Hip-Hop Highness

26 June 2015 - 02:08 By Rea Khoabane

After more than 10 years in the music industry, ''Tumi" Molekane, is back with his third album titled Return of the King. On June 16 Molekane released his third album on iTunes unannounced and the album is still the top-selling hip-hop release locally.On the day of the album release, Molekane wrote an open letter titled "We were almost great" on Facebook, expressing the importance of greatness.A section of the letter reads: "I choose great. Always. It's not easy to keep insisting on great. It's expensive, it's time consuming, it's lonely heavy work, it's thankless but it's the only way I know to create and cultivate greatness."Born in Tanzania, while his parents were in exile, the rapper' s family returned to Soweto in 1992.Admired by his fans for his poetic lyrics, Molekane believes that being born in a political household has influenced his art: ''The ideas you grow up with carry into everything you do. The music is formed with a sense of my value system and my purpose - you can hear that in it."Formerly lead vocalist of Tumi and the Volume that was disbanded in 2012, Molekane remains a vital force as a solo artist.His skill as a lyricist provides critical insights into the inheritance of violence from post-apartheid South Africa.His self-awarded title, "King", gives an indication of his confidence. He says he approaches his own music with the assumption that it's important and that the public will value it for enjoyment at their parties, to relieve their problems and to offer reflection.Return of the King is a hip-hop album influenced by afro beats that mixes Kenyan music with Congolese beats, said Molekane.Even though he believes his music is a conversation with his audience, he thinks this album is different from his two previous ones - Music from my Good Eye and Whole World - in the sense that he now has a legacy, hence the title of ''King"."I'm sure of my place, I know where I stand and people know where to place me. They are familiar with who I am," he said."I would like to believe my music is a conversation with my audience, and I believe they should understand and detect the progression I've made."Despite his moniker, though, he still feels grounded: "I'm not here to be memorialised; I just made a new album and the reason I said 'the king is back' is because a lot has changed since my last album".Molekane believes it is an exciting time to be making music in South Africa, especially in the hip-hop genre. His latest album is also his reconnection with the continent and he is proud to be an African.He recently returned, after more than two years, from shooting a documentary film across the African continent with filmmaker Vincent Moloi.This experience also colours the new album."The film documents a 'reconnecting' of South Africa with the rest of the continent, and my own reconnection with my childhood."He recently recorded a mix-tape for The Singleton of Dufftown and Tailfire, releasing a song a day over two weeks from May 18. He is currently one of the judges alongside AKA and Khuli Chana in Mzansi's newest hip-hop show, Vuzu AMP's hot talent searchThe Hustle.Fans can expect a national tour once the album hits stores in July.

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