Album in Focus: Bhundu Pop EP By Ishan. The Sounds Of The Jungle

On December 4th Ishan's highly anticipated project Bhundu Pop was released and without a doubt the sounds of the Zimbabwean jungle are in safe hands with him. It is a body of work that firmly establishes the 22 year old in the Zimbabwean music industry. It carries features from the likes of Gemma Griffiths, GZE, Tamy Moyo and the currently on fire Nutty O. It's a project seemingly hinged on the success of his breakout hit Kure and by that I mean Ishan was close to giving up on music when Kure was released. It was his last roll of the dice and luckily for us it struck gold.

Speaking on the project Ishan said, "The goal is to create good and enjoyable music that the people can relate to. It’s no longer about having a nice beat to cover everything but lately people are listening to how well a song is arranged, are the lyrics well thought out and what story is being told and that is what I’ve aimed for with this project. I have included the traditional African drum patterns and melodies and fused them with a bit of electronic sounds hence terming the project Bhundu Pop."

The release of Bhundu Pop was preceded by two singles. The first one was Maidei (Peanut Butter), a passionately sang love that tugged on heart strings. It was the song of a questioning heart and it touched on unrequited love among other topics rising out of enotional situations. It was a beautiful song and in it was an identifiable shift in sound from his breakout hit Kure. It was met with reasonable success but in my mind the reception didn't match how good of a single it is.

The song that came after it was December ft GZE and this too was another emotionally filled joint. December carries a calm nature that features a mixture of instruments that give it an authentically Zimbabwean sound. It speaks on memories of/from December and these are memories of his mother which hold a special place in him. The song is a homecoming journey. 

GZE opens his verse with, "Zvinonzi kusina mai hakuendwe zvozonzi kura uone because life is a journey." It's wordplay and lyricism that remains consistent throughout his verse and he lets everyone know why he deserved to be featured on this track. It's a mellow joint that feels with thoughts of a mothers love and it draws you to images of a martenal figure, no matter the situation you grew up in.

When the EP finally dropped the first track I listened to was MuGhetto (Ghetto) and instantly it was my song. It's a journey of nostalgia as Ishan takes us through his childhood and he not only reflects on how he grew up but how the country as a whole grew through those years. The chorus borrows lyrics from Cde Chinx's famous song Hondo Yeminda which was a theme song for the land reform program in the early 2000's in Zimbabwe.

Mrs Ril Baad ft Tamy Moyo takes back to 90's pop and it just has that feeling of thriller jackets and phone booths, accompanied with illegal parties in a mall car park. The song is dedication to Ishan's dream woman and it's actually a really dope joint. Feelings ft Nutty O rivals MuGhetto for my favourite song on the project. It has a different feel to the rest of the project especially the club edit version of the song. Nutty O adds that much needed dancehall flavour and I could vibe to this track again and again.

One call away ft Gemma Griffiths is a beautiful up tempo duet and Ishan and the songstress compliment each other greatly. Gemma's vocal range is unmatched as usual and there's just something about the song. Ukandisiya touches on matters of the heart again and it has Ishan unique sound all over. Mhanya completes the package of storytelling and the exploration of sound.

Production credits on this project go to GangstaMadeIt, Rayo Beats, YoungDLC, Boi Tricky, Lloyd Soul and Texas, who make the glue that brings this versatile and genre twisting project together.

Greedysouth rating: 7.3/10

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