In Durban, South Africa Nipho Hurd is a very popular individual. Popular for her Instagram thrift store Tinz Clothing and styling music videos for fellow Durban acts such as Robin Thirdfloor and more. I knew of The Ghel before I had even met her. Her affiliation with Durban music was always evident even from afar. I first met Nipho at the Red Bull Amaphiko songwriters camp that was at the KZN Music House, she later appeared on the Red Bull Dubane Connect project – before that interaction, I had no idea that Nipho made music.

Being the avid consumer of homegrown music, I was very excited to hear a full body of work coming from her. Finally, she has delivered with The Ghel – her debut effort into the music space as an artist. The Ghel serves as an introduction to Nipho Hurd. Before this project, I had no idea what to expect from her as a musical artist.

When you dive into the seven-song project, you are welcomed by Money, a foggy midnight-like confession of how money stays top of mind for her. The record really speaks to getting money which is a subject that a lot of young people wouldn’t struggle to resonate with. Money lays a decent sonic foundation for The Ghel – it is a strong opening song that is able to keep you interested. followed up by Very Special, it becomes even moodier than before as Nipho lullaby’s you with her vocals over a very hazy and gloomy piece of production.

The mood picks up ever so slightly on Freelance To Freedom. The upbeat song really feels like a breath of fresh air, Nipho does very well to get you engaging with the song as it builds up so well. What it builds up to isn’t very impressive which is a subpar verse from Neo Ndawo who is also the project’s executive producer. I believe that the song would’ve been much better with just Nipho throughout.

Cadillac is as smooth as they come. It really gives off a feel that Nipho was really in her element with this one to a point that you can visualise everything she’s saying – her songwriting really comes to life here. Her sensual delivery and lyrical content create something bouncy and cool. The official single Soul Party is what follows, it switches up the mood from Cadillac though again Nipho plays her part to the tee, with a vibrant hook to bring up the mood only for it to be downgraded by an average appearance from Neo Ndawo.

Moulan Rogue is probably my favourite song on the project along with Cadillac. Nipho and Neo go back and forth, with Neo Ndawo doing much better in comparison to his previous entries on the project. He melodically manoeuvres around the beat and provides necessary contrast in lyrical perspective. The song feels very candid and transparent enhanced by Nipho’s dreamy vocal delivery.

The Ghel was Nipho’s introduction to us as a musician, though it barely touches on who she is. It provides more fog to the persona than any kind of clarity. It feels like a couple of nice songs put together. Listening to it over and over again, I have to admit that it has remarkably grown on me and has good replay value. This is due to Nipho’s catchy melodies on songs like Soul Party, Freelance To Freedom and Money. The feature selection wasn’t the best as most songs would’ve been better off without some of the features. Having the same feature three times out of seven starts to make it feel like a collaborative effort more than an introduction to The Ghel.

I understand that independent creators work on a shoelace budget, though with the minimum resources Nipho had, I still believe that this project could’ve sounded much better from a production standpoint. At times her vocals sound too muddy and I can barely make out what she’s saying. Some of the production sounds empty and bland, overall the project is decent at best but it really feels like a trip to nowhere and that’s based on songwriting and structure. The Ghel as a project lacks a centrepiece theme which makes it sound a bit rushed. Though it has a decent amount of dynamic range between songs – you can certainly look forward to Nipho Hurd as an artist.

Stream The Ghel below