Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Black Sherif – Kwaku the Traveller

On a journey to the sidebar…


Nortey Dowuona: I have heard this constantly at my work. I have run to the dancefloor every time. I have cleaned dollars off the floor and stuck them in my back pocket. I have heard this bass rumble over the thudding kicks and Lays strike snares and heard Black Sherif’s wide, sweet croon crack into a sharp, hard strike as he raps. I have loved it each time. The only thing that could make it better is a Vic Mensa verse.

Ian Mathers: “Who never fucked up, hands in the air? No hands” is a pretty great line, and even if nothing else jumps out quite as much it’s still a compelling performance over, yeah, the same kind of spacious, spacey production we’ve heard a ton of times before. But we’ve heard it before because it keeps working (especially if, like me, you love that skittering little percussion line). It almost feels too short, which is promising. 

Alfred Soto: What lyrics I can make out are exhortatory and/or punctuative, working like hot licks between and around the spacey beats. There’s a sense in which we unwittingly condescend to songs like “Kwaku the Traveller,” but more tracks should harvest these spaces so seductively. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: More effective inspiration-bait than most in this message lane, but it loses steam as it goes. By the time the melodramatic electric guitars overwhelm the mix you lose the sense of intensity and striving that Black Sherif so directly communicates in the first verse.

Scott Mildenhall: The constituent parts may not be reinvented wheels, but Black Sherif keeps them rolling with mighty star power. It’s one thing to talk of angst, but another to express it so viscerally.

Tobi Tella: As an afrobeats lover, I feel comfortable admitting that at least 70% of the genre has absolute nonsense lyrics. Something like “Kwaku the Traveller” stands out just by virtue of being coherent, but a lot of it feels convention-breaking. With the frank admission of fault and need for self-reflection rather than open flex #42323, plus the sick guitar implementation at the end, it feels purposeful rather than simply pleasant and catchy. Of course it’s been taken and almost beaten into the ground by TikTok, so the monkey’s paw curls once again…

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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