Best New Music: Tshego unites Nasty C & Nadia Nakai for the anthemic “Money Machines”
Tshego ascends to a new form
Tshego ascends to a new form
Tshego established himself among South African audiences as a producer and rapper in the mid 2010’s, appearing on songs alongside the nation’s most heralded stars such as the late Riky Rick, King Monada and Cassper Nyovest, whose ‘Family Tree’ imprint was home to Tshego.
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At the time, Trap was making a rise among young audiences, and many musicians tapped from its source, pairing boisterous 808’s with emotive brags which were burnished with introspective storytelling. Tshego’s music played at this intersection, his ‘Pink Panther’ debut, was one of the remarkable releases of 2019. Across its fifteen songs, he united distinct features from Tellaman to Focalistic, playing the curator with his obvious hang on production. Also clear from his growing catalogue was his passionate perspective, often resulting in raps that weren’t the most technical but nevertheless held supple amounts of heart and humour.
In-between then and last year, Tshego has been busy. In July, he released a three-song package aptly titled ‘3 Piece’, featuring Shekhinah on the soulful “MY FAVOURITE SONG” while Blxckie and Flvme form groovy alliances on “NEW”. Down to “ONLY IF YOU LIKE THAT”, Tshego’s sunny take on Trap creates music that is imbibed with all the glitz of upscale SA cities while possessing strong emotional pull.
Last weekend, the latest project from Tshego saw its release. Right from its cartoon artwork, ‘El Pantera (The Return Of The Catalog)’ evokes the feel of a mixtape. It’s typical of rappers to play down anticipation by following the loose inspirations of their heart, and that’s what Tshego does across seven songs. Mirroring the sunny quality of its artwork, the tape’s soundscape is vivid and colourful, summarily flexing the celebrity lifestyle of Tshego and friends.
It’s indeed an intimate affair, the trio of Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C and Gemini Major appearing on multiple songs. There are a number of standouts, but none captures the ground-raising energy of the EP like “Money Machines”. Featuring the duo of Nasty C and Nadia Nakai, Tshego’s uptempo production sets the template for their unique vocal contributions.
Having delivered a stellar verse earlier on “Tell Em Say”, Nasty C settles for hook duties here, while Nadia Nakai’s autotuned voice conducts the finesse in lyrics such as “Stacking bricks, take care of my mansion/ I ain’t listening if we ain’t talking Rands son”. Tshego is even more confrontational, reminiscing about the days he “used to get fed, now I feed em”, then at the other end of his verse rapping with what I imagine would be a smirk, “Dropped a nigga clean like we mopped it.”
There’s no doubt that it’ll be a busy year for South African rap, with heavyweights such as Blxckie and Shane Eagle already dropping projects a quarter in. With Tshego making his three-year return to the form, he’s again elevated himself to the highest tier of rap discussions, in and around South Africa.
Stream “Money Machines” below.
Featured image credits/AfroNaija