While they originally met in high school in Pretoria, it’s taken nearly a decade for B_U’s debut EP to come to fruition. South African performance artist/vocalist Koek Sista (Ulungile Magubane) and Ghanaian and Liberian producer/DJ blaqkongo (Brendan Witherspoon) are long-time friends and collaborators. The two originally created their first song together in 2012 whilst studying Economics and Finance in college before going their separate ways and nurturing their crafts in cities like New York, Geneva, Cape Town, London and Madrid. With worldly experience under their belts, the pair have reunited to create a deeply nostalgic 4 track EP that cites New-Age Kwaito, House, Pop, Acid-jazz, Hip-hop, & RnB as influences.
The project is the first of an ongoing series of sessions that “experiment with sound, genres, stories and music techniques,” and the first thing you’ll notice is the off-kilter beats blended with familiar sounds. The first track, “Lonely Girl”, thumps as Koek Sista hypnotizes you by repeatedly crooning “Nobody was lonelier than me ‘til I found you.” It’s got a housey vibe to it and the backing vocal melody reminds me of Alice DJ’s 90’s dance hit “It’s a Fine Day”.
B_U describes the EP as “A story of misplaced affection, flowing rivers of desire, butterfly-inducing lust and eventual acceptance.” This especially comes through on “What Have You Done” and “Please Recharge”. ‘What Have You Done’ is the tale of someone so irresistible that Koek Sista can’t explain what they have done to her. “Please Recharge” seems to be the heartbreaking all-too-familiar follow-up where that same person is now perpetually making you stare at blue ticks. “Exit Flow” is a soulful, jazzy RnB number where that eventual acceptance comes through. With it Koek Sista realises that what she’s searching for is within her and as she puts it, “I’m learning to love myself, deranged and free.” It all flies by rather quickly and I’m grateful that they’ve said this is the first of many sessions between these two as I’m left wanting more.
The EP is available for download and purchase in digital stores everywhere.