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We Sell Hope not Dope

We Sell Hope not Dope

by Harry-Belafonte Khumalo / 04.02.2010

The Volume’s front man Tumi is in high spirits, I initially thought it something to do with the excitement of dropping a new album and perhaps even filling up the venue for the unofficial launch of Whole Worlds, but I was wrong.

It had to do with something more profound and personal than that. He’s finally won over some of his toughest critics – his formerly indifferent cousins. “My lil’ cousins like Brickz, they’ve always respected me, but now they have my album!” He beams.

Tumi & MXO

Now I’m just like everyone else who’s anal about their hip hop, we like our food-for-thought packaged a certain way i.e hard beats and dope rhymes. While Tumi can’t be faulted on the rhymes front, the new-age/ US southern bouncy kwaito-esque beat to his lead single “Bambezela” featuring Bricks and Tracy-Lee , which won his cousin’s over, threw me off a bit.

My anxieties of seeing a real MC fall by the wayside into a world of cheese were soon allayed after getting my hands on the CD (which for the record is dope). It turned out “Bambezela” was just one of the many styles represented on this diverse and most excellent album. And with a sense of relief giving way to curiosity, I decided to get off an hour early from my regular gig and head to the uppity enclave known as Melrose Arch to see what Tumi’s new stuff is all about.

Expectations

It was a rather intimate and well put together setup and the venue was packed. While awaiting the main act we endured the SA party staple –house music – for longer than I thought necessary. DJ Kenzhero did flip the script a little for the fiends but the fix couldn’t have lasted longer than 30 minutes.

The Whole Worlds Band

Perched on a stool on stage Tumi opened the show with a poignant poem dedicated to the King of Pop. With that out of the way he welcomed all to his, “whole world” and introduced all to his new band. He was quick to point out that The Volume still exists. But the “Whole Worlds” backing outfit was an all Pretoria affair with Peach Von Pletzen of Yesterday’s Pupil on drums and Alex from Isochronous on bass and keys and Richard, Kid of Doom & Isochronous on vocals and guitar. Insane, the best of Pretoria’s avant garde indie rockers backing one of SA’s most exciting MCs. They announced their arrival with a rousing hip hop meets rock version of “Let it burn.”

Peach

This was the one song where all three exhibited their chemistry and the crowd threw the energy right back. The band held it together despite it being their first time on stage. Richard did later admit that the machine was not that well-oiled yet. And to his surprise I gathered, two of the big names featured on the record made appearances that night. MXO joined the MC to rock it one of the nicest tracks on the CD called “Family plan.”
But things went bat-shit-crazy once Bricks jumped on stage for what Tumi described as his trick on mainstream radio, the single “Bambezela”. Yip, as Tumi puts it, “he don’t sell dope, he sells hope”. The instrumental is an unlikely vehicle but yeah, judging from the crowd’s response he and the little cousins were on to something.

Tumi’s “Whole Worlds” stage show is not to be missed, short tracks, no long solos and no major theatrics, just the right chemistry of a whole bunch of South Africa’s finest musical talent mashing it on stage.

Whole Worlds

All images © and courtesy Refiloe Ramogase from VAN D1 Entertainment.

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. the bee's knees says:

    Not to knock you guys, and Tumi is nice, but this album has been getting so much hype, and it’s not even that fresh. And not to mention, mainstream rappers get enough press as it is. I really would appreciate it if Mahala took as much effort in researching and reporting on Hip Hop as it did other genres. This cat is hardly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all things opposite the Ama Kip Kip generation. Hip Hop is a grass-roots movement – most of its illest performers do not get to perform at Melrose Arch with major kwaito artists. Please try harder. No one else is. There is so much more to South African Hip Hop, so much more, than what is readily visible. For example, and a start, you could challenge yourselves with finding a group/emcee as obscure in the rap world as Fruit & Veg is in the _______ world. Get them and put them on blast. You won’t regret it. The South African Hip Hop underground remains one of the most grossly neglected musical subcultures in this country, we can’t let it fade away. Joburg inner city in and of itself is bananas right now. Place an ear to the ground.

    Peace.

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  2. Mary says:

    Wow, how exactly is Tumi mainstream?

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  3. Roger Young says:

    Yo! Bee’s Knees. We hear you. It may take us a little while longer but we’ll find it.

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  4. Andy says:

    Bee’s knees pls drop me a mail with some suggestions and we’ll follow it up andy@mahala.co.za

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  5. Bradley says:

    yo bees knees, you seem to be very passionate about the hip-hop movement, maybe a little naive as well in that your statement’s so contradicting… if joburg underground hip-hop remains underground, it will continue to be as you say “neglected”, the fact that tumi is taking this music to melrose arch is great cos he is growing that very same hip-hop movement without making 120bpm dance hits, the joint with the kwaito artist has more integrity than entire collection of downtown mc’s freestyle raps on any given day… i hate going, there but thought i’d get that off my chest. Lastly bees, tumi did a free gig downtown last week at ko’spotong ghandi square, this week he will be in voslorus (do you even know where that is), do your homework, listen to the lyrics carefully (yes press rewind) and try to comprehend before you talk shit, its cats like you that give the movement a bad name.nuff said.

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  6. Tumi Molekane says:

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    hey Bees Knees
    put me in between Generations and Big Brother, you are likely to hear the same verse about me so desparately wanting to be the tip of the iceberg of all thing opposite the AMA KIP KIP generation. when you are done saving the culture, We’ll still be here creating it.

    to Mahala, C’mon guys I expected more than a puff piece. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bradley, did you get the new AMA KIP KIP AFRICA T-shirts from ROS BANK?

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  7. Manai says:

    I see me and my girls in the front there…great times…fab night.

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  8. Andy says:

    Hey Tumi careful what you wish for… I’m coming to your next gig. And I’m gonna steal some more “content” off your blog!

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  9. T says:

    I missed tumi when he was in Durbs(the downfalls of being a farm boy )
    But nonetheless, I finally coped the new album, give me a week and I will get back to you about my views on it.

    On Bees’ Knees point. I half heartedly support him, buut at the sametime am not trying to be affiliated with his train of thought. My view is more of a request or a plea to be more exact.
    Please put MANELIS on. I have his EP on rotate on an almost daily. I think that you’ve interviewed fruit and veg soo many times and there are groups/ bands / artists that are of the same circle and are worth checking out.

    Infact if you don’t mind I can drop you my view(I am too scared to call it a review) of Manelis’s album

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  10. Mutsai says:

    LMAO!!! Tumi is mainstream!!! Try telling that to the radio stations who’ve been sleeping on his joints for years.

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  11. Thabo Manoto says:

    big fan of Tumi, haven’t heard this one yet but i am dying to get my hands on it! but yeah him with bricks feels a bit like common and Pharrel but i am hoping the album is as dope as all his other offerings.

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  12. MooZee.S says:

    Hott album Mr.T its good to see you evolving with the times… Growing if you may! TOTALLY Dig the new material!!!!

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  13. LG says:

    Love Bambazela! But can’t find the lyrics online anywhere!! Pls help, send to my email, or send me a link to get them???

    thx 🙂

    LG

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  14. Frank Sechaba Pule. says:

    Ok firstly bees knees, you talking crap bra. I’m not sure you listened carefully to the album. Secondly. I just bought the album, Damn tumi. Its dope. From the CD cover to The Disc itself. I love the intro on the first page where you briefly broke down what the Whole World means to you. Dope beats too. Too ill. Lol and oh. LOVE THE HIDDEN TRACK ft Zubs, lol he sounds like he has had enough of being took for granted. Too dope.

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  15. Blaq-Soul says:

    Whole Worlds deserves to be framed and placed next to the Mona Lisa, it’s a classic. Tumi is on point, doesn’t miss a note. This is a work of art. Production takes the back stage to the real, hard heart felt lyrics. In short, you are a Hip Hop head if this masterpiece is not in your rack.
    BIG T – thank you keeping the movement alive. Salute

    Top 5 eMCees
    1. Tumi
    2. Mos Def
    3. Common
    4. Black Thought
    5. Lupe Fiasco/ Proverb

    Done deal

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