Tsholofelo was a great balance of various South African music elements as he fused kwaito, pop, house and hip-hop to create a good cohesive direction. His versatility shone along with his ear for production and skill set. In addition to the quality, Cassper managed to go platinum and had strong acclaim due to songs like "Phumakin", "Doc Shebeleza" and "Gusheshe". In contrast, his sophomore album, Refiloe was somewhat a disappointment. It lacked the same originality that was shown on Tsholofelo as it was heavily influenced by American Hip-Hop elements. Additionally, Cassper's lyricism wandered, his storytelling lacked his usual authenticity and the beat selection was inconsistent. Although, it still achieved mainstream success by going platinum - it was a signal of his shift in focus and how success influenced him as most of his lines referred to his wealth.
During his album roll-out, Cassper did not sway away from that vein as he continued to voice his wealth on various guest verses. His only single prior, Tito Mboweni, followed that path and had various mentions of "Rollies" and "Bentleys" but it served it's purpose as a radio and club hit. Due to the roll out and guest verses, I believed the album would lack originality but admittedly, I was wrong. Thuto is truly Cassper's magnum opus to date. He raised questions when he tweeted that it was his "best work yet" but the music quality correlates.
Cassper's direction for the album was introspection. The introduction to the project sets the tone excellently. Cassper bares his soul throughout it while speaking out on serious issues in today's society. He speaks on his infidelities and mishaps with a somber cadence, ultimately enhancing the storytelling. In addition, the production quality matches his own tone as the early start of the album shows his musical growth. He manages to interpolate a classic South African anthem in "Destiny" as he illustrates his ear for production. "Superman" details the story of his father and evokes the similiar feeling as Kanye West on "Mama". It shows the type of honesty and vulnerability that many elite artists lack. The production of Superman uses the same techniques as Kanye & Jon Brion on the track. However, Cassper takes a different approach by including his father's favorite gospel singer, Tshepo Tshola. The legendary singer stimulates a traditional South African feel that creates nostalgia. In essence, vivid storytelling is Cassper's forte and it sets him apart from his mainstream counterparts - it's what makes him elite within the African Hip-Hop scene.
As the album begins to become upbeat, Cassper seems to follow the realms of Meek Mill by simply trying to inspire others through his own success. His story from rags to riches is indeed inspiring and it sets the tone for a hilarious skit that involves his stylist, Didi Monsta. His introspection comes with such authenticity that it allows the listener to actually understand why he repetitively mentions Rollies and Bentleys before. Towards the end of the album, he begins to show his artistry and his skill set. He goes toe to toe with legendary rapper (and someone in my top 10 rappers of all time), Black Thought and they provide a lyrical onslaught. Cassper's wordplay is incredible, his flow is equally apt and his cadence matches the tone of the song completely. Black Thought also imposes the same energy and shows his lyrical ability and internal rhyme scheme. The following track, "Push Through The Pain" lacks the same energy and simply sounds like an "album filler". However, he makes up for it by introducing a North African sound interpolated with a Kwaito drum-line. It serves as an autotune influenced love song that connects with the modern African music scene. The final song of the album, Amen Hallelujah, is triumphant. It interpolates a gospel elements and modernizes it to create an enjoyable song which gives thanks for his blessings in life
Thuto is an excellent return to form for an artist who simply lost his hunger along the way. It is an album that highlights Cassper's lyricism, his graphic storytelling and his general musicaity. As an artist, it sets him apart from any African musician as he manages to illustrate his versatility by mixing gospel, pop, kwaito, R&B, soul and Hip-Hop elements to create an amazing concept album about his struggles, success, family, love life and friends.
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Final rating: Indoor