Opinion Review

Cassper Nyovest: Refiloe

Following the success of his debut album “Tsholofelo”, which was released little over a year ago and swiftly went platinum, rapper and producer Cassper Nyovest dropped his sophomore album “Refiloe” one the 31st of October, the same night he became the first South African artist to solely fill the Ticket Pro Dome – a feat which earned him the respect of many. A complimentary copy of the album was distributed to each one of the 20 000 fans who piled into the dome that night, causing the album to go gold in a day.

The album is a broad collection of tracks through which he primarily portrays his journey in life thus far in a series of often deeply personal songs. One of the most prominent one being the lead single of the album, ‘Mama I Made It’, which was released in August and peaked at number 1 one iTunes. This ode to his mother, underlain by an eerie, synthesised keyboard progression along with echoing background vocals attributes his success partially to his mother while acknowledging the troubles he put her through as a young adult.

The album begins on a poignant note with ‘Pelo Yako’, a Xhosa prayer delivered by a child, which is swiftly followed by the low tempo rhythm of the opening track, ‘Strive’. A slow rolling vocal and instrumental intro is found in ‘Mangwane’ in which a cascade of overlaying of starkly African vocals flow over one another, while the title track explores his slightly disrupted childhood. The sound of ‘Refiloe’ is underlain by a keyboard progression and peppered with indistinct vocals and guitar as Nyovest lays out his teenage years on his sleeve in a series of heartfelt verses directed at each respective parent – the moral of which is that situations are repairable.

‘Malome’ exhibits a wealth of traditional African constituents, while ‘American’ demonstrates the curious love-hate relationship South Africa has with America. Returning to traditional musical roots, a heavy qwaito rhythm is found in ‘Ajah in Motion’, paired with clanging bells and heady backing vocals. Further unusual elements are injected here and there in the form of synthesised vocals, trumpets and a dramatic string progression in ‘Bheki’Ndaba Zakho’.

Possibly the biggest face of our music scene at the moment, Cassper Nyovest delivers an echoing, memorable album, in the light of his recent successes.

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Listen to ‘Refiloe’ below.