Review

A beast with bars: Nele claps back at life with coming-of-age debut offering, EXILE

The SA hip hop scene is cutting-edge right now and you pretty much have to have skills of steel to walk it. There is so much talent coming from all four cardinal points of the country that standing out is becoming increasingly challenging.

However, one such artist who is bound to catch the industry’s attention once his debut album, EXILE, grows legs is Johannesburg-based hip hop artist, Nele Worldwide, a.k.a NELE.

The 23-year-old musician and producer has had to work through some pretty dark times after his tertiary studies were cut short due in part to lack of funding and to his older brother’s tragic passing. 

Yet, NELE decided to clap back at life and channel all this pain into his music and ‘Cordon Bleu-ed’ the shit out of his self-produced, 12-track debut EP, EXILE which he describes as “an infusion of rich themes that explore adversity, loss, pain and joy.”

With a musical style influenced by a range of genres, including traditional hip hop, soul and UK drill trap, NELE has roped in the likes of Naye Ayla – for “some celestial feminine cadence”, LimRinse, Bokeh Film Festival 2020 nominee and rapper, Xenlaii, and Smanga OG to name a few. 

EXILE is a sonic project bursting with themes and statements symbolic of an out-in-the-open ‘ode to self’, with 12 tracks that are interesting and distinguishable.