Alright, I finally got a copy of Tumi’s new solo Whole Worlds. I know I’m six months late on this one, but in all honesty Tumi hasn’t been on my radar since the first Tumi show I ever saw back when the Bassline was still in Melville.
Ok, now that some of you have a bitter taste in your mouth, reeling, waiting to get to the end of the review so you can comment and tell me where to stick it, I will explain myself.
Tumi has never been on my radar because I’ve never been into poetic or ‘conscious’ MCs. The truth is I got into Hip Hop in the early nineties, Dre was the soundtrack to my life and I liked it that way…still do. All of this aside I was listening to 5FM the other day and heard a banging beat and lyrics which I could tell was South African but with an understanding of flow which I truly never new existed in this country up until then.
I immediately turned up the volume just as Bricks hit the chorus, his delivery giving me mental images of a South African ODB. From the beat and the chorus I could tell Tumi had taken a different route to that of the Volume or any of the live shows I’ve seen in the past.
This realisation was the reason I rushed to Rosebank Musica Megastore at lunch to get myself a copy and is the only thing that could have converted a head strong fan like me. A good move by Tumi in my opinion, opening himself to an instant gratification market which otherwise would have put the 100 rant down for the up and coming Kanye Album.
His change of heart may come from the recent Sony signing (notice, I didn’t use the phrase ‘inked a deal’ because I hate that pithy music-journo cliché). But as far as I can tell from interviews I’ve read with Tumi, he seems adamant that it’s something he has been meaning to explore and also referred to his radio single Bambazela as proverbial wool over the eyes of the radio stations and label (will try getting my own interview with him soon to explain further).
This album is not a commercial release by today’s standards, but checks boxes which commercial heads like myself look out for. The most noticeable being a variety of features, some from hard knock artists like Bricks on Bambazela and others from up-beat guys like MXO on Family Plan. The other thing I like is his movement toward a more digital, quantized sound and therefore more Hip Hop sounding beats, which as far as I can tell from the sleeve are produced by an array of producers some foreign and some South African – Props.
There are diverse offerings on the album but generally they provide an overall positive message, which separates him from other local Mc’s who have just jumped on the Cash Money bandwagon.
Conclusion: This album has changed my perception of Tumi and South African Hip Hop in general. It is so rare that I will find a Hip Hop album which checks all the boxes, even from my favourite artists but I am happy to report that Whole Worlds does exactly that.
Barring the song Hubby I like every track on the album but I have to make special mention of his bonus track. Tumi basically explains a lot about the album on this track, explaining his disappointment with certain Mc’s on the local scene which I won’t go into, explaining how he takes it personally that his cousins are into that ‘DJ Sbu vibe’ and most importantly clarifying his stance on the rapper vs the artist of which he proudly claims to be part of the latter and I agree with him.
Without sounding like I was paid to write this article (which I wasn’t) I want to make it clear that this album is now one of my favourite Hip Hop albums of all time and will without a doubt be on rotation in my system for years to come.
by Byron Marais
Follow me on Twitter!
Visit my Google Profile.