Obed Ngobeni

My Wife Bought a Taxi

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This is a bit of jive music from the relatively overlooked Shangaan people. Obed Ngobeni is one of a handful of contemporary Shangaan jive artists competing against the large scale success of the Zulu jive scene, and here presents his take on the genre. Ngobeni makes use of an updated form of jive, filled to the brim with synthesizers, for use in harmony and ambience, as well as being the lead melodic instrument. There is a drum set, guitar, and bass along with the synths, but they play only small roles, holding the rhythm together in a melody-driven setting. Instrumentally, the sound often comes close to a relaxed form of soukous, but is also at times reminiscent of African forms of reggae. The treat here is the vocal call and response between Ngobeni and his counterpart the Kurhula Sisters. It's a little jumpier than most forms of vocal from the area, and benefits some from its uniqueness. Song topics are more forward than the bulk of African lyrical content, celebrating women's rights and the joys of modernity. For an aspect of South African music usually ignored, this album does a decent job of presentation. There is more exciting music to be heard, certainly, but fans of the Zulu spectrum would do well to hear this neighboring form once.

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