Album in Focus: Vibes The Long Game Vol.1

Based in Bulawayo Cottage 47 is a creative hub that's pushing new ideas in Zimbabwe's creative space and it is home to various artists. I bumped into it after checking out the talented Chioniso and her project Heaven Is Closer Than You Know. She happens to be among the artists that call Cottage 47 home. It's still a young project but judging from the talent they are surrounded with, I'm expecting big things. Last year the outfit hosted a mental health concert titled "Cottage Fest" which was a glowing success. They're also winners of a Zimhiphop Award.

Vibes: The Long Game Vol. 1 comes as the first project from the group as a whole. It had 17 artists, 5 producers, 2 mixing engineers and 10 tracks. I have to say before I listened to it I was excited but I had no idea what to expect. There is a blend of various musical influences and the project is this medley of sound. Cottage 47 is also doing it's own thing in the distribution of this project with their Proud2Pay platform. A way of selling their album over WhatsApp for 100 dollars a copy.

Ya Ya Ya Ya opens the album with high tempo, energy and upbeat flow. I wasn't into from the go but after a couple of listening my mind got into the rhythm by itself. Automatically I was singing along, "Ya ya ya ya ya ya look at the squad man..." It's a song with hiphop and dancehall influences in its sound. It has lines like, "I'm not patient like a patient in a ward man" and they come off as corny but I smile to myself everytime I get one of them.

Warrup (Part 1) starts off softly and there's this seductive feel to it. It's richly RnB and it's sort an ode to Zimbabwe women. The chorus sends shoutouts to "bad tings" from various cities, notably Mutare, Harare and Bulawayo. Although the project as a whole isn't striking just a single tone, I love the multitude of stories told in it. The artists aren't afraid to ecpress themselves from the lyricism, to the chorus, to the mastering and production.

What do you do switches back to the more typical hiphop vibe and it's along the libes of the trap sound. The song title is the question raised in the chorus "What do you do?" It speaks on various situations you can find yourself in life and how you adapt to being in that position. The lyricism and vocals are pushed into the background as the instrumental dominates the sound.

We no like dem fills our ears with the dancehall sound and it's a track that takes a social activism stance. It points out the partnerships of African governments with China and corruption. While being dominated by dancehall influences, the hiphop element is still there. The music is not executed to a sound that strikes me but the message is everything.

Us we dip blends RnB and hiphop giving us Kendrick on Poetic Justice vibes. It's an easy jam to listen too and while skirting the subject of love, it's a track that speaks on the "squad". I would even say it's about the loyalty of the friends you surround yourself with and how you move together.

Nyami Nyami Honey is another track that has a heavily textured instrumental. Although energetic it distorts the vocals and you can't completely appreciate the vocals. Swimming is another laid back song that takes me back to Kendrick's Swimming Pools in the rhyme nature of the chorus. You just easily sink into it as it plays.

Warrup (Part 2) has the same chorus as part one but a different crop of artists is dropping bars now. And I have to say part 2 didn't hit me as hard as one. It could be that I'm just not a fan of sequels but then part 1 had that "that thing" about it I couldn't place. Zambezi Flow has something of it about old school Zimbabwean music that I couldn't quite place. It's definitely a vibe though. The mood of it and the lyrical delivery just hit the right spot. There's a bit of reggaton, hiphop and RnB all executed to perfection.

It's always complex doing a collaborative project because you each artist's uniqueness to be represented but you also want the project as a whole to strike a particular tone that leaves an impression on the listener. Vibes is filled with spots of individual brilliance but together some of the elements were in conflict. It's a project dominated by RnB, HipHop and Dancehall influences but there's something that it kind of missed in bringing these elements together. It's often you have to strike a balance and with Cottage 47 you could almost say they did too much.

However when you listen to tracks like Ekhaya you realise that Cottage 47 might already have everything. You can tell the right ingredients are already and the recipe is just missing a few final steps. I'm definitely looking to more from these guys as individual artists and as an ensemble.

Greedysouth rating: 5.9/10

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