We wanted to make sounds that would heal people – Blaq Diamond
The result of that dedication is a sophomore offering filled with gripping storytelling and alluring melodies. After a strong first impression, Umuthi is a follow-up album more about solidifying and evolving their sound. “The title of the album basically means the medication,” they share. “We wanted to make sounds that would heal people… that would take people back to their roots but at the same time not move too far away from popular culture.”
With influences as varied as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Shwi noMtekhala and Zola striking a balance was key to Umuthi’s construction. “Sonically, we were trying to take our sound to the next level – making it more pop but still authentic,” they say. That goal is reflected in the feature list with Igcokama Elisha, Cici, Thee Legacy and Sjava each contributing to Umuthi. “With Sjava it happened organically. He came through to the studio after a show and we did “Memeza”. Later we also had Jabulani – Thee Legacy’s lead singer – in studio and he came up with the “Sbhekane” idea. We laid down the vocals and basically freestyled on top of the ‘hampe hampe’ rhythm.” While that song is owed to happenstance, the conceptual “Love Letter” displays the depth of Blaq Diamond’s storytelling abilities.
“Love Letter was an old joint we wrote before we recorded “Ibhanoyi”. It’s a song about being in prison, away from your lover and trying to reach out to her. Making the video was crazy – it’s like a short film. It took us a week and the experience was really dope with the amount of work you have to put in and us acting and stuff.” With such vivid storytelling on “Love Letter” and their use of uniquely African melodies, Blaq Diamond are at the forefront of South Africa’s new wave of culturally-infused music. What matters more to the duo than the preciousness of their artistry is maintaining their bond throughout their musical journey. “Before we even started making music, we were friends. More than anything we have a brotherly relationship – that’s what we’re about.”