If one were to perform open-heart surgery on the state of the nation, the first incision would unpack the discourse of the rainbow nation filled with blood, guns and revolutions. The cracks in the seams of a seemingly healed country would unravel itself in increments of history repeating itself, plagued by gender-based violence, corruption, white-collar, blue-collar, organised and low-level crimes and political protest that questions the tangibility of democracy.
In the same spectrum of our collective hurting and healing duality, we have created mantras such as fetch your life, we chant with the hymn 121’s and revel in the memorabilia of first loves that drive our hope that nangomso adversity will ease. Asanda Msaki Mvana has collected the tears, laughter, kisses, parental corporal punishment, triumphs, and traumas from every walk of South African life sown into a quintessential sonic journey with her double album Platinumb Heart Beating & Platinumb Heart Open.
Both albums serve as halves of one golden broken heart that has descended from the alchemy of holistic consciousness to the platinum, greyscale procession of the seven stages of grief. Platinumb Heart Open takes us through shock, denial, pain, guilt, anger, bargaining, and depression. “How Many Buffalo Bulls” and “Six Billion Thousand Hundred and Leventeen” interludes capture the appalling whispers that filter the day to day lives of the average South African who toils the poverty line while billions in state funds disappear and protest for fundamental human rights become a matter of life and death.
Carried by records like “Enough”, “At Stake”, “Tiram,” and interludes like “Mandiphefumle,” the overwhelming asphyxiation calls for more than a bit of breathing room; they require escapism, a pacemaker that bonds them a step away from trauma and into the glimmers of joy, dance, nostalgia and bedazzlement even if it’s short-lived. To fetch one’s life, live fully in the face of all that is wrong with the world requires an upbeat soundtrack: enter Platinumb Heart Beating.
Filled with the rhythms of electronic dance music that pays homage to classic and modern house music, we find Msaki sink into serial collaborations to create the upward turn, reconstruction and working through and acceptance and hope with an upbeat sonic diaspora. Despite the contrast between each albums creative direction, Msaki clinically maintains her signature Afro-Soul and Folk music that has earned her a loyal following.
From Black Coffee, Sun-El Musician, Black Motion, Nonku Phiri, Focalistic, Kabza De Small, Tresor, Kid X, Oskido, TRESOR, Caiiro, Da Capo, Diplo, Abidoza, Kenza, Mpho.wav, The Brother Moves On, Alie Keys, Bulelwa Silizwe Lusaseni, Thesis ZA, and Beatenburg, the co-creators of this masterpiece are cut from every cloth that can either reinforce or challenge the very essence of Msaki’s messaging in the music.
Over several days of repeated listening, I was whisked away into the two extremes of being South African. Our light-hearted, comedic, romantic, and never say die faithfulness, prayers, psalms, chants, affirmations that pep in our step while being reminded of the baggage, scarring and dismay that makes one lose footing and be held accountable for their own mistakes or bearing the brunt of not forgiving those of others.
The Platinumb Heart experience was an unrelenting reminder that we are still suffering and an even more daunting plea for cleansing. I went under the knife without anaesthesia and had to withstand the open-heart surgery fully conscious, pouring out the bloody trauma’s I’ve harboured over the years. As I was brought to my knees and left teary-eyed and heavy-hearted, I couldn’t help but be moved by Msaki’s rich choral background, her relationship with chords and chord progressions and her eagerness to go against the grain and speak out, doing her part in our collective healing. I am reminded that I still have time, a dream and only one life to be all that I can be; why not fetch the best version of myself? Why don’t you?
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