Album in Focus: SMOKE EP By TMak

Affectionately known as Captain Zimbabwe, TMak is here with his latest project SMOKE to talk cigarettes, mental health and save the trap music scene in Zimbabwe. Born Tawanda Makanga, TMak is a Bulawayo based rapper, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and member of the widely renowned creative hub Cottage 47. He started turning heads a few years ago, when hit single “Checking on Price” dropped. A song that featured Zimbabwean hip-hop royalty, ASAPH. Since then, TMak dropped multiple singles, EPs and an album.

According to the artist, his vision is to be the voice of Zimbabwean youth, focusing on channeling his innovation and creativity towards paving the way for future artists in the Zimbabwean music industry. And from conversations being led by Cottage 47 and last year's concert, targeting mental health awareness, TMak is well on his way to fulfilling that vision. 

SMOKE comes as the artist's second project in just a few months after MOSHPIT VIBES which dropped earlier in the year. The boy is not here to play and I must say I applaud his work ethic. SMOKE is a short project with only 5 tracks and about 20 minutes listening time. It's sort of centered around cigarettes and smoking but the music goes deeper than that.

It's an urban Hip-hop project and by that I mean it has the sound that has dominated Hip-hop in recent years. The EP is filled with trap beats, offset by clearly sung lyrics and the music is catchy but still meaningful. The projects track list makes clear the theme of cigarettes, smoking and even the lyricism brings this out.

SMOKE EP Track-list:

1. BROKEN VAE (Prod. Portland)

2. MOGO (Prod. Portland)

3. Too Much Smoke (Prod. Portland)

4. Top Shata (Prod. Portland)

5. U.A (Prod. Area51)

MOGO kicks off with an easy instrumental and TMak expressing his love for cigarettes on a lazy sounding chorus. And the subject matter aside the track carries a great vibe to it. Tmak switches up his cadence between verses and the playful lyricism makes it one of those anytime tracks that don't take you deep in thought but you can just bump your head to.

BROKEN VAE as the title says talks about broken cigarettes but there's more to it. It feels like broken cigarettes are a metaphor for life's problems and the chorus even alludes to this. Tmak goes, "I've got a broken vae in my pocket, mira zvekunetsa ndine maproblems..." which clearly shows they're things going on deeper than a broken cigarette. And if you've ever had a conversation with a smoker about smoking you'll know that they describe a cigarette as having that calming effect that says everything will be alright. So, it's an apt representation that a broken cigarette is a situation in which you have problems that you don't think you can fix.

TOO MUCH SMOKE continues this use of smoking related metaphors to relay deeper subjects. It sounds like a cry for help or rather a plea for space. It's layered in the things it talks about and it still has that mellow vibe to it that makes this whole project an easy listen. 

TOP SHATA elevates the energy and takes up on high with its tempo. It's the perfect balancing act in the feeling on this EP as it offers something different from the mellow sound of the first three tracks.

U.A (Ooouuuu Ahhhhh) offers the perfect ending although there's a line in it about Kikkybadass that I just wasn't with. Whenever I'm listening to an EP or an album, I love it when you can see the path of the music from one track to another and that was evident here. I think this might my favorite Cottage 47 project to date. The production work and the mixing & mastering were excellent, hats off to Portland and Area51 along with the rest of the team who brought this project together.

Greedysouth rating: 6.7/10

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