Interview: “Dialogue” by Ol ‘Burger Beats & Vuyo. is a jazz-infused conversation



An album in preparation for three years, Dialogue. is the result of a collaboration between the Norwegian producer Old Burger Beats and Norwegian-South African rapper Vuyo. The project consists of relaxed rhythms infused with jazz and conversational, unhurried rhymes, in keeping with the dialogue concept of the release.

Released on German label Jakarta Records, the album sees Vuyo sharing his experiences and observations, sometimes through a diasporic lens, while the sounds of Ol ‘Burger Beats feature elements of jazz, soul, as well as touches. of lo-fi and the boom of the 90s. bap.

Born in Zimbabwe to a father active in the fight against apartheid and a mother active in the struggle for the independence of Namibia, Vuyo grew up between South Africa, Zambia and Norway where he s ‘moved with his mother as a teenager. Thanks to his father, he was exposed to artists like Fela Kuti, Hugh Masekela and other Afro-jazz artists. that would be to hear Jay Zfrom “Mum loves me” from The plan it would spark his love for hip-hop, with Vuyo relating to Jay-Z’s story of being raised by a single mom.

While he started experimenting with hip-hop at home, it was a visit to Namibia where he recorded with the rapper Marc Mushiva, a third of the hip-hop group Black vulcanite, that would push him to go further. The result was the release of his self-produced EP in 2018. Home-cooked meals.

Ol ‘Burger Beats, meanwhile, is the child of music teachers. He learned the piano at the age of four. He will develop a passion for jazz thanks to his father and will later discover hip-hop through artists such as Outkast who led him to start producing rhythms on his computer and, later, to study music technology. . It was then that he was able to share his music with others for the first time. Passionate record collector, the producer’s first release dates from 2014 Upper Rhodes which led to comparisons with his heroes such as J Dilla, Madlib and Pierre Roche.

Become a duo

After reuniting at the 2018 Vill Vill Vest Festival in Bergen, Norway, having met at a party a year before, the two decided to work together, resulting in their return to the festival on the the following year in duet with new material and their signing in Jakarta. 2020 would see the release of the duo All yours, an EP intended to teaser the album. The EP was made up of songs that didn’t fit into the album in terms of sound.

Read: How to rap about Africa: remember when Binyavanga’s iconic essay was turned into a scathing rap song by Black Vulcanite

In order to create the relaxed yet lively sound atmosphere of the album, Ol ‘Burger Beats dug deep into their record collection, sampling 1970s jazz records, adding their own layers and focusing on specific frequencies. “I’m interested in things that are happening in the higher frequencies. You hear all the percussion and textures of the samples, everything happening in the high frequencies, which are the frequencies that a lot of hip-hop producers overlook. They just turn them down and focus on the bass and snare. I think that has a lot to do with my interest in jazz, the way I like the sound of my percussion, ”says Ol ‘Burger Beats. Everything is rooted in one sample per song. Then I play keys, drums and bass on top of that. ”While some tracks on the album like“ Timeless ”are from 2015, others like“ Athens ”were made in 2020 and report the direction Ol ‘Burger Beats wants to take in terms of sound.

Photo by Lisana Preteni.

Vuyo drew most of his inspiration for the songs on the album from his conversations with Ol ‘Burger Beats in what he describes as “that magical hour before writing and recording.” “I felt like it was the two of us talking,” he said. He took this conversational theme a step further, introducing it into his rhyming style. “The way I wrote the raps, it’s more in the form of speeches. He has that feeling of dialogue.”

Her lyrics are inspired by her love for popular culture and refer to the likes of her favorite TV show with lines like,If I could watch Seinfeld all day, I’d call crazy Joe Devola to tell anyone he’s better than him. on “Athens” to legendary football players and his personal ties to the South African liberation with the lines, “Amandla! Awethu! / I’ve always been a team player like Bebeto” on “Not for sale” and “Life around the equator they say God is great but I met one who is taller / The way kickflips are an ode to my skateboarder / and this Charleston has roots with my Hugh Masekelas” on “Brothers”.

Dialogue led to Dialogue.

This concept of dialogue was cemented during the sequencing stage of the album and was linked by a message that Vuyo’s sister, the artist Lunga Ntila, had with their father in whom he finally accepted that they were artists, something with which he had struggled to come to terms. “The concept came to us just halfway through putting the album together. The dialogue with Lunga and my dad, which came at the last minute, after the album was mastered. It fit right in and summed up the whole album. After hearing that, I suggested the name, ”Vuyo recalls.

Ol ‘Burger Beats & Vuyo – Schengen Visa [Official Music Video]

Perhaps because of his father’s political activism, Vuyo’s own view of politics is layered and subtle, hidden between meanings and behind double meanings. This is evident on tracks such as “Summer of George” which juxtaposes George Floyd with George Costanza of Seinfeld and critiques “fake, commercial wokeness”. “Just to be able to balance the humor and the tragedy, I really like that take on it,” Vuyo said. He also shares his personal experiences such as on “Shengen Visa” where he describes the hassles of trying to be successful as an immigrant, and on “Vent” which sees him doing just that on modern issues such as fixing Instagram, global warming and the lack of truth in a world saturated with fake news. “I think that’s part of the duality. I think it shows all the different spheres of me as well. It can be deeply political or as basic as watching Seinfeld. I’m just inspired by life, ”says Vuyo.

Subtle politics

Of the songs on the album, the most directly political is “Conflict” which openly addresses systemic racism and the immigrant experience with phrases such as “the conversation we should be having is about integration, not deportation”, something that Vuyo generally tries to stay away from. “It’s so in your face. I call it moralistic sometimes. I like it when it’s more nuanced, layered, that maybe only I can understand,” Vuyo says of the song and his approach to it. politics in his words. This subtle approach to politics is also reflected in the sound of the album, with Ol ‘Burger Beats selecting samples of 1970s jazz steeped in black liberation and freedom found on the releases of labels such as Strata-East Records, Black Jazz Records, Impulse! Records, Nimbus Records and Tribe Records.

Other than longtime friend Mark Mushiva and DJ Chali, the album didn’t include any other features, which was a conscious decision. “I always tend to like features that are authentic and organic more than just sending someone a beat. It was also a lot of fun having Mark, one of my favorite rappers, doing a track of Oral creation. It’s fun to be able to play this album from start to finish, just me and Ol ‘Burger Beats, without having to bring anyone in or people being upset that this guy didn’t show up, we can interpret it as a working set, ”Vuyo said.

Photo by Lisana Preteni.

Having already played a small show in Johannesburg and collaborated with Spoek Mathambo on his 2020 album “Tales from the Lost Cities”, Vuyo is looking forward to coming to South Africa for a real tour with Ol ‘Burger Beats and maybe doing some collaborations. . “I would like to collaborate more with Martian Daev, Bouli, Muzi and Shane eagle. My sister keeps showing me South African artists, and seeing them is so crazy, ”he says. While there is no set plan for a follow-up album, both are sure there will be more to come in due course. “I was listening for samples and found two tracks that I would really like to hear Vuyo on. So hopefully there will be another one to come, but it’s going to take a while I think, ”says Ol ‘Burger Beats.

Flux Dialogue. by Ol ‘Burger Beats & Vuyo on Apple Music and Spotify. Buy the album on Bandcamp.

Follow Vuyo on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Follow Ol ‘Burger Beats on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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