When I first heard of Afrotraction (born Wandile Moya) and his music, primarily from his debut album, I was not at all moved. I honestly could not understand what the hype was about, He was primarily talking about a human experience that has been written and sung about more times than one can even count - love - and according to me was not bringing anything groundbreaking to it.
But this all changed when I heard his new offering, For the Lovers. The album was released independently under his record label Magnum Opus. He composed, produced and arranged all the songs on the album. It seems that the independent route truly allowed him to show his musicianship. Although he has not signed any artists to his label, when he does sign an artist, Afrotraction says they have to have soul as a base, something which he demonstrates in his own music.
This album, comprising 13 tracks, is undoubtedly for the connoisseur of good soul music. Track 2, "Imali", meaning "money" in Zulu, talks about money not being able to buy love, and is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. I have a feeling this might be an anthem and a comfort for my broke, unemployed brothers out there in pursuit of love. In it, he addresses what is a common narrative for many relationships, when one chooses a partner based on how much they can get from them. So, although he communicates through soul music, addressing the heart, he does challenge the mind as well. One of the lines that stayed with me from the song is when he says "Awu yege u ku thandwa nge mali", which means "stop being loved by money".
Afrotraction sings in Zulu, mixing in a bit of English. This together with his smooth voice is what gives the unmistakable South African authenticity as well as offering a global appeal. He is the perfect example that one does not have to imitate Americans to produce music on their level. Another song that I think will be a definite hit is track 4 on the album, "Ngeke" which means "never" in Zulu. In it he declares to his lover that no one else can love her the way he does. "Most Beautiful Girl", on which he features Kabomo, is a declaration of a woman's beauty. "Nomalanga", "Ukuba Nawe", "Tonight" and "Zokuphatha Kahle" featuring Malik and Presss are some of the other songs to look out for.
But of course the perfect album dedicated to love would not be complete without that one special love song dedicated to one's first ever love, one's mother. On "Mama" he shares what his mom taught him, which is truly icing on the cake of this great album.
Although this album is largely dedicated to lovers and those sharing their hearts with someone else, this album can put anyone in a romantic mood. What largely stands out throughout the album is not so much what he says, but how he says it; or, how soul says it. I have a feeling this album will be a constant feature at weddings come wedding season.
The album was released on 28 July and is available on iTunes.
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