We Sell Hope not Dopeby 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
All images © and courtesy Refiloe Ramogase from VAN D1 Entertainment.