One of the most important things in art is creating and delivering concepts. Whether it is through collaborations or using a nostalgic narrative rooted in culture. Conceptual art pieces are the most desired and tend to do well because of how they were presented. The thing is, you don’t just create and deliver concepts – that comes with a lot of understanding. Understanding your audience, your market or niche, that’s super crucial. Producer, DJ and singer (if you want to take it that far) Muzi has really come a long way when it comes to nailing concept art.
His sophomore album Afrovision, was absolutely flawless. His use of concepts led me to describe it as “an ode to his people and culture, it’s like an art piece that will hang in an art gallery and confuse plenty but it will always hold a pivotal light in representing where he is from”.It is an album that was adored by plenty because of its positive energy, aesthetic and narrative. Afrovision was my personal album of the year, but now it is a year old, and Muzi decides to present us with Stimela SeGolide, a four-track extended play of possibly his sophomore effort.
Muzi does well when it comes to pushing forward the genuine narrative of black people in South Africa, mainly the youth. The concept here is a very delicate one, its basically urbanisation. He talks about fathers leaving their families to go to Johannesburg in search of better opportunities. Where they become miners hence why it is titled “The Gold Train”. In retrospect, everyone goes to Johannesburg in search of a better life, even Muzi himself moved up to Johannesburg from Durban. As much as the land of gold may seem like the promised land, people tend to not come back and Muzi expresses that on the namesake song, he talks about his father leaving for Joburg and never coming back. There is a good degree of sadness hidden on the upbeat production throughout the project – especially on the outro.
But it’s not really the music that makes this EP a good one. In all honesty, it sounds exactly like what I expected it to sound like, basically an extension of Afrovision. If you listen to the first 15 seconds of Zwakala, it is as if he sampled his own vocals from Bantu Space Odessy. On Zwakala he returns to the topic of Joburg being that place but this time the narrative is different. Muzi is a full-on suitor throughout the record. On Baba he talks about his father leaving him and his mother, you can hear his pain pierce your ears on the one-minute outro.
Here are the elements that I believe made this project a very good conceptual art piece. Muzi tapped into the spirit of collaboration and storytelling. He firstly teamed up with Lulama Wolf to put together the super interesting cover art. He didn’t stop there, he tapped up graphic designer and rapper ByLwansta for illustrations that display the very topic of his extended play. On the project itself, he enlists Mnqobi Yazo as the only feature. The 247 hitmaker from Durban appears on iNtombi. The icing on the cake was working with DEAD on some overall silhouettes that represent the idea of Stemela SeGolide. The presentation of his projects is often the most exciting part. He also did a couple of free shows to promote his project and DEAD pieces.
Muzi seems more confident to appear as the lead act on his songs, he breathes a lot of his personality onto his music. He has solidified himself as more than just a DJ and producer. How he packages his releases is the most meticulous and interesting methods. Muzi is an enigma that puts in the most effort into telling his story, understanding that music is more than just the studio and that adds value to his final product.
You can stream Stimela SeGolide below.