ES­CAP­ING THE CON­CRETE JU­MANJI?

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

FEW sim­i­lar­i­ties can be drawn be­tween the fic­ti­tious jun­gle of Ju­manji and the squalor of South African town­ship life. To es­cape the “jun­gle” that town­ship life can of­ten present, you must clock the game.

24-year-old pro­ducer and rap­per Tweezy was born and bred in Jab­u­lani, Soweto. On his new sin­gle, Ju­manji, only his sec­ond re­lease as a solo artist, he uses his knowl­edge of the trap­pings of town­ship life as a call to ac­tion.

“My gim­mick is spread­ing good mu­sic and turn up mu­sic with a mes­sage,” he says.

“So Ju­manji is in­spired by telling the story of the ’hood and em­pow­er­ing the ’hood at the same time. The ’hood is fig­u­ra­tively like a con­crete Ju­manji. It’s a song that talks about all th­ese so­cial is­sues in the ’hood that set peo­ple back from achiev­ing what they need to achieve.” He com­pares it to his first sin­gle,

Am­bi­tions, but with a lit­tle more fo­cus: “Ju­manji also en­cour­ages the power of prayer and be­ing op­ti­mistic. In­stead of just talk­ing about the am­bi­tion of mak­ing it, it has more depth about what peo­ple go through than Am­bi­tions had.”

The qual­ity of Tweezy’s pro­duc­tion has never been in ques­tion. His long line of credits, which in­cludes pro­duc­tion for the likes of Riky Rick, AKA and Em­tee, has earned him back-to-back Pro­ducer of the Year awards at the SAHHAs (South African Hip Hop Awards).

As an es­tab­lished pro­ducer look­ing to grow into a bank­able solo artist, he’s still find­ing his feet and search­ing for a clear di­rec­tion. But

Ju­manji shows growth. It also maps out the path he wishes to fol­low more clearly.

When we last spoke in Septem­ber, a few weeks be­fore his still-un­re­leased mix­tape

Fuego was set for re­lease, Tweezy told of how he was em­bark­ing on a jour­ney as a solo artist that re­quired his fans and mu­sic crit­ics alike not to box him up based on Am­bi­tions, but to al­low each of his re­leases to act as pieces to the puz­zle. His vi­sion and sound would be clearer once the mix­tape dropped, he’d ex­plained.

With fans still wait­ing for Fuego, Ju­manji acts as a much-needed buf­fer from the noise and pres­sure that comes with a de­layed project.

On Ju­manji, Tweezy’s pro­duc­tion is at its most thun­der­ous with the pound­ing sound of gun­shots strewn around its rapid, men­ac­ing bassline. His rap­ping, a com­bi­na­tion of Zulu and English, is sharp and de­ci­sive.

“I’m look­ing to do a whole lot more fea­tures this year with the main­stream DJs and main­stream artists,” he says. “I’m look­ing to pro­duce more songs of course. It’s just the year to ex­pose my­self as an artist a bit more.”

Last year, Tweezy’s cus­tom­ary pro­duc­tion tag wasn’t as ev­i­dent as in pre­vi­ous years. Many in­ter­preted this as Tweezy do­ing less work. But Tweezy says he just turned the tag off last year as a brand­ing strat­egy.

“I was switch­ing from pro­ducer to artist at that mo­ment, so to get my fo­cus up on be­ing an artist, I switched off the tag so it could kind of dis­tract my pro­ducer hype, which was quite suc­cess­ful. This year I’m bring­ing it back so we have more face in the pro­duc­tion again.”

Last year wasn’t plain sail­ing for Tweezy. He had to nav­i­gate a very pub­lic beef with former col­lab­o­ra­tor AKA and try find his feet as a solo artist amidst an au­di­ence re­luc­tant to ac­cept him out­side of his pro­duc­tion work. He says he ne­go­ti­ated th­ese chal­lenges by stay­ing pos­i­tive, fo­cus­ing on his fans and work­ing hard. If Ju­manji is a teaser of what’s to come this year, it’s easy to see him break­ing through as solo artist and mak­ing a name for him­self out­side of his fa­mous Ay­obuur tag.

Rap­per/pro­ducer Tweezy is en­cour­ag­ing ’hood dwellers to keep on fol­low­ing their dreams, just as he pur­sues his own, writes Shin­gai Darangwa

Tweezy’s much-an­tic­i­pated Fuego al­bum has fans on ten­ter­hooks, so he re­leased Ju­manji to show he isn’t play­ing games.

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