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STREAM: Sun-EL Musician, Sjava, Boity, Sha Sha, Zakwe & Duncan

A bunch of hot releases for December 2020.

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It was inevitable that the first Friday of December would set the tone for the rest of the festive season. And a bunch of South African music faves lavished the soundscape with new albums, EP’s and singles. As they should.

SUN-EL MUSICIAN 

We’ve been saying this for a while now; Sun-EL Musician is the most consistent music producer in the land. What started with his breakout hit Akanamali back in 2017, has kept picking up in velocity.

Not even the fact that he’s building his own stable, where he’s crafted and nurtured the careers of fresh voices Simmy and Mthunzi, has compromised the quality of his musical deliverables.

That’s why on his second studio album, To The World and Beyond, Sun-El has been able to deliver 15 fire bangers that will likely see him continue to mark his territory through 2021. The album features ‘Ubomi Abumanga‘, the soul-stirring anthem of faith with Msaki on guest vocals.

Let’s bet on some Rands that ‘Chasing Summer‘ will be another blockbuster smasher from the album. It’s beautiful to see Sun El putting on his production virtuosity on display. Msaki layers her sun-drenched vocals over electric synths on the joint, Claudio x Kenza are credited as collaborative production dab-hands.

Go ahead and stream this record, it’s a lush delight.

ZAKWE & DUNCAN 

Right now, the future of SA Hip Hop is a hot subject of debate. Just this past July, K.O mourned the slow decline in the relevance, impact, and commercial viability of the genre that not so long ago, dominated the charts. Of course, there have been a few triumphs in between the dry gaps, but it’s hard to ignore the plunge in consumer interest.

Zakwe and Duncan’s eponymously titled joint project brings to the surface another element that should be the focus – substance. On the 15-track project, the rappers deliver the kind of storytelling that is both moving and thought-provoking. Heart and Mind. See?

In this authentic piece, the collaborators take it back to basics. They tug at the heartstrings of Conscious Rap and the best of Kwaito, shunning the clout glazed seductions of drill and trap. The production quality is stunning, the confidence in their delivery is inspiring, and the record as a cohesive set is coherent and seamless.

This is some good music and the album is a strong contender for Best SA Hip Hop album in 2020.

SHA SHA 

When it comes to the First Lady of the Yanos, we have no choice but to stan! Having owned early 2019 with a slew of chart-toppers spawned by her solo projects and collaborations with Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa, she went away.

You’d think she was hibernating. Maybe she was, but all within the creative confines of the studio.

The Zimbabwe-born singer takes herself seriously, and she understands that she’s a business. For her latest track Woza, she teamed up with world-renowned visual artist Trevor Stuurman for the constellation of visual themes on the music video and single artwork.

Personally, Woza is my favourite of the new single drops that landed on Friday. It’s got every ingredient of a hit that can sustain a long streak in the streets. It’s that mellow side of amapiano, which finds Sha Sha melting her soft voice over Kabza’s rhythmic instrumentals.

We love this for her.

FOCALISTIC 

Pitori Maradona is having his supreme moment of encounter with destiny. On the same day that his hotly anticipated album Sghubu Ses’ Excellent dropped, he also got crowned MTV Base’s Hottest MC in South Africa.

The panel, consisting of culture pundits Scoop Makhathini, Nota, Ms Cosmo and DJ Speedsta, came to the conclusion that his ascension has been the most epic to witness.

Still, many people keep asking about whether he falls under Hip Hop or Amapiano. There’s no doubt that he’s gained most of his prominence from the latter sound. That’s the thing though, the definition of an MC has evolved through the years to encompass a vast range of varying styles.

Cassper Nyovest did this with Sweet & Short, and kept his rapper hat. Now the likes of Riky Rick are singing and rapping of piano instrumentals.

Focalistic, though, is the leader in the particular sound. He’s found a way to straddle both cultures seamlessly, and his album backs this fact. Over 14 tracks, he collaborates with a house music incumbents Vigro Deep, Junior Taurus, Jazzi Disciples, DJ Maphorisa, Reece Madlisa and amongst others Mas Musiq.

These are the hottest names right now. Focalistic wanted to make the perfect hit album, and there are several dancefloor fillers here.

SJAVA 

The singer must be in a different headspace right now. According to reports, the sexual assault case against him was allegedly thrown out of court. This is, of course, a complex topic that we could have another time. But Sjava, the artist, releases this EP within an interesting and tricky atmosphere.

Entitled ‘Umsebenzi’, the EP consists of just four sweet songs. It will take you not more than 17 minutes to flow through richly abundant poetic justice, a display of emotive vocal technique, authentic storytelling and an elevated expression of his overall musicality.

The first single ‘Umcebo’ is the lead from the handful, and has already risen up quite high on digital charts (currently in the top 10 on iTunes).

Sjava is talented, and the music here could have easily formed the groundwork for a fuller album. But he knows what he is doing and it shows.

BOITY 

2020 has been a busy year for Boity. She rolled out a few projects, fiddling with the dials across different industries.

She’s now navigating retail, what with a perfume line in partnership with a luxury perfume producer, the season 1 debut of her ‘Own Your Throne’ reality show on BET, a haircare line, and a few other endeavours here and there.

 

On Friday, she proved that music did not slide down her list of priorities. After adding the ‘rapper’ title to her long list of gigs within the SA media business, she took on the scene and ran as far as she could with two singles.

Entitled 4436, the EP features 9 tracks and a slew of collaborations. Yanga Chief, Maggz, Riky Rick, Ginger Trill and Maglera Doe Boy. There’s Nasty C on the previously released Wuz Dat.

Discover New Music, Exclusive Interviews and Album Reviews on QuenchSA.com!

 

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Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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