Okay Wasabi - Lost In Attridgeville (2017)
Signed up the 06/06/2017Lost In Attridgeville, an album by Okay Wasabi
Lost in Attridgeville is the debut project by comedian/singer/rapper/YouTube sensation George Mguni, better known as Okay Wasabi. On the 9 track album (the vast majority of which is produced by Enkei and Benny of Strobe Light Studios), Wasabi dips into a myriad of sonic backdrops and subject matters some personal, some universal and all having nothing to do with the township for which the album is named.
Straight off the bat, Wasabi opens with LIA (Intro) where he chronicles the conception of the album, whilst effortlessly weaving between laid back flows and auto-tune aided crooning. The content is very meta and self-aware, as if Wasabi is gently knocking on the fourth wall. No doubt that this is a habit retained from Mguni’s days of making parody songs (in the run up to the release of LIA, many expected the album to be a collection of parody songs). On My Way follows, and with it, an immediate injection of energy. This is the kind of song you jump around to, dreadlocks flowing and everything. Daliii, Benny and Dipopaai feature on this one and Wasabi shows he’s not selfish with the ball, always willing to get his Ozil on and let others shine, which they do in spectacular fashion.
Wasabi’s unselfish nature is something of a theme of this album; in a sense, Lost In Attrridgeville belongs to his friends/collaborators as much as him. Perci shines on Backroom/Neruda’s Interlude, painting a picture of time well spent with a significant other while Wasabi drops gems like “broke nigga but she still with me” before Perci returns for the atmospheric second part. The song draws influences from both late 90’s RnB (in Backroom) as well as modern RnB (Neruda’s Interlude). Posse cut Dasswright features verses from no less than 6 artists not named Okay Wasabi, with everybody making the most the short 8 bars they are given. The song is high-octane and the quotables come at you at breakneck speed. Besides the aforementioned songs, all but one song have features on them.
The project moves from Neruda’s Interlude to Isishebo (Sasha’s Song), a sonic love letter to his girlfriend of nearly 3 years. You can hear his affection as he lays vocals over the smoothest of beats, produced by Enkei, Perci Neruda and Benny. The emotion transcends the language barrier so whether you speak isiZulu or not, it’s still a very good song. He also slows the pace down on Sober, a song where he talks about his abstinence from alcohol as well as the reasons behind it. You can hear shades of Sjava as Wasabi gets introspective on the record that features Sphawa. It is a rare topic, almost as rare as non-drinkers Wasabi’s age, and is refreshing as a result.
Grown Up Nigga, which was the first single from the album, is a standout and deserves a mention. The Enkei-produced piece moves at a methodical pace, not unlike Frank Casino’s Whole Thing. The hook and verses are catchy, as is par for a single, but what really shines here is Wasabi’s content. It isn’t so much about an overarching theme as it is about Wasabi dropping quotable after quotable over a pleasing flow. Lines like “wrote this in a taxi, bes’hleli four four nigga” show flashes of Wasabi’s comedic pedigree while lines like “I’m balling, Jomo Sono” are refreshingly homegrown in an industry where South African rappers rap about “whipping that foreign”. Between all that and Thabo Louw’s fiery outro, it really is just a very entertaining song.
George Mguni loves Kingsley, loves his girlfriend Sasha, doesn’t love drinking but above all that, loves the 1475 (the postal code of Vosloorus, Gauteng). He’s a grown nigga who has his own gigs but it’s still not enough; he’s still a broke dude who wants to make it out of the East. He doesn’t want to have to keep sneaking Sasha into the backroom nor does he want to keep coming up short with money for the Uber. This is the story of Okay Wasabi but in a way, this is the story of a lot of young black men in South Africa. And this is the biggest take away from this album. The hot beats, comedic puns, crazy flows, high notes and quotables are all good too, but it is Wasabi’s ability to take the personal and make it universal that makes Lost In Attridgeville a worthwhile project.
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