Photo by: Sjava, Twitter
By: Cwenga Maqhubela
South African BET award winner Sjava released his album Umqhele on December 14, 2018. The album has 18 tracks and has hit singles like Umama, Isibhamu, Confeesion, and Eweni. He gained much recognition from his previous album Isina Muva
Although the album contains some cultural references on the Zulu tribe and their practises, at the same time it also provides some reliability and comfort as it has tracks that one can listen to when hurt broken. In one of his tracks Linda Sjava reflects on the difficulties faced by black people who choose to believe more on culture/rituals. “Ngith’ ungashis’ impepho emsamu, uthethis’ abaphansi, masingakafik’ iskhathi sakho linda, linda.” This means “even if you can burn traditional herbs and consult the ancestors when its not yet your time you must wait till its your time.” The message is intended to comfort people who seem to have lost hope in their spiritual ways and to urges them to have patience.
The album is open to African soul music lovers and he has featured some well-known artists for some of the songs in the album, namely Buhlebendalo on the track Izitha. As you listen to the album you pick up some important facts about life in general and how the reality of love life is. The lyrics on the album are paired with a range of well-produced sounds, including a saxophone in the track Linda, while Isibhamu uses a trap beat. The different sounds make the album unique and interesting to listen as it accommodates listeners from different genres.
The songs in the album explore the key themes in life like how one wishes to make their parents proud. It also informs how one must learn to have faith and be patient in their ambitious goals and cultural belief. Another theme that the album focuses on is being afraid of love and getting hurt in the process. 70 percent of the album has love related songs that mainly speaks about heartbreaks and how true love should be perceived.
There are a couple of problems that the album can encounter and one of them is that 97percent of its content is structured in Zulu meaning that the audience is narrowed down. Although his beats are rhythmic, but it is a given that people that do not understand Zulu will not understand a thing about the album. The lack in understanding of lyrics will limit the connection of the listener to the songs. This even reflects to the artists he has featured in the album none of them are English speaking making it clear that the target audience is mostly Zulu speaking people and the Nguni because they also understand Zulu. None of the tracks from album are in other languages or English.
This is a must get album as it has also helped me to discover my spiritual ways and not to underestimate the power of true love. There are motivational songs that one can find comfort and relate themselves with. One can get emotional from just listening to the instrumentals without the lyrics and you can find therapy in it too. From my experience in listening the album and in a scale of 10, I will give it a 8/10.