This release is a psychedelic fun ride through the urban centre of South Africa, from the streets of Soweto to the enclave of Maboneng. Bhubesii raps from the perspective of his Kobayashi alter ego, a stylish trickster on a mission for a good time. The music aims to reinterpret classic kwaito for 2016, with Bhubesii saying that ‘it has a very township wave feel about it. Kobayashi is a new wave tariyana.’ The boisterous title track looks back to the infectious work of Arthur, Mandoza and M’du. But Bhubesii is clearly working in his own lane. For a start, he is a lot more lyrically focused than his minimalist progenitors. He adopts an impressive amount of languages and idioms, dropping witty punchlines and outrageous boasts.
The eager embrace of local influences and style set him apart from an often derivative SA hip hop scene. It’s no secret that even talented artists may often expend energy trying to keep up with what’s happening in the US. In the most egregious cases, people will adopt entire fake accents, which isn’t fooling anyone. More subtly, there is pressure to emulate production styles and sonic tricks. Constantly chasing the next big thing is a fool’s errand though, as it always leaves musicians on the back foot.
So Bhubesii uses the recent South African past to find his own voice. Tracks like ‘Chankura’ and ‘Zulu Jedi’ mutate and stretch in constant motion. It conveys the sense of a weekend with endless possibilities, spanning the hot spots and dank dives of Gauteng. Bhubesii also put extra attention into curating his image, with a laudable eye for detail. The cover for the single version of ‘Kobayashi’, has him as a futuristic seer, bringing life to a blighted wasteland. For this EP he has gone for a witty piece of cover art. In place of the tough guy mask which rappers have adopted in the past, his face is covered by an explosion of flowers. It’s a nicely unexpected touch, which expresses the exuberance of his music.