Album in Focus: Caveman EP By Tha Bees

When it comes to Tha Bees, I'm one of those who're late to the party. So late that the Caveman EP is my first true introduction to him. Yet he's a rapper who's been around for a while, and after I saw how highly rated his performance at OCD's Kulture Kontrol Festival was, I promised myself I would make time to listen to his craft. 

Tha Bees move in that vein of the Zimbabwean Trap and Drill sounds. Sounds that have risen to the fore over the last few years that saw Zimhiphop's re-emergence. It's vernacular lyrics in hoarse baritones, accompanied by energetic beats from a new crop of talented producers that are pushing the Hip Hop genre as much as the rappers.

If a mould of the Zimhiphop artist destined to thrive now was to be made, Tha Bees would be a mirror image of it. Although there's still room for his music to be more refined, what's simply missing for him is that breakout hit. Tha Bees seem to take some inspiration from the likes of Dr. Zobha and Mzekezeke. Face wrapped in bandages like an Egyptian mummy, he casts quite the enigma and instantly differentiates himself from every other Zimbabwean rapper.

His eccentricities just involve his looks but they extend in some ways to his music. Something the Caveman EP testifies to. In some instances, it feels like the project is rather short but then again a lot of storytelling can be squeezed into 8 tracks.

The intro titled "Gaya", offers up the imagination of an alternate universe where Tha Bees is president. It has a gritty and intense sound but it's filled with mostly humour. It's almost like Estos Vincent and Tha Bees were just playing around in the studio when the song came along.

Tha Bees - Caveman EP Review

Questions interrogate life and the purpose of existence, which gives a rather sombre nature. It feels like thoughts experienced in solitude and sonically the song sounds sort of ethereal. 

They ask a lot of questions handina kana answer. 
Who am I? Where I'm going? Handizive
Zvinopera sei?
Most of the people man they don't want to hear the truth
They pointing fingers, who's wrong? Who's who?
Zvinopera sei?

Caveman EP is at its core a Drill project but Cool ft Anita Jaxson offers something on the softer side. The duet is an ode to a lover and it is very easy on the ear. Possibly my favourite song on this project. Although it battles for that honour with Overnight Success which comes next. The song which features Gambit has a certain grit and intensity to it. It reflects on how you don't just stumble into success but you have to consistently work for it.

One thing to be noted about the Caveman EP is that it gives you variation in sound while still being cohesive. In some instances, he reminds me of Voltz JT but he has his own distinctness. Particularly in a certain calmness that comes out in his cadence. The project is also not just great storytelling but production. A combined effort from Estos Vincent, Beat by Craine, Nag Beats and Thirstyfreak.

Vachabatikana comes off as a layered song, with multiple themes from feeling like people don't care for you enough, to self-belief. It has a certain melancholy to it and dare I say it, a feeling of loneliness. Chidembo gains inspiration from the Shona proverb "Chidembo hachivhiyiwe pane vanhu", which means a skunk is not cut up among the people. The Bees uses a skunk (chidembo) as a metaphor for skeletons in the closet or certain secrets that have to be kept from those close to you at times.

Zvingani reflects on hopes and aspirations that weren't seen to fruition, and in a similar vein Dreams talks about how life forces us to stop chasing our dreams and do what has to be done. This gives a fitting ending to a well-rounded project, that certainly ranks up there with some of this year's releases in the genre. It certainly has some moments where it falters in melody and lyricism but as a whole, the Caveman is a firm announcement of Tha Bees's arrival.

Greedysouth rating: 6.7/10

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