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“Solomon” Review: Cassper Nyovest Harps on Self-Aggrandisement on New Album

“Solomon” Review: Cassper Nyovest Harps on Self-Aggrandisement on New Album

Cassper Nyovest - Solomon- review - Afrocritik

The rapper sets things into proper perspective with this album, putting cynics and contemporaries who refute his legacy to rest, and emphasising his effort at strengthening Hip-Hop in South Africa.

By Emmanuel Daraloye

Experiences are acquired through wit and grit,  and in the last two decades, South African rapper and singer, Cassper Nyovest, has displayed the gumption to etch his name in the South African Hip-Hop landscape. With seven albums deep, Nyovest has become an icon in the rap genre playing field, and with bevy of records in his collection, no doubt, there is no more pressure to prove a point. And last week, he released Solomon, perhaps the most vulnerable album in his sonic journey so far.

Solomon follows his trademark way of naming his albums after the people close to him. Tsholofelo, his debut album was named after his sister, Refiloe, the second album was an eponymous title, and Thuto, after his elder sister. Solomon is cleped after the rapper’s best friend (Carpo), and also as a reference to King Solomon in the Bible. This album posits as a medium for him to release a lot of pent-up emotions. 

Considered one of South Africa’s —and Africa’s— finest rappers, Nyovest has constantly been under pressure from admirers and critics who berate and incessantly question his skill and talent. In Solomon, he addresses these criticisms in tirades, in a similar manner that he engages with social media banters that question his credibility. 

As is peculiar to most Hip-Hop albums which start off with a high-power intro, with the BPM raised high and rap bars flying, Nyovest’s opener, “Bashimane”, takes a similar cue.  Over a scattering hi-hat, a downplay string, and a heavy drum, Nyovest raps about his legacy, his tribulation before fame, and the reoccurring battle with cynics. The thudding productions give off a typical Hip-Hop feel, with its high arousal energy and a negative valence emotion. He deliberately starts off the album this way, as a response to those who debate his status as a Hip-Hop king. The first line “First thing first, this is my house”, already set things in motion, with such confrontational lines to rouse anyone still in doubt.  Nyovest levels this up as the song continues, setting the motion for what to expect from the rest ten songs that follow.  

An audio cut kickstarts “Who Jah Bless”, “Sometimes, you are the smartest guy in the room and you don’t want anyone to know,” the speaker says. This cut lays the foundation for Nyovest’s menacing two verses. The gorgeous production of this song takes it to another level. It gives off an East Coast Hip-Hop aura; a picturesque of a young Nas in South Africa. Through this song, Nyovest tells the listeners about his monumental efforts toward Hip-Hop growth in South Africa, opening up about how the disrespect from some of his contemporaries is hurtful. 

Cassper Nyovest Solomon - Afrocritik
Cassper Nyovest

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Nyovest takes particular care to preserve the high BPM energy of the album, augmenting the production with samples on the menacing “Balmain”, the vitriol shots to enemies never seem to be abating. Beyond the shots fired, Nyovest urges his compatriots to unite in the fight against systemic oppression.

He celebrates the late rapper, HHP, on “Ever Changing Times”, “I don’t care about your opinion, I just want to make double HP proud,” he raps, after which he goes on a self-aggrandising discourse that speaks the truth of his worth. With a disco sample on the hook, Nyovest raps about his effort to resuscitate Hip-hop in South Africa. On “Candlelight”, he continues his tribute, this time to other lost ones. The first is dedicated to his long-time rival, the late AKA, and then the later verse to all the lost souls. The relatability of this song makes it all the more heart-wrenching.

Jaunty yet groovy, “Chomie Lover Friend” is an invigorating track with an optimistic view of love and affection. This song beautifully encapsulates Cassper Nyovest’s struggle with love. On this song, he reveals how he has been distracted by life problems. However, this has not halted his admiration for girls. He is also conscious of his weakness. 

In the one-minute, forty-three-second runtime of  “Beautiful Mind”, Nyovest relays a story of an encounter with a girl who refuses to give him her number. A distraught Nyovest urges her to call to reach out to him whenever her present relationship falls apart.

On “After 10”, Nyovest becomes vulnerable as he raps about second-guessing continuing music, “I find myself thinking of quitting because I don’t know if the stress is worth it”. After over a decade of making music,  a thought like this is expected. But the occasional doubt aside, Nyovest is thankful for the industry that has carried him to wealth and fame.

On the Drill sampled “018,” Cassper Nyovest showcases his unmatched rap status. The track is set against a dynamic drill-inspired beat guaranteed to make heads bob. In this song, he demonstrates his fluidity and ingenious wordplay as he continues to reign supreme in the Hip-Hop realm. The featured artiste, Maglera Doe Boy, effortlessly matches Nyovest’s skills with his unique cadence and flow, injecting excitement into this collaboration.

Cassper Nyovest - Afrocritik

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The self-praise sonic arc continues on  “It’s Not the Same”, where Nyovest takes pride in his craft, prowess, and accomplishments so far. The bopping production further elevates the song, although the mixing of the song could have been better.  Just like the beginning, Nyovest ends the album on a bright note. “Blow Your Lungs” begins with shouts from an audience at a concert. The song, again, revolves around his accomplishment, but this time around,  he brings on a crowd of vocals on the hook. It gives off an angelic feel.

At thirty-two years old, and with seven bodies of work to show for his almost two decades of experience in the music industry, Nyovest is slowly climbing the veteran ladder in the South African music echelon. The rapper sets things into proper perspective with this album, putting cynics and contemporaries who refute his legacy to rest, and emphasising his effort at strengthening Hip-Hop in South Africa. 

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At just a few minutes shy of forty minutes, Solomon ranks as Nyovest’s shortest album, nevertheless, this album’s range is limited. Self-admiration remains the key topic, and at some point, it becomes monotonous and tiring listening to Nyovest milling on about his accomplishments. Still, two years after the release of the Amapiano-driven Sweet And Short 2.0 album, it is exhilarating to listen to Nyovest once again, with his talent, skill, and flow still in abundance. This new album is another proof of his longevity in the music industry.

Lyricism – 1

Tracklisting – 1

Sound Engineering –1

Vocalisation – 1 

Listening Experience – 2

Rating – 6/10 

Listed by Black Pride Magazine as one of the top 5 music journalists in Nigeria, Emmanuel Daraloye has over 600 album reviews in his archive.

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