Album in Focus: A Travel Guide For The Broken By Synik

Album in Focus: A Travel Guide For The Broken By Synik

A Travel Guide For The Broken album cover

When you think of the artists that defined the initial era of Zimbabwean Hip-Hop that came after Urban Grooves broke apart into the different elements that made it up, Synik is up there with the best of them. His debut album Syn City was career-defining and so good it's touted by a lot of hip-hop heads as top 5 all-time. Recently Synik dropped his latest project, an album titled A Travel Guide For The Broken.

It's a lot of the old Synik that people saw rise to stardom but it's also none of him. A Travel Guide For The Broken displays how much Synik has grown not only as an artist but as a person. It's a project that is heavily introspective while socially conscious and Synik's storytelling is as good as ever. The project has 12 tracks with several features that compliment Synik and the live instrumentation in the music's production.

The project opens up with a Prelude, which sets up the first song Rukuvhute and this is the perfect opener for this project. From the live instrumentation to Vusa Mkhaya's delivery on the hook. It blends together sounds, language, and storytelling and sets you up with everything you can expect from this project.

Wega is a rather poignant song although the way Synik sings it, he sounds triumphant. He's talking about the adjustment to life in a foreign country and how relations with family & friends are different. Wega speaks about overcoming the odds alone and always figuring out a way. The voice of the song is somehow victorious but the lyrics are heavy and carry a certain sadness in them. 

A Travel Guide For The Broken comes as a calming voice. It has the feel of smooth jazz punctuated by Synik's deeply thought-out poetry. He talks about home as more than a geographical location but this flesh we temporarily occupy. It's a song about healing and finding where we belong on this journey of life.

You are unique as fingerprints leaving marks on the fabric of time
May your path be of your own choosing
Be unapologetic about the space you occupy

Something More ft Debbie with a T is hopeful while being inherently socially conscious and political. Synik shares his worldview through a filter of heavy introspection and captivating storytelling. And what a gift Debbie with a T is on the song, her delivery is so beautiful and it serenades you within the music.

The Other Side carries more intense energy about it and you could say Synik sounds more passionate or torn inside rather than by the story he's telling. He speaks about the struggle you don't see and essentially it's about the story of the migrant. The lyricism, delivery, and production of this song are just phenomenal. The way Synik tells the story stands out and makes it one of my favorites on this album. I lost count of how many times I replayed that opening verse.

He awoke with a start, driven by the hope in his heart
Envisioning the road and steering his soul to depart
The sun hadn't risen, the village was cloaked in the dark
Recalled the words that he was given when they showed him the chart

Kutenda ft Vivalda Ndula is an ode or homage to Africa. It's appropriately named Kutenda which means to be grateful in Shona because Synik sings with pride that he's African and tells the story of the continent beautifully as a gift to where he belongs. Vivalda delivers a beautiful performance on the chorus that transcends languages. It draws you in and keeps you hooked.

Underground ft Biko Emcee talks about the grit or toughness required to get through life. Still Here switches up the energy and gives a glimpse at a more vibrant Synik. The subject is still richly introspective and filled with deep thought but it's an easy listen. Debbie with a T delivers another great performance which makes for an even better duet. Too Fly which was the lead single for the album is slow-paced but filled with positivity. Synik's cadence shines as he delivers an uplifting message and he offers up a balance to the heaviness carried on the project.

Synik has a complete project together here. There's a story being told from start to finish and although it's not that catchy sound we've become used to sonically, the storytelling more than makes up for it. In an era of melodies, he puts the lyrical at the forefront. From Janne Halonen, Gas Lab & Tayob J on the production plus the mixing and mastering, to the entire team on the instruments. It's a story told well and with a coherent voice.

Greedysouth rating: 7/10

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