I must admit when I first read Durban-based hip-hop artist ByLwansta’a debut EP title, my habitual, somewhat customary grammar-nazi facet was begging me to correct and criticize. Fortunately before embarrassing myself, I discovered the purposefully-ridiculed tactic on the artwork as well as a prime quality within ByLwansta that essentially watermarks “Your Absolutely Right” – brooding and timeous introspection. Being 21 is seldom without its notorious existential conflicts surrounding morale, harsh realities as well as severe, frequent change: topics thoroughly explored throughout the brutally-honest and profound EP.
Since beginning writing at the ripe age of 12, ByLwansta has acquired a fair amount of accolades, including a South African Hip Hop Awards Mixtape of The Year nomination for an earlier work “NORMVL” in 2014. The move from quaint Kokstad to bustling Durban has proved to be significantly influential and particularly sobering. This is particularly noticeable in opening track ‘Your Absolutely Right’, which gradually introduces the listener to ByLwansta’s mindset by means of a nonchalant conversation touching on motivation, pleasing others and progression.
Follow-up ‘NORMVL Still’, an ode to the past, as well as ‘Funny How’ and aggressive ‘Stay At Home!’ all touch on apparent formulas to succeed, criticisms of one’s artwork, pressures to avoid failure, heightened doubts and authentic change. The majority of the EP encompasses relaxed, jagged drum lines accompanied by minimally-layered, lounge-esque chord progressions. Throughout, the spotlight is directed at ByLwansta’s impeccably hard-hitting disquisitions.
About halfway through, the artist’s self-reflective extension is anything but over. Amongst crashing waves, ‘Indian Ocean’ addresses the consuming nature of often bewildering emotions. The seductive, enticing ‘Grey’ tells the tale of unfortunate conflict between race and romance with older brother Kemosabe’s soulful disposition. Closers ‘The Sigh’, ‘The Routine’ and ‘Something To Say’ rotate on a similar pivot: the misconceptions of art valuation (something all creatives can relate to), picking yourself up after a monumental descent and generally, criticisms of the industry.
Although ByLwansta’s debut may resemble a young Marshall Mathers, the artist endlessly emphasizes the importance of bona fide authenticity. Similar or not, the intention’s what counts.
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Listen to “Your Absolutely Right” below on Soundcloud.