South African musician Mnqobi Yazo‘s recently released highly-anticipated debut full-length project is a perfect blend of African trap, Afro-pop and maskandi. The 20-track album comes with features from the legendary maskandi duo Shwi Nomtekhala and emerging artists Musiholiq and Nobuhle.
Impi is his first project to be released under Mabala Noise since he signed to the popular independent label in July.
The album begins with Mnqobi singing praises to his Zulu ethnic group as he switches between singing and rapping while detailing how far he came to get here. In most ethnic groups, it is custom for praise poets to introduce dignitaries before they deliver a speech or enter a venue.
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The a cappella harmonies on “Into Engihluphayo (interlude)” will leave the listener with goosebumps. “Sponkie” featuring Shwi Nomtekhala is a beautiful Afro-pop number which flips legendary South African artist Jabu Khanyile and his group Bayete‘s hit “Sponky Ponky”. “Lubanzi” is a beautiful maskandi anthem that will make you consider asking your partner for their hand in marriage.
The singer-songwriter from KwaMaphumulo in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, is part of the flock of young new school artists who are making Afro-pop that is deeply-rooted in South African traditional cultures and heritage.
In an interview, ahead of the album’s release, the musician revealed that he makes music with “isigqi sase South Africa” (South African rhythm) instead of a specific genre, and he chooses to fuse hip-hop and maskandi, amongst other styles, in a bid to make (South) African traditional music appeal to the youth.
This is the album one listens to before going to battle, to uplift their spirit no matter what their daily battles are. After all, it’s titled Impi (which translates to “war”).