Record Review: Spoek Mathambo

Spoek Mathambo
Put Some Red On It EP
Johannesburg, South Africa

“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.

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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)

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