Arpeggiated guitar chords so clean they must’ve emerged from a scented bath in holy waters. Reverbed jazz keyboards that tinkle, tinkle, tinkle and finally disappear into thick cappuccino bass swirls. Metaphors that mix less like vodka and milk and more like blue in green… my god it’s TASTEFUL! Has South African hip-hop forsaken blood sex sleaze trash nasty dirt grot push bump gutta grind ooh I like it POP JOY to find itself in another ghetto (albeit one with gold-trim and working toilets)? In attempts to distance itself from the middle-body-happy hip-house hedonism of kwaito has it adopted jizzless jazz ‘culturally progressive’ “aesthetics? Or am I buying the wrong records?

‘Expressions’ is a SA hip-hop compilation. I’d heard two tracks on the radio, both of which I liked, and bought it on a semi-whim. When I’m in a better mood, I’ll talk about the record’s successes, right now they feel like happy accidents. So I’ll tell you about this track by Originz, it sounds like 7 other songs on the CD anyway (unsuprisingly, almost every track on the disc shares a producer in Tongogara — think Hi Tek mixed with… actually, just think Hi Tek). So it’s jazzy (moreso in remixed form than slightly bouncier version I remember hearing on the radio), flow’s slow, enunciated, Rakim-ish, some breathy r&b melisma round the edges. ‘Family of One’ is a morality tale, a melodramatic one, almost to the point of unintended hilarity in places. In summation: Mom and Dad made it through the struggle, but the kids succumbed to hypersexualized, hypermediated society. Brother runs guns in Cape Town, Sis 1 is an upmarket booty4bling Ho and the other’s a ‘kwaito fanatic’. No coincidence that it’s made to rhyme with ‘crack addict’.

About two years ago I was trying to relate my frustrations with my local music kwaito to Mr. Ewing. I thought the genre was stuck on the sonics of a ’92 YEAH!’ bargain-bin dance-mag cover CD house compilation (tellingly I wasn’t really listening to much kwaito OR house then). Tom couldn’t understand the problem. And now? A synth! A synth! My Keith Jarrett records for a synth!

Most probably I doth protest too much, some purchase-distance and repeated listening’ll hopefully lessen my desire to read the song, the record, as this monolithic mission statement. Still, at the risk of sounding pat, a little Ludacris goes a long way.