Review

Espacio Dios’ debut album, Son of Uri, is a rhythm-rooted alt-pop piece of art

Masego Makganyoha, aka Espacio Dios (there’s clearly some Latino influence here) hit the ground running four years ago and hasn’t stopped since. Since the release of his debut EP Backseat Galaxy in 2016 – which garnered critical acclaim, peaking at #4 on iTunes South Africa – he’s been named one of 25 South African Rappers Under 25 Killing the Game by OkayAfrica, hooked some high profile collabs, and gained synchs both for the film “Luce” and the Netflix series “Queen of the South”.

Come 2020, he’s barely pushing 22 and has just dropped his debut album, Son of Uri: a 13-track Alt-pop offering laced in hip-hop rambling and deep-rooted textural rhythm. Heavily influenced by language diversity in South Africa as well as English, Setswana, Swahili and Zulu culture, it’s a strikingly progressive project from a fresh face. 

Unlikely earthen textures rule the roost here. The tracks have a tendency to begin on a generic pop-hop key before fleshing out at the corners with percussive beats, vocal loops, and frilly synths. The album kicks off on a pulsing, progressive intro “Uri”, to come full circle with an equally anthemic outro: “Bezalel With Muano”.

Thematically love takes the fore – as it always will – and besides by some questionable lyricism in “Malindi”, he’s quite wholesome really. “Letsibolo Latsasting” clocks in at 4 minutes and gets candid about personal differences through an off-kilter beat, “Naleli”, which features Thando Nje and Muzi, injecting some fresh female influence into the mix – while “Summer Nights” gets simultaneously summery and nostalgic as the album nears the end. 

It’s a hook-laden exploration of dark and light. Quintessential to its genre and unexpectedly unique in equal measure.