, there was something quite unsettling about this peculiar rapper’s style. This agitation was somewhat alleviated after hearing his quotable-filled verse on Cassper Nyovest’s heater “Gusheshe”. However after doubling back to his earlier works with Dirty Parrafin and uncovering some of his other lesser known gems like “Bhutyangchaza”  it dawned on me that the reason why I was, to a certain extent, struggling to fully adapt to his bizzaro approach to music was because at the time I was unsuccessful in categorizing him in any one particular hip-hop sub-genre. He isn’t your conscious type rapper, or an attention-craving rapper making commercially viable yet garbage hits. And simply labelling him alternative felt like a lazy attempt at deciphering what exactly he was about. So I gave up on trying to box him in a category and realised that he’s essentially fashioned his own lane.

Suffice it to say, I’ve ultimately become a fan of the man who I believe has the most creative aliases in the game (research all 18 of them!), but it’s taken a while. It’s an undubitable truth that Koolkat’s is one of the staple acts in our local hip hop and alternative scene. Throughout 2013 and 2014 it became evident that Okmalumkoolkat could hold do more than his own against his fellow rappers (such as Riky Rick, Reason, Cassper, JR, AKA, etc.) when it came to guest spot features as they always seemed to leave a lasting impression on the minds of listeners. Nevertheless, the question of whether or not he could put out a solo project started arising, and talks of a new Koolkat EP being released  led me to believe that this question would soon be answered. Holy Oxygen included dope cuts, but it’s lack of depth meant we had no way of truly knowing whether or not he could create a solid project. Let’s see whether 100K MaCassette silences all those with even the smallest bit of doubt, myself included.

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“3310 Flow Intro”

I just want to start off by clarifying that I have no affinity whatsoever with the “hood” or any particular township. My upbringing was purely suburb based, meaning I am an honorary member of the United CheeseBoi Confederation.  But…THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE got me wanting to buy a fresh pair of Dickies along with a new spoti and claim Umlazi as my birthplace. This is literally the best way an Okmalumkoolkat mixtape could possibly begin in my opinion. In fact when I heard about the release of 100K MaCassette, I started envisioning how the overall project would sound and this opening song contains at least 3 times the dopeness I imagined. I’m messing with this HAAARD!

“Usangkhumbula (King B Remix)”

The second track off the tape is yet another remix of the collaborative jam Koolkat dropped with Kid Fonque, Cueber , Johnny Miller, and Andyboi last year. I thoroughly enjoyed the original version, and the subsequent remixes that followed. This 100k MaCasette edition of Usangkhumbula is cool and everything, but I find myself inclining towards the previous versions more than the King B one. However that’s not to say that it’s not dope or serves no purpose on this project.

“Push It f. LV”

The flawless LV/Okmalumkoolkat collaborative track record continues with this one. These two obviously have musical chemistry because anything they produce together is a worthwhile listening experience. The song sees Koolkat rapping over a slightly bouncy electronic hip-hop instrumental, using an effectively simple delivery which it seems has become his signature flow.

“Amantombazane 0.1”

Aside from the lyrics, this version of Amantombazane has a completely different vibe from the original one. It’s once again composed by its original producer, Riky Rick, and features simple downtempo chords throughout. I’m not mad at this song, however I do wish a little more was done with it. It sounds a tad bit bare to me, having said that, that might have been the intention. Oh and I’m also liking the inclusion of these “Ikati Elimnyama” sound bites for the skits.

“Gold Teeth and Carvellas f. Bra Sol & u_Sanele”

Even though I possess neither of the items mentioned in the song’s title, I definitely enjoyed this joint the first time I listened to it earlier this year. All three verses are exceptional and the beat goes in too. It actually kind of sounds like something Tyler the Creator would cook up.  The cut was originally released as a single by underrated Durban hip-hop outfit Big Fkn Gun, but it looks like Zwane has commandeered it as his own for this tape and I’m not really complaining. It doesn’t deviate from the overall sound of the project, but rather slots in it pretty nicely.

“Free 100k MaCassette”

It’s amazing what a catchy bassline and some well placed snares can do for a joint; exhibit A – Free 100K MaCassette. DJ Zharp Zharp reworks Mdu’s “Amabank Book” to create an infectious, hard-hitting beat for the Zulu Michael Jackson to rap over. The running time of the actual song (skit aside) comes in at just over two minutes which is a crying shame because you just want this shit to go on and on, but it’s an anthem nonetheless. I stopped counting all the attention grabbing quotables after the first minute ’cause there are so many. It’s definitely a standout moment on the tape. Then the skit begins and we hear an inebriated Scoop doing a whole bunch of shit talking in a pretty hilarious dialogue with a star struck, overenthused “groupie”.

“Kim Mapikisha 2.5”

If you cannot connect the dots when it comes to meaning of the term Kim Mapikisha, it alludes to a woman who has been endowed with an extraordinarily curvaceous figure (similar to that of a Kim Kardashian). Still unclear to you… let me use it in a sentence. “I spat my best game to her, but despite all attempts I could not bag that Kim Mapikisha”. Lesson over! From the moment this joint starts you know it’s going to be a problem. Like the song that precedes it, it’s obviously a clear radio-friendly banger. The Ganja Beatz instrumental fits both the delivery and subject matter of Koolkat’s rhymes like a glove, and this chemistry results in a truly entertaining joint.

“Siyagunda”

Won’t mention any names, but I seem to remember a certain rapper chronicling their experience of getting their hair cut in a song some time ago. In the process this rapper insulted the intelligence of virtually every music listener on this earth. So when I saw the title of this track I was instantly critical. However it looks like my misgivings weren’t really necessary because the song isn’t bad at all. At least someone got it right!

“Spova Gang f. u_Sanele”

If you were somehow unfamiliar with New Age Kwaito before listening to this tape, you’re in for a treat because 100K MaCassette is riddled with it, this song being one of the moments showcasing this emergent sub-genre. Spova Gang is tremendously reminiscent of old school kwaito and The Good Dokta without a doubt needs to be applauded for creating such a dope instrumental. The delivery of both rappers on the joint mirrors that of kwaito artists who used to do their thing back in kwaito’s heyday.

“Rome f. Ox++, Bra Sol & Nonku Phiri”

Track 10 comes in the form of a song that was released some time ago, but again, I’m not really mad at this move because the song coincides with the overall sound of the tape. The cut sees Okmalimkoolkat and Bra Sol rapping over a percussion-heavy house instrumental with Cape Town-based songstress Nonku Phiri providing some hypnotic vocals throughout. And once again we are treated with the inclusion of another entertainingly hilarious skit.

“Drinks and Music f. Tellaman (Cuebur Remix)”

Like with the case of Gold Teeth and Carvellas, this song is not originally Koolkat’s. He’s decided to use Tellaman’s popular radio hit Drinks and Music which he was featured on, but with a different twist.  I thoroughly enjoyed the original version, but Cuebur’s deep house remix also definitely goes in. The song then transitions into yet another skit from the film “Ikati Elimnyama”

“Round House Gqom (Maramza Sbucardo Edit)”

I always sort of felt like my maker short changed me when it came to the dancing abilities he bestowed upon me, and due to that I never had enough coordination to become an pantsula dancer. But as time went on I grew to accept this skill no being in my arsenal of talents, however listening to this song reignites that repressed disappointment. If you are unsure of what you are listening to at this point, this is what is simply known as Gqom. Gqom is a variation of house that has rapidly grown in popularity in Durban, and it’s dope hearing Koolkat jumping on a beat like this and embracing the emerging sounds of his hometown.

“Sesiyazi Ngekati Elimnyama Skit”

What can I say, it’s a long ass skit using a film sound bite…

“Free 100K MaCassette (Chopped & Screwed by DJ Gatsheni)”

Firstly I’ve got to give a thousand thumbs up for the inclusion of the sound clip from one of Mfundisi Ntshebe’s sermons. I haven’t heard that ish in close to a decade. The song itself is cool too, even though it doesn’t possess a fraction of the energy present in the original version. My issue with this joint is that it might be experimental to a fault or that it might go over the heads of listeners, even those who are akin to Koolkat’s alternative style.

“100K Outro f. Mashayabhuqe kaMamba”

Okmalumkoolkat rounds up the projects with a neatly presented outro alongside his boy and Digital Maskandi originator Mashayabhuqe kaMamba. Malums sends out his heartfelt shoutouts while Mashaya provides layered vocals throughout the joint. Definitely rocking with the last number!

My overall assessment of the mixtape, it’s a dope, vibrant, and memorable collection of songs. By paying homage to older genres like kwaito and making references to iconic items of yesteryear like the Nokia 3310, Koolkat creates an authentic and relatable sense of nostalgia with his latest offering. When it comes to musical projects, one of the things I value the most is the cohesiveness and coherent within the project. Basically one track flowing well into the next and 100K MaCassette definitely succeeds in that department. If this is just the mixtape, one can only imagine what The Jetset Zuper will give his fans come time for the release of a full length album.

If it is still not in your possession, download 100K MaCassette for low price of free.99 below on Soundcloud.

Release Date: 29. 08. 2015

Label: Self-released

Production Credits: The Good Dokta, Ganja Beatz, King B, DJ Zharp Zharp, LV, Solfaktor, Riky Rick, Ox++, Cuebur

Reviewed by Nhlosenhle Mpontshane

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you thought of the review, and which project i should write about next.

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