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“Indie hip-hop shows off its best side and a few alter egos”
South African musician Spoek Mathambo follows last year’s full-length album Mshini Wam with an EP enigmatically-titled Put Some Red On It. The six-track EP explores the sonic possibilities of two songs by providing first the original version before showcasing the tweaks and changes made to the track by other Sub Pop artists.
The title track, “Put Some Red On It,” begins with eerie, wavering smoke trails of synth beneath frenetic tick-tocks of percussion. The duet features Mathambo’s wife Ana Rab and tells the truths behind the diamond market in South Africa. For the remix, futuristic hip-hop vanguards Shabazz Palaces contribute to the minimalist effort by trading quivering tick-tocks for a more bass-heavy version, emphasizing the last third of the original version.
“Dog To Bone” is a much lighter track with tinges of Calypso, airier vocals and a decidedly rock slant, while still showcasing Mathambo’s skill as a talented hip-hop lyricist. Despite the cheerful tone of the track, the lyrics veer into darker territories and bring the song to a somber end with a chorus of “We should also get paid.” Telepathe then remixes the track with heavy synths, turning the song into a darkwave audio assault. (Sub Pop)