In Christian Hip Hop in Malawi (& Africa), KBG is a house hold name and probably the hardest working guy in the game. He is one of the people that have moved the culture forward and put Christian rap not just on the map but on the market. The Zaine EP is exactly that, important for the culture as well as a blueprint for young rappers in Malawi (& beyond) who want to stay true to their message but also impactful not just to Christian youth but young people as a whole. The quality of work that KBG and his team have released is unquestionable, the listening party featuring Zambia’s Brave Only music was executed with the usual excellence that his work is known for.
I had the opportunity to get an early listen to the EP for this review, here is my track by track review starting the opening track. The song starts with a greeting from Pompi sampled from his song ‘packaging’ appropriately the song is titled “Malonje”. The song features Uganda’s legendary Ruyonga and Jo-Z Jay from Zambia who was someone new to my ears, but this guy has bars. Listening to Jo-z Jay and Ruyonga I wasn’t sure if KBG’s raps would measure up, but boy was I wrong. This EP is where I have seen the lyrical side of KBG where he brings dope punch lines. This track gave me nostalgia, it took me back to the time when Christian rappers actually talked about Christ (these are not shots lol).
On Zaine, he features LiWu and S.A.M.U.E.L who are perhaps the strongest rappers in the Nyali Muzik fraternity, and once again KBG holds his own. The track speaks about how he minds his own business, which is God’s business, and how they are working hard for the king on and off the mic. The song is a weird mix between reggae and 3 different rap styles which doesn’t make the song cohesive and makes what could have been an awesome track underwhelming.
Dangerous features Marvel who is a veteran in this game, the sound is switched up to a similar reggae style that Zaine had. The track is about being people who belong to God and the importance of belonging to him. This was probably my least favourite track, probably because of personal preference.
On track 4 we go from reggae vibes to the new school sound which very similar to the sound that Ana Awa (Mastol & Mista Grey) are known for so it was very fitting to have them both together with Malcom on the song. It’s a very vibey song, also very nostalgic taking us back to when we were dreaming as kids. This song solidifies my earlier statement that KBG is important for the culture, the message in this song is essential. It talks about the importance of having dreams and not just dreaming for yourself but also for the good of the people God has surrounded you with. KBG doesn’t shy away in the name of false humility to talk about his achievements, being on radio, TV, and a Hip Hop artist all while still representing Jesus. Now isn’t that something inspirational, an encouragement that the young people need to hear, dream big but also work hard and fear God.
His only Solo track on the EP is a song based on the real life events in the Christian community and our world in general. Real issues that are happening, that I don’t think I have heard anyone else talk about. The song is based on the question “Ungata?” which means “what would you do?” What would you do if your Youth Pastor and your sister were having sex? Or if you found out your dad was cheating on your mom? Or if your bae told you to abort the pregnancy? Or if you and your girl were celibate only to find out she is HIV+ a week before marriage? What would you do? The track is very thought provoking and relevant, as a listener you have either gone through one of these situations or at least know someone who has. Where is the solution though?
The closing tracks feature Lawi, who is coming back into the music scene, both songs have a chilled acoustic vibe. On Nthawi ya mvula, we hear the Lawi we are used to and of course a socially cautious KBG addressing work ethic and hard work, and reaping what you sow. In a nutshell, he is saying let’s work hard, we only reap what we sow.
On the other hand, Zoononga Moyo is addressing the moral climate in our country. On this EP KBG is not shying away from talking about it more, and it’s about time as Christians started addressing them. I wish there was also a balance between the problems and the solutions, in one of the songs he says “Kodi nanga atawunikile ndi ndani makolo athuwa akugona tulo” (Who will shine the light if our parents/elders are asleep). We are the ones that will shine the light, I wish more light was shed on these particular issues.
Overall, the EP is a solid offering from KBG, he definitely did not disappoint and he stepped up his game as a rapper. If you ever doubted him as an MC this EP will erase those doubts, he brings in some solid bars. Sonically he has become more comfortable with his sound probably due to the experience since he has been in the game for a really long time. His delivery is smooth and mature, his music a good balance of the Christianity and social issues which is what happens when a Christian lives out their Christianity. Something noticeably missing on the EP is the presence of a female rapper or singer, I wish I could hear a female’s perspective on these important issues being addressed in this EP.
KBG has managed to brand himself both as a Christian rapper but also conscious at the same time, it will be interesting to see the places that God takes him. He is a good role model for young people, but he also points them to something more, I hope to see him on more stages where the audience doesn’t know the “more”. I hope more Christian rappers in Malawi and beyond will take notes on what it looks like to be a practical Christian without losing the “Christ”. I hope to see KBG continue to switch up the levels and break new boundaries with his brand and music.
Favorite Tracks: Grow Up, Ungata, Zoononga Moyo. Least favourite: Dangerous. Rating 4/5.
Let me know your thoughts on the EP by leaving a comment if you haven’t heard it yet it’s free for download here: bit.ly/2wj58Hz
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