The origin of iNDiGO the new album by Sipho Languza better known by his rap moniker Sipho the Gift is rather unusual. The MC originally from the Northern Cape was left feeling creatively frustrated after moving to Johannesburg. Many months of frustrations led Sipho to deciding to pursue opportunities in other creative fields which resulted in the creation of a magazine in collaboration with Gabrielle Kannemeyer, Luke Kuisis and Karabo Diseko inspired by the vibrancy of the youth in Joburg’s CBD.
“I decided to make a magazine that represented South African youth as a whole. I wanted it to represent our hustle, drive, insecurities, our cultural principles and motivations.” It was this very topic that pushed Sipho further creatively with the zine playing as a central inspiration to what would then become the 3rd album by the MC.
Although the conception of the album is quite unique there’s no doubt that Sipho is an undeniably talented lyricist. Songs feel more like thought-provoking meditations than mind-numbing rambles with iNDiGO having something for everyone. You need a turn-up banger? Blast “BOY” or “KWEDiNi”. Want something a bit closer to Kwaito well there’s “LAS PHuMA KHONA”.
Although the album doesn’t have one unified sound it doesn’t feel distracted, each tone shift and beat switch has a purpose and when you take into consideration that the album is by and large the auditory experience that builds on the content of the zine it’s thematically quite brilliant.
Sipho explains it best when talking about the link between the two creative projects, “ a magazine has a stylistic mood and an aesthetic, each page/spread is essentially different and I wanted the music to represent that.”
Although he admits that’s the functional reasoning behind the multitude of sounds he also explains that “I like to push myself by pulling from different genres as both a producer and writer. I’m inspired by all kinds of music and I studied it all, from TKZee, Khuli Chana, John Mayer, Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean all the way to Stimela. I’m a product of obsessively studying these people.”
Well, Sipho will be happy to hear that his studying has paid off because I need to give a special mention to the closing track “A Father’s Love”. The storytelling on this track reminds me of the vivid imagery K.dot had our heads spinning with on ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ and that is high praise, to say the least. The track is a heart-wrenching look at the effects absent fathers have on their sons complete with the raw emotion and delivery you would expect from such a topic.
If iNDiGO is anything to go by the SA rap scene may have a new star ready to take over the game.
Listen to iNDiGO here.
Photography: Luke Kuisis
Styling: Gabrielle Kannemeyer