Kwesta is no doubt one of the most revered artists in SA Hip Hop. He established himself as a gifted writer with versatility to be admired. He has had a good run since the release of his previous album, Dakar II - a double disc project that was released in 2016 and is said to be the best performing Hip Hop album in Africa.
Building on that momentum, Kwesta has been making great strides in advancing his brand of SA Hip Hop even with international features. Sticking to his preferred style and running things on his own terms. He has maintained a solid presence through the release of some banger singles. That's until now when he felt an album was due from him.
g.o.d Guluva is a culmination of what Kwesta has grown into since he last constructed a complete project. Most listeners would've probably picked that up through the singles he was putting out. He dug his toes deeper into his love for kasi stories and lifestyle. All these stories are packaged in 15 full-length tracks that run for just over an hour. A lot of us can argue that a full length project was due. From some of the singles dropped, especially the summer records, it felt like Kwesta was trying to recreate the same song chasing a December smash. He said something to that effect in a recent interview himself.
Kwesta comes from an era of SA Hip Hop where the audience felt the need to separate English raps and Vernac raps. A time where rappers picked a side and stuck to it. Not many would do well if they decided to dabble in both, with the exception of Pro and Flabba who enjoyed good success doing it. Kwesta got his hands on that baton and he excelled as a punchline rapper in any language he chose.
g.o.d Guluva starts off with Yanga serenading some solid life advice on Thandazani. The singing comes from a little cringe-worthy at first listen. But then one comes to appreciate the rough finish in which the vocals are delivered. It's one of the more deeper songs on the album.
Kwesta then takes things in a different direction with the following few tracks where he goes on a much lighter mood and drops some raps. He raps from a point of comfort. Less chasing punchlines and more driving points and views across. His growth as a writer is evident in his stories and analogies he uses to bring them forth. When the punchlines come, they're in the form of thought-provoking quotables.
Most of the music has a Kwaito influence that Kwesta excels on. Ma Se Kind featuring Reason is a Kwaito banger that will probably see its peak impact when the Summer comes. The same Summer vibes are present on Kubo which features K.O, Focalistic and Bassie. The Bottom and Fire In The Ghetto bring sprinkles of Afro Pop into the album.
Fire In the Ghetto is about the challenges still faced by those who are less fortunate in life. It paints a picture of how struggle is still sadly synonymous with the township. It's not all lost though, power still lies with the people, if only they'd realise. Kwesta tackles this topic while making it sound like a jump, with the chorus sounding much like an anthem.
In the second half of the album, the music gets into a slow tempo to give some wedding vibes. Nobody and Hamba Nawe. Even on love songs where he delves into a more softer side of himself, he still keeps it Guluva in the game he talks and how he expresses himself. Favourite Song is one the ladies will probably love the most as he hits new depths with his voice on the chorus. Perfect for live performance. The tempo slows down some more to RnB levels when he features Zingah for Daai Ding.
Kwesta is past proving that he can rap. He is now enjoying himself making music that resonates with his true self. He featured artists he says he fucks with and enjoys working with. What came out is a work of art that is fitting of the album art which is an oil painting by Nelson Makamo.
The album also has a selection of kasi stories where Kwesta takes on some tough topics. On Eyes he captures the struggles of those in unfortunate situations. How those that are more fortunate tend to overlook them and get uncomfortable around when all they ask for is some acknowledgement. Umzulu Phaqa graces the song with her vocals. Could be mistaken for Msaki.
On Who I Am Kwesta wraps up the album by letting us see into his internal turmoil as he reflects on how he has changed to a point where he misses his past self. This was one of the two singles released ahead of the album. It’s quite poetic how he relays the story of his journey with his love for music above all else. Vehicle things worked out for the best, Kwesta has had to change in ways he never could imagine when he started. He’s being a bit too hard on himself, though, giving himself some tough love.
g.o.d Guluva doesn't carry a lot of hardened content as many of us might've expected from the name. Instead, we get to see how Kwesta pays respect to multiple personalities that we find in the hood. Telling their realities and what they’re faced with on the daily. Taking it beyond just respect for his fellow people, he embraces his softer side with a number of love songs. In essence the album has four parts to it, the raps, bumpy Kwaito joints, love songs and kasi stories. What sticks out is the mature way in which Kwesta looks at things. It’s sobering but not entertaining. It’s something different. And as is often the case with such, it will take some warming up to.