There's one way to tell pretenders from a king / for argument's sake let's
say God ends this whole thing.
And miraculously two survive / who will you entrust with the story of your
people, choose a side.
Over the course of three albums in just over ten years as a solo artist,
(and a few more in his era-defining stint leading the band the Volume), one
unofficial but universally elected voice for young post-apartheid South
Africans has been Tumi's. With no more than an open letter posted on
Facebook earlier to accompany the unexpected released of a new album
'Return of The King', the Hip-hop monarch tests the faith of an audience he has grown with, one which has trusted him to speak for and about them globally all these years. "I want people to purchase my album because they buy my story and believe my music, and I didn't want a loud tasteless campaign interfering with that." Says Tumi.
Using this same believability the Tanzania-born artist has made countless
music connections across musical worlds: He performed at New York's famed
Apollo Theatre, took a month-long tour of Europe with French
hip-hop/electronica outfit Chinese Man, and spanned Africa filming a
documentary tracing back to his exiled childhood and re-visiting those
musical relationships he has cultivated over his career.
It's become a kind of hallmark with Tumi to choose a landmark date like June
16th, South Africa's Youth Day, to present a new body of work. That's how
committed he is to remaining relevant in an arena where the best of them
compete for ever-diminishing attentions. The theme of excellence is front
and centre on Return Of The King from which previous critically acclaimed
singles have emerged - namely, 'Hello Kitty' in 2013, and late 2014's 'In Defence of My Art' featuring Ziyon and Reason, now remembered for its divisive video's audacious stance on misogyny.
The rest of the cast expertly balances South African household pop names and
international heavy weights: Busiswa, Simphiwe Dana, Kelly Khumalo, Saul
Williams, Commander Obbs add to the album's distinguished texture. "All of
us huddled together to help me create Return Of The King. I named it that
because I am a leader in my genre and I have spent over 15 years pursuing
great. It gives me great pleasure to announce on this day, the 16th of June
the release of my album. Enjoy. My name is Tumi and I am a King." Says Tumi.
Get the album HERE
Read Tumi's Open Letter 'We Were Almost Great' HERE