Turn Up The Volume

By Nambita Ntsaluba

South Africa’s finest and most eclectic hip-hop group Tumi and the Volume have done it again. ‘Pick a Dream’ which was released in 2010 in France and only managed to hit South African stores in November 2011 is arguably one best hip-hop albums to be released in its time and is on its way to becoming a pop culture classic.

With the most unlikely combination of musicians, this revolutionary band’s make up includes lead singer and rapper Tumi Molekane, Tiago the skilful guitarist, Dave the soulful bassist and Paulo the eccentric and energetic drummer. The latter three members are also the creative geniuses behind the alternative jazz and reggae South African band 340ml known for its laid back style.

The album boasts eleven tracks and also includes a surprise hidden track. It takes you on such an emotional rollercoaster because although some of the songs are high energy Tumi’s lyrics and the soulful delivery of the instruments give it such a tragic undertone because the band is just so genuine in their performance and message. This is one of those albums that as you continue to listen to it you will grow to love it more and more.

I love every single song in this album but the ones that truly stood out to me were ‘Asinamali’ which is a commentary in the materialistic nature of society which often results in the abandonment of morals, ‘Limpopo’ which focuses on the loss of culture and identity amongst the youth, ‘Moving Picture Frames’ is a first-hand account of the debauchery that come with being part of the music industry, ‘Volume Thrials’ which is a continuation of the theme of debauchery and ‘Play nice’ which is a commentary on the struggles experienced by artists in the music industry.

‘Pick a Dream’ is a fast-paced and energetic album with elements and themes that will haunt you even weeks after giving it a listen. I found it extremely captivating because of how authentic it was. It is real musicians playing real instruments without any technical additions which have become very common in the modern age. It is so beautiful and is over so fast that it leaves you wanting more with its effortless combination reggae, jazz, hip-hop.

South African hip-hop has shown the tendency of trying to imitate American hip-hop and culture with very little success. Tumi and the Volume on the other hand have formed a new type of hip-hop which does not aim to achieve American standards but remains true to its authentic and African style.

Despite its status as one the best albums to be released in its time ‘Pick a Dream’ did not have that much hype surrounding it and it did not receive enough air-play since it had been four years since the band released their previous album titled ‘Tumi and the Volume’.

Tumi and the Volume have successfully created an album that will leave its mark in the South African music industry because of its authentic and alternative style that allows them to be a force to be reckoned with.

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