With this outing, Spoek Mathambo furthers his campaign to lead South Africa’s burgeoning rap scene to a wider global audience. Father Creeper is a sonic mosaic that draws on rap, African pop, rock, post-punk, and electro-everything sensibilities to create a collection of bass-heavy bangers that also offer a wealth of lyrical insights.
The album incorporates live-band elements with futuristic synth textures that give the listener the feeling they are straddling two very different worlds. In the same way that Shabazz Palaces explored uncharted waters in hip-hop by weaving together electronic and acoustic elements, Spoek Mathambo helps to widen the boundaries of the rap genre. “Dog to Bone” is a prime example of this tendency; the song begins with a highlife-style guitar riff, transitioning into a rock-heavy distorted passage, and then some floor-shaking electro-rap for good measure. All of this is done without sounding like someone accidentally sat on the remote control.
Lyrically, Mathambo (with the help of his sometimes-co-writer and full-time wife, who goes by ‘Gnucci Banana’), touches on everything from conflict diamonds (“Put Some Red on It”) to the hopelessness and drudgery of working life (“We Can Work”). Despite the album’s pervading gloom, both musically and lyrically, it is balanced by its occasional moments of much-needed respite. “Skorokoro (Walking Away)” is one such moment, offering a boy-meets-girl story over a fittingly innocent beat. No, the story doesn’t have a fairy tale ending, but on Father Creeper, this will have to pass for cheery.
The album is certainly worth a spin for any music enthusiast who wants to further expand their already-eclectic listening tastes. After all, this may be the closest glimpse we get into the future of Afro-futurism.