PHELI MAKAVELI: The Timeless Soundtrack of Atteridgeville

Albums such as To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, Thriller by Michael Jackson and Graduation by Kanye West have often been cited as timeless and classic by people of all generations, across decades, genres and musical trends because of the projects’ ability to stay with listeners years after their release.

In an age where we consume, critique and move on from music before anticipating another release, it is very rare to see a body of work become part of a listener’s daily routine because it is kept on repeat in their library. This could be because of the high number of music releases right now or lack of replay value in albums.

Replay value refers to the quality of being suitable for or worth playing more than once; an album without any skips. Essentially, a sound you cannot get out of your head because of the connection you have made to it.

25K’s debut album ‘Pheli Makaveli’ is well on path to joining the list of timeless projects due to the quality of its storytelling, production, collaborations and immaculate rollout and this is why it has a high replay value.

Pheli Makaveli, shares the story of the Atteridgeville born rapper on the come up and his life journey before music. The project was highly anticipated after the success of his single Culture Vulture.

The intro of the project Pheli Makaveli is a captivating and melodic 808 beats, a true anthem that sets the theme and setting of the project. The album paints a picture of South Africa’s political situation and explores the streets of Atteridgeville, feelings of being politically and socially excluded by the politicians in Atteridgeville, and turning to unlawful actives as a means of survival. Blarofornia includes a sample of California Love by 2pac & Dr. Dre, a line on the song that goes like “Yo fela ka stopo heosae call truce” which can be interpreted as a defining moment of the gang violence in the area. This project beautifully reflects the influence West coast hip hop and its pioneers such as Dr Dre., Tupac, and Snoop Dogg has had on 25K. This also puts emphasis on the rapper’s ability to carry out sensitive social topics and turn them into street anthems. 25K’s lyricism and storytelling takes the listeners through a journey of the hardships that are experienced in Atteridgeville. The language and vocabulary in the album left listeners stunned and inquisitive, which led to the rapper eventually releasing a video on YouTube called Pheli Makaveli (dictionary) explaining the slang and dialect which also formed part of an exceptional rollout.

A good album rollout has a huge impact on the success of a project; it is the one true marketing tool to establishing interest onto your fandom and potentials. The project had an immaculate rollout which began on the 21st of October 2020 by the release of a snippet video of his first single Pheli Makaveli(intro) which has a very enticing line; “your favourite new age rapper probably follows just to study my lingo”. The video was accompanied by a caption that grasped my attention which said, “The wait is almost over, fear is your only option”. The 3 singles from the project were accompanied by visuals for each (Trap Jumpin’, Hustlers Prayer and Pheli Makaveli), 2 of the 3 exceeded the 1 million views mark. This album was also accompanied by a documentary which takes viewers through his upbring in Atteridgeville, his musical journey and the process of making this project.

The curation and production by acclaimed producer Zooci Coke Dope was nothing but the cherry on top of an exceptional body of work due to creativity behind the choice of samples and inclusion of TV interviews about heightening gangsterism and crime.

This was just one of the collaborations within the project that attributed to its success. A good collaboration can go a long way for a successful project, associating with artists who compliment your artistry helps an artist grow their fanbase. 25K collaborated with artists such as A-Reece, FLVME, Emtee and Maglera Doe Boy. Hustler’s Prayer with A-Reece became an instant hit and fan favorite.

A project’s success is measured by whether it is a good listen, well-arranged and engineered project. Pheli Makaveli contains all these elements and more. This is why it is still heavy on rotation in my library although it has been over a year since its release.