The Lowdown: 2020 has been a busy year for South African rapper, producer, and songwriter Nsikayesizwe David Junior Ngcobo, better known as Nasty C. After signing a joint venture deal with Def Jam Records in March, Ngcobo released the visual EP Lost Files as well as a collaborative mixtape with DJ Whoo Kid entitled Zulu. Nasty C has been extremely popular in the African music scene for some time and now finds his star rising during these recent months in the United States. With his third studio album, Nasty C hopes to elevate his status abroad as a lyricist and record producer and expand his global fan base. On Zulu Man with Some Power, Ngcobo elaborates on his growth as a man and all the experiences that have come with his newly acquired celebrity.
The Good: Zulu Man with Some Power is a testament to Nasty C’s versatility as an artist. Showcasing his ability as a record producer, a rapper, and even a singer (on tracks such as “Black and White” and “Deep Pockets”), he’s able to explore several different avenues of expression on this project. Earlier this week, Ngcobo spoke to GQ Africa about his excitement about the release of his new album. “Being able to be so free as a creative and really experiment; and just going into the studio with a blank mind, black page and coming out with a project that I’m proud of is really important to me.”
And he has plenty to be proud of here. The production quality on this album is second to none. “Steve Biko”, “How Many Times”, and lead single “There They Go” are all catchy, bass-heavy cuts catering to the sound and feel of today’s popular streaming services. The record features several worthwhile features, including Ari Lennox, Rowlene, Lil’ Gotit, and Lil’ Keed and highlights Nasty C’s ability as a rapper throughout. The production on “Eazy” and “Bookoo Bucks” allows C to experiment with different rhyme schemes and clever metaphors — with bars such as “I can’t be caught with no low stakes/ When my name in their mouth like it’s Colgate.”
Conceptually, Ngcobo finds himself going into interesting territory on Zulu Man with Some Power. On “Ababulali”, he pays tribute to his father and acknowledges how much of a task it was raising him. With lyrics such as “When I was younger, my screws and wires were tangled/ When I was difficult and hard to understand, you/ Never gave up, you played your role and so I thank you,” Nasty C paints the picture of how deep the emotion runs for the parent who shares his same name. On the album’s final track, “They Don’t”, which features T.I., both artists touch upon the perception of people of color, as well as an ode to all the lives lost in recent years that paved the way for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Bad: Although this album demonstrates Nasty C’s many talents as a creator, it can get redundant at times. On songs like “How Many Times”, “Steve Biko”, “All In”, and “Palm Trees”, Ngcobo tends to revert back to the same concept of becoming successful with minimal support. The redundant usage of this topic can grow tiresome, and it also makes the lengthy project’s 20-song tracklist seem longer than it already is.
On the album’s title track, “Zulu Man”, Nasty C pays homage to his heritage by rapping an entire verse in isiZulu. Audibly, the song is pretty solid, but his lyrics do not have the same impact with listeners outside of South Africa. The effort is admirable, but what is lacking in this instance is the execution — especially if trying to reach audiences across the globe.
The Verdict: Nasty C’s Zulu Man with Some Power is a good listen for anyone searching for music that is perfect to ride or dance to. Although not always substance-heavy, this album still contains some beautiful songs about love and equality, along with some introspective tracks that are noteworthy. Since 2016, the music industry has seen Nasty C’s evolution from a talented South African musician to a global personality. As his star continues to rise, one should hope that Nasty C does not become stagnant in his creativity due to his success.
Essential Tracks: “Overpriced Steak”, “Feeling”, and “They Don’t”
Pick up a copy of Nasty C’s Zulu Man with Some Power here.