Album in Focus: El Jefe by Ryan Synth

Hailing from the City of Kings and Queens, Bulawayo, Ryan Synth is a DJ and producer on the pulse of everything House music in Zimbabwe. Renowned for his dexterous touch on decks, his name has become synonymous with Bulawayo's - and to some extent Harare's - night life.

Ryan Synth 

The DJ has not only graced clubs but taken his talent to various radio stations and even music festivals. Always one for experimentation, his latest body of work is a testament to this. 

El Jefe. The Boss. While the phrase brings to mind "Narcos", the Spanish titled EP is not a homage to the Escobar's of the world, but a celebration of the confidence that exudes through his music. The project is also a fusion of Mexican music and southern African sounds. While an audacious attempt, the experimentation works. El Jefe is certainly Ryan Synth's Eureka moment.

The production is lush, with a calm tempo that's easy on the ear, and cross continental sounds that are the rock bed of Dance music. On El Jefe, Ryan Synth says "f**k the vocals", and if I'm being honest there's genuinely no need for them. What the DJ achieves with synth, wide percussive bass lines, drums, guitar and jazz inflected keys is simply phenomenal.

El Jefe is dominated by Private School Piano with a touch of Mexico. Rio Grande (No Man's Land) kicks things and it has a calm but titillating intro, that settles to a soothing tempo. It feels void of a climax but it is ever soothing and characterised by the strum of guitar strings that feel just right. Hamba Njani (iNumber) is more vibrant and carries the sound of percussion but there's still that easy and calm feeling.

Ryan Synth is certainly the star of the occasion but his collaborators more than carry their own weight. Prince Joel, CUSTO, Benjamin, and Kinah The Music make for a great supporting cast. Especially Kinah with his delicate work on the guitar.

Dlala Wena carries undefined vocal sounds, a chanting of sorts that perfectly meets the rhythm and makes the a true dance floor song. The track builds up a momentary climax right in the middle, and then lulls in rhythm to almost silence, before rising again. It is easily my favourite track from this project. NACHO is sensual with a strong feeling of Jazz and the title track El Jefe closes this EP out, with what I would describe as the sound of a Mariachi band over Private School Yanos.

While I may not have the words to truly capture the sounds Ryan Synth brings together on El Jefe, I can tell you it feels like a sonic serenade on the ears. There is certainly a divine touch to the production and it has untold potential to sway a crowd into kinetic rhythm. El Jefe is by far one of my favourite Amapiano projects to come out of Zimbabwe, or be done by any Zimbabwean anywhere. In this moment, if music was gold, Ryan Synth would be Midas.

Greedysouth rating: 7.8/10

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