As one presses the play button for the intro to Bonginkosi Dlamini alias Zola’s new kwaito offering Ibutho, the whistling wind and the compassionate voice of grief send saddening salutations.
He takes us on a mental township walkabout where he encounters a guttersnipe whose mother died of Aids, a Zionist woman weeping for the job she just lost and a raped young girl whose family won’t help. Albeit victims of unfair socio-political circumstances, they all maintain that “Akuna niks [It’s all right]”.
Zola questions: “For how long would black folk suffer social injustices and still maintain that ‘Akuna niks?’”
Ibutho is Zola’s fourth album with the Ghetto Ruff stable and, this time around, the release of his CD is complemented by an audio-visual package in the form of an exciting DVD - Zola the Journey: Part One, which reconnects us with a younger Zola - straight out of the township.
The 20-track album is full of sharp observation, deeply rooted in his personal experience of growing up poor in the epicentre of South Africa’s political turmoil.
Ibutho is fully representative of the Sowetan that is in Zola, fused with a miscellaneous package of musical genres such as isicathamiya, mbaqanga, Afro-pop and the inevitable provocative hip-hop verses spat out in kasie lingua franca - scamtho.
The album boasts singalong tracks such as Ngudu and the radio favourite Ubelapho (T-Shirt). Many a kwaito fan will be dazzled by Zola’s explosive yet message-infested lyrics.
In Ubelapho, Zola encourages poor township folk to learn from his rags-to-riches story by finding opportunity amid poverty and shattered dreams. He gives the phrase “Been there, done that and got the T-shirt” a kwaito feel that could see it become a township anthem this festive season.
The title track is a hard-core, vernacular hip-hop tune in which Zola reminds us not to forget where we come from. So, expect an anthropology lesson on “you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future” from kwaito’s mindful social commentator.
Ibutho had 50Â 000 pre-sale orders from music retailers and the number continues to rise—reason enough to get yourself a copy.