Discrimination: From Racial to ‘Melodic’

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Jeremiah Ndjoze Capturing and reflecting on that classic, old school soul quality from the likes of Smokie Robinson and more recently Lynden David Hall, African Boy brings back that unforgettable 1980s and mid-90s vibe while Big Ben delivers a portfolio of original soul with dynamic and very honest lyrics. With the sweet sensuality of Gladys Knight, the modern, urban touch of Mary J. Blige and the silky tones of well, her own, Ndeshi packages the ageless harmonies of R&B soul with an approach that both taps into the last three decades of soul and reaches forward with a top 40 mainstream appeal. Gal Level on the other hand delivers a hip yet groovy Afro flavoured sound that takes you from your drop top cruise to your bedroom mood and as for Tequila – well she does what Tequila does to humans. Good soul touching stuff to take me and Jane on a wet faced reminiscent trip right after a little salivary exchange while waiting for the one thing that will give our cloths wings to fly however, that thing is yet to come and it’s almost 4 am. The Clarence Carter won’t do it because Jane Doe is a bit too young to comprehend the poetry; the thing we’re looking for is the Barry White. The real talk that will get us to walk the real walk, that’s what we don’t get from our local crooners. Whatever happened to the original doo-wop sound accompanied by that juicy bump n’ grind? No, let me tell you. It disappeared because we came to the realization that the only thing better than great Rhythm and blues is localized Rhythm and Blues and according to the National Broad-caster’s Chat show diehards, localized Soul stuff should strike a positive balance between the roses and the church. That’s why the Matongo Family’s best cut to date is denied airplay. But lest we forget, we all grew up in that so-called good old world, to the sounds of Mr Carter playing loud in our houses while we were sent out to play. I first heard the song sexual healing from a friend whose father played it all night before making a disappearing act and a few months later her half brother was born and his name was Marvin. So what is this? Why should we sit here with me digging very deep into my smooth operating bag for tactics if I can use my spokesperson to charm Jane out of her shoes? Well, it’s because our artists can’t do the Barry White, because their Barry White won’t get the airplay, says the station manager. But wait a minute isn’t that Barry White playing in the manager’s car? Strange but very true these songs right here make the National Broadcaster’s afternoon play list on a regular basis. Scrutinize these titles carefully, the less said about the lyrics the better: R. Kelly – Sex in the Kitchen; Usher – Nice and Slow; Tupac – Temptations; Marvin Gaye – Canny Licker. Now you tell me what the difference is. Does it sound worse in the vernacular languages, is that it? Is it only explicit if it’s simplified? We need to call DA (Discrimination Anonymous) to the rescue here because Namibians are addicted to prejudice. First it was racial, now it’s musical and it sucks. Look guys when I buy an R&B/Soul record I want to get a full house and that includes entertaining Jane Doe with ease, so let’s throw the local heartbeat grooves over some layers of vivid, lush but tight harmonies, coloured with that local sensual talk. Move the term “local” very far from my bedroom anthem and give me that sophisticated harmonic palette of jazz or the smooth, full-bodied ripple of soul or better yet, that classic R&B delivery that goes down so easily that it tickles Jane’s fancy. Word to the manager: Play them all or ban them all.