Black Coffee - Subconsciously Music Album Reviews

Black Coffee - Subconsciously Music Album Reviews
The veteran South African DJ and producer broadens his sound and his global reach, but his own smooth, moody grooves are more reliably rewarding than his highest-profile collaborations.

Black Coffee’s music rarely calls for stillness. The narratives pieced together across his discography concern movement, like the journeys of transient workers on 2005 standout “Stimela,” an intoxicating rendition of the Hugh Masekela joint. Black Coffee’s work also touches on another form of movement: The inheritance of sounds and melodies, of generational experiences bridged by familiar notes. In the DJ and singer-songwriter’s hometown of Durban, South Africa, people are constantly on the move, hustling from one job to another, packed in omnibuses. But as COVID-19 continues to surge, any type of motion, physical or mental, has been drastically altered. Black Coffee’s latest release, Subconsciously, is aware of the challenges of stillness. Its heavy, syncopated house beats channel the barely restrained frustration of staying put when all you want to do is move: towards your lover, towards a different version of yourself, towards anywhere but your present.
To trace these inevitable fractures, Black Coffee calls on artists who don’t readily evoke solace, yet settle confidently into their role as the voices in our heads. Jozzy, who co-wrote the remix to the monster hit “Old Town Road,” is an unexpected, haltingly earnest presence on the Pharrell-featuring “10 Missed Calls,” a take on a late-night voicemail. Her pleas for intimacy and clarity swing from desperation to assertiveness, never truly aligning with either: “Did you, did you know/That I tried my best just to let it roll, it roll?/I had 10 missed calls/And not one from you.” There’s nothing quite like feeling alone in a relationship, and Black Coffee treads a thin line between frustration and fits of ecstasy, peaking with Jozzy’s anxious cries. Echoes of Thandiswa Mazwai’s “Kwanele,” remixed on Coffee’s 2005 self-titled debut, are evident: an unfulfilled partner who wants to leave but can’t bear to lose the time invested.

Black Coffee’s 2017 rendezvous with Drake on the More Life single “Get It Together” seems to have rubbed off on “Flava,” which could easily fit into the perpetually lovelorn rapper’s playlist. Tellaman, a singer-songwriter who also hails from Durban, and Una Rams, from the Limpopo region, croon about a woman who’s been mistreated and now feels incapable of accepting a deserving suitor. It’s a basic enough concept that doesn’t quite work coming from an artist who, four tracks earlier, called on Sabrina Claudio to meld her heartbroken lyrics with a reminder that “she’ll love when she’s ready.”

In the past decade, as international pop stars have pivoted to African beats and rhythms in search of inspiration with a global reach, Black Coffee has found a heightened level of visibility. He has shared the stage with Usher (who’s featured on “LaLaLa”) and performed at Coachella in 2016 and 2018. Moving from regional to mainstream fame brings a familiar challenge: balancing the skills that brought you acclaim with those that will put you on the charts. Rarely do these two work in tandem, and Subconsciously falters when it tries to provide what it thinks the people want. “Never Gonna Forget,” with Diplo and an assist from English artist Elderbrook, is empty and monotonous instead of intentionally sparse. And while on-and-off R&B star Cassie delivers some of her better rhymes and tones on the groovy “Time,” Black Coffee is hardly noticeable on a song that’s keenly aware of its narrator’s vocal limitations, and so dutifully plays to her strengths.

A better example of the emotion Black Coffee can invoke with a capable storyteller is his 2018 single “Ilala,” featuring Mondli Ngcobo. Subconsciously gives a similar sense of symbiosis on “Ready for You,” with English soul singer and songwriter Celeste. Black Coffee gives her room to lead the story, allowing her warm, rounded tone to thread between his kwaito-influenced Afropop and jazz studies. Having released six studio albums and several genre-blending mixes, Black Coffee has built a formidable map of the musical geography of the place he calls home. Subconsciously isn’t the type of album that offers bangers through and through, but the standout tracks are compelling enough to stay the course.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Black Coffee - Subconsciously Music Album Reviews Black Coffee - Subconsciously Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 17, 2021 Rating: 5


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