Max-Hoba's new album hopes to propel African identity to the world
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“It is geared towards a global audience and is easy on the ear. We have songs that are catchy and singalong types of songs. I speak a lot more to our conscience, it’s about us propelling the African identity to the world,” said the award-winning musician, who has spent the last two years bringing the work to fruition.
The album idea came from the body of work he performed at the now closed down live jazz spot, The Orbit.
“The music that I created for ‘Masithethe - Conversations in Music’ was music I was workshopping to see if it would make sense for the album, it was like research of sorts with the audience. Most of the material of that show was music that had never been performed or recorded before. So based on that response, I started pre-production on that album.”
As his journey started later in 2018, he conceptualised the music while working with producer David Fellgeirolles in Paris.
“I wanted someone who would understand the tone of my voice and go with me where I wanted to go, musically and spiritually. This thing had a lot to do with spiritual well-being.
We worked with some African musicians, who were based in Paris, to add some instruments. I came back home in February 2019 and started recording.”
He was between Joburg and Paris for three months working on the album. It was during this time that he met with the Paradise Sound System team, at a conference in Accra, Ghana. The German-based distribution company, that links African musos to Europe, partnered with him to release an album under their label.
“For the longest time I wanted to do music that was a lot more on the genre that is now called World Music. If you listen, I do more of the African chants. I featured the likes of Benin-born kora player and vocalist Djeli Moussa Diawara; and Felix Sabal-Lecco, a great drummer who played with Paul Simon and Stimela, who is from Cameroon and based in Paris. I ticked a bucket list moment with Bra Freddie Gwala, who I had to hunt down.”
Max-Hoba was intentional with the instrumentalists he worked with. The guitarist on the song KwaMakhelwane, which is currently receiving airplay on a number of radio stations, is Angelique Kidjo’s guitarist, Togolese musician Amen Viana.
“It was great to find that all the people could relate to the music and not the language, from just hearing the song. They could make their own inputs and that’s what I wanted to achieve. It was for the first time that I recorded music I felt would last way longer than I anticipated. It would be music that will speak to the souls of those who are listening.”
KwaMakhelwane is about not giving up, even when times are tough. Max-Hoba collaborated with two Lesotho artists, Kommanda Obbs and Morusu Hlalele, on Mahlomola and Ujabulani.
He also gives music lovers a taste of Shona with Ndiye Oga, a song that praises God.
“I feature Swazi artist Bholoja and George Munetsi who many people know from KayaFM. On another Shona song ‘Chokwadi’, I feature Tino Damba, a renowned drummer. The song, which means ‘the truth’, is in essence about never judging a book by its cover.”
Max-Hoba said artists often question their own work and go through different emotions about it but, with this project, he is happy with the final product.
“I am especially happy with the energy of the people involved. I got to work with my band again - The Chorus - and you feel their presence throughout the album. I love the maturity of the sound that was produced this time around.”
The album will be available on all digital platforms from tomorrow, with an online launch to be announced soon.