Mpitseby Brandon Edmonds / 11.07.2013
If you were wondering, stop. SA pop’s greatest, fleetest, flyest, sweetest, flowing-est chorus – at least of the god-awful Century so far – belongs to Jabba’s ‘Mpitse’. HHP is the crown prince of Motswako (the poppy commercial style of Mafikeng) and he could well be this nation’s saving grace, in the face of great odds. His transcendent melodies are certainly emotive and generous enough to suture this ragged old country back together before the Rapture needle scratches this whole human travesty to a well-deserved end. Ha-ha.
And what with winter deepening and Tata fixin’ to bid adieu to this mortal coil (yoh, the wonders the man has seen: freedom, unfreedom, Winnie’s pussy, sainthood, wealth, a guerilla struggle and rocky island hell – thank goodness he’s too far gone to see what self-serving cunts so many in his lucky, rich, entitled family have turned out to be); the NSA proving every one of Orwell, Ballard and Phillip K Dick’s supposedly paranoid dystopian fantasies entirely true; Egypt and Brazil imploding, the Randela plummeting, and Don Draper finally bravely soberly facing himself: we need to party or, you know, try new ways of doing the things capitalism used to be able to do: promise the future, deliver the goods, make rational sense. And party.
Should you throw one, a party, ‘Mpitse’ (invite over) Jabba’s music because it really is winningly light, right and tight – and many other adjectives evoking what he’s all about: syrupy lyrical flow. Few can coast on flow as fluent or expert as the Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP). You want to kiss your fingers and show ‘Bellisimo!’ like Artie from The Sopranos every time you hear it. Refined and classical as a long drive by Els, here’s a flow to salivate over like something rich and slow-cooked from the oven. Jabba is the real thing. He’d take MC battles anywhere. Drop him in Bogota, Phuket or Gstaad and he’d find a way to win the Prize.
Think Warren G and Biggy with a little Mos Def and Teddy Pendergrass on top. Smart, warm flow. Like being licked to distraction by a hundred naked linguists who look like Rosie Huntington-Whitely or the werewolf guy from True Blood (whatever flicks your spot, G). Jabba’s easy to enjoy and admire, he really ought to be ten squijillion times bigger (here and everywhere else) than he is, sales-wise, or according to whatever criteria still matters to ‘the music industry’ (poor pirated bastards). That he isn’t, be straight up racist! Just kidding.
Jabba’s the anti-Yeezy, asking to be invited over on the gorgeous ‘Mpitse’, never assuming there ain’t no party without him, like Kanye all over the self-aggrandizing Yeezus. There’s a line where braggadocio becomes self-defeating. Talking yourself up too long can make even the blindest disciple pity your wounds. HHP seems healthy at heart, grounded and brought up right. Small towns can be good for rappers, enabling solid values and clear heads. He’s worked with Nas (Nas!), Wyclef likes him and he even won “Strictly Come Dancing” – which is insanely good going for a big-boned kid from ‘Maf-town’.
He’s made a lot of great music; albums worth digging into like 2003’s Oh Mang? and his masterpiece Acceptance Speech (2007), and search out great songs like the re-working of ‘Jabulani’, feel-good ‘Jabba’ and the excellent ‘Harambe’.
Still, there’s no better way into HHP’s welcoming arms than ‘Mpitse’ with its award-winning video and tiptop production. The drums feel like the backbone of a big 80s hit like Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ but slowed down to contain Jabba’s signature flow, while a buried guitar, straight out of Jimmy Dldudlu, chimes somewhere in there and everything rolls along the greased rails of that plucky bass line and sublime lilting chorus. Pop well made, with point counterpoint, in contrasts pop lives by, so high voices meet low voices, as the song’s momentum keeps building then crumpling and building again.
“It’s the last verse man,” Jabba warns near the end, and this is exactly what makes the cut a treat. There’s an uncomplicated relaxedness here that slips past all your defenses. A crunchy, eternal summer jam fit for birthdays, graduations, joyrides and hookups. A song to get married to or click when you just got promoted or evicted. Miraculously, HHP has made an objective correlative to the feeling we all live to feel: alive.