Tumi and the Volume is a popular and innovative musical act from Johannesburg, South Africa, known for combining Jazz and Hip Hop with complex and highly politicized lyrics. The group is composed of members of the band, 340ml, and Tumi Molekane. Drawing heavily on the legacy of apartheid, as well as the realities of life in today’s South Africa, The Volume has quickly become one of South Africa’s most eclectic music acts. In just over a year the group has managed to create a distinct musical accent that includes blends of samba, reggae and poetry that speaks to the unique reality of the South African experience.
Tumi and the Volume are made up of four members. Tumi Molekane (vocals), the centerpiece of the group, is an accomplished South African poet from Johannesburg. In 2002, he met Tiago and Paulo Chibanga and Dave Bergman, who were playing backup for MCs at the Bassline, in Melville, Johannesburg. Tiago and Paulo are both members of the Mozambiquean, South African-based band 340ml. For the production of their first album, At the Bassline the group added Kyle Rose Smith, a violinist, to complete The Volume. On their second album, the self-titled studio release, Smith is featured but she left the band in early 2005 to join Freshlyground.
Tumi and the Volume was founded when then-solo emcee Tumi Molekane met The Volume, a backup band at the Bassline. The first collaborative project, which evolved into At the Bassline, began in the beginning of 2003. Yet since before the release of their first album, Tumi and the Volume have been performing across southern Africa and Europe.
Their first year together, 2002, saw them mostly tour South Africa and contribute to music festivals across the country, as well as open for bigger international groups performing in Johannesburg and Cape Town, such as Positive Black Soul, from Senegal, and Blackalicious, from the United States.
The release, and following critical acclaim of, At the Bassline, shot them onto a bigger stage, as the group performed at the Quart Festival in Norway, alongside with The Roots and Coldplay.
2005 through 2006 saw the successive releases of their second album—and first studio album—Tumi & the Volume, in first South Africa, and then Europe and North America. Through June and July of 2006, the band traveled to Canada and performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival.