Black Coffee Music is King in review
We’ve given Black Coffee Music is King a good solid listen and here are our thoughts…
The industry trembles each time Black Coffee makes a move; such is the star power of the DJ and Producer who has carved a “Black Coffee” sized niche in the dance music galaxy.
Widely felt reverberations were therefore no surprise when the super DJ released a surprise EP several weeks ago.
Titled “Music is King” the six-track project is a showcase of vintage Black Coffee; soulful vocals floating on ethereal Jazz inspired beats that are undeniably African.
This one is for the day-one Black Coffee fans.”
Msaki, Mlondi Ngcobo, Samthing Soweto, Mbuso Khoza, Jazz muso Nduduzo Makhathini and Zhao, a Los Angeles based Indie Soul artist, make up the talented cast of collaborating artists.
These are all artists who are about the craft in its purest form and their inclusion indicates the direction the project was most likely intended to take; being about the MUSIC.
The EP’s mood is set by “Ndod’emnyama” the opening track featuring the formidable vocal talents of Samthing Soweto.
Two minutes 37 seconds of blissful harmonies later, Mondli Ncobo saunters on in the form of “Ilala”, a track that sounds like it was tailor made for the singer’s intense style.
It’s on track three where I lose the last remaining shreds of my composure.
This lapse stems from the realization that one of my deepest, most intimate musical fantasies of Black Coffee collaborating with Msaki, comes to life in the form of “Wish You Were Here”.
Best kept secrets…
In my opinion Msaki is one of South Africa’s best kept “secrets” and here supported by Black Coffee’s exquisite melodies, she delivers the midpoint pinnacle of the EP.
Delivered with the heart-aching longing of a distant lover, Msaki sings about how she yearns that the other person was present.
With this neediness still lingering in the air, the EP proceeds to “Any Other Way”, another sparkling diamond among gems. Voiced by Zhao and with a Co-Production nod to Karyendasoul, this thundering track starts of somewhat restrained before exploding into multi-layered futuristic sounding synths.
That Karyendasoul gets acknowledgement from a luminary such as Black Coffee is testament of the emerging producer’s pedigree. Karyendasoul has already proved his production chops on outstanding tracks like his remix of Jackie Queen’s “Love Will Wait”, the “Spiritual Takeover” EP co-signed by no less than Kenny Dope and a host of other top-notch releases.
The upcoming beat maker laughs when he talks about how “Any Other Way” was actually from a remix that never really made it out.
“I had two remix opportunities last year where both of them featured the Los Angeles based artist Zhao”.
“First one was ‘Had It All’ which made it out, so “Any Other Way” was from a remix concept I did called ‘The Question’.
“Katlego Swizz (Surreal Sounds Music) suggested that we remake the beat and have Zhao write and record new vocals, approach it with the very same mentality and it actually worked out to be an original,” says Karyendasoul.
He then reworked the whole beat and sent the idea to Amaru da Costa (Black Coffee’s manager).
As fortune would have it, Black Coffee then reached out and the rest is history.
“We gave him the stems and he added the massive bass and more extraordinary elements that gave it more life than it usually had from the beginning.
“So overall, this was a collective effort that turned out well,” Karyendasoul says.
After the sonic cyclone that is “Any Other Way”, the haunting voice of Mbuso Khoza serenades listeners on the EP’s fifth track”UThando”.
The grand finale of “Music is King” is the 10-minute reverie Muyè where Black Coffee features Nduduzo Makhathini.
The latter is the recipient of the 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist Award in the category of Jazz and when Black Coffee meets Jazz, we all know the powerful form of magic that results.
The 10 minutes of this stunning track are 10 minutes I won’t get back, neither do I want them back!
“Music is King” bears the same name as the hugely successful concert Black Coffee hosted a few weeks after the EP dropped.
The Super DJ has had a particularly busy year that has seen him being in studio sessions with global industry heavyweights likes Pharrell and Diplo, continuing his worldwide tours as well as working on a streaming platform for African music. This ties in with his expressed desire over the past few years not to be boxed into any one genre.
Such moves no doubt are taxing and demand evolving from the homegrown sound that has made Black Coffee an icon on the continent of his birth.
For me this background is what makes the “Music is King” EP one of his most significant releases of the past few years.
It’s pure undiluted Black Coffee in his truest most soul edifying form.
Listen to Black Coffee Music is King here.