Baboon Forest Entertainment (label)
11 November 2020 (released)
16 December 2020
One of the great ironies and tragedies of our Western culture is the overlooking and even worse disrespecting of our shared African heritage. Go back far enough and the continent is the homeland for all of us yet we maintain this chronic societal disconnect. Perhaps it all stems from a lingering shame over the atrocities and injustices we have done. The answer isn't to recoil but to reach out and embrace. In music, the pounding of drums and wailing of woes that began in Africa gave us a universal language. We should be ever grateful for our roots.
Ugandan Afropunk hip hop artist GNL Zamba (a.k.a. The King of lugaflow, the Father of Ugandan hip hop) is using his immense talent to educate and reunite, bringing together people all over the world to experience and embrace a sound born of our common ancestors. His latest record The Spear is a monumental record ranging from rowdy fuzzed big beats to chill positive vibe dub grooves. The roots of rock, metal, reggae, hip hop, punk, techno, r&b, all are represented here in a hyped-up collage. Of the album, the artist says: “Africa is the Future and I say the future is ancient. This is Hip hop with an Afropunk sound. This is the soundtrack to a human revolution, coming back full circle after completing the first journey of physical evolution to now start the elevation to a spiritual one! My Spear album is like a conversation between Fela Kuti, Malcolm X, Tupac, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Marley, Mandela, Marcus Garvey, my grandmother, an ancient moor and Mansa Musa”.
He wastes no time in paying tribute to his motherland with the opener 'Africa'. Driving drums and electronic quirks combine to find a Chemical Brothers-like sonic space while the thin fuzzy guitars and rock-steady delivery will remind North Americans of a B.O.B. era Outkast. Throaty in your face bass drives the whole thing home. GNL drifts seamlessly between English and his native tongue. He gives love to all the pharaohs and beautiful women before giving the world a lesson “Africa is not a country!!!” before dutifully shouting out every country on the continent. An inspirational speech closes it out over the rumble of metal-style toms.
From there he stretches out with supreme confidence. 'Black Ceasar' pumps on a fervent throbbing beat with sampled strings recalling Jay-Z's 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder' while he takes on a manic persona a la Busta Rhymes at his most 'Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check' frenetic. 'Black, Red, Yellow, Blue' and 'Energy (Nrg)' brush off the heavy bravado and find a calmer r&b swing. The title track finds more eclectic influence with the joyful singing of children interjecting organic life into the electronic beeps and boops of the bubbling beat. 'Wake the Fuck Up' is expectedly direct. Burly ribald synths and an unstoppable break score GNL's uncomplicated message. The album closes big with 'Zim Zim Bombo' bringing back the raucous fuzz-guitar/ballsy bass combo to get you on your feet one more time.
The Spear is an offer to the rest of the world to carry on the grand human tradition and have a renewed respect for its origin. GNL Zamba wields a wide variety of styles with mastery and finesse. Music fans of all stripes will be able to see themselves in this collection of Afrobeat fire.