South African artist Muzi has released his new EP MAMA. Muzi blends together modern Afrobeats with deep house and pop from the 80’s and 90’s into a something that sounds global. He released his third album ZENO at the end of 2019 that honed that sound. The new EP builds on that with six new songs that combine soaring vocals, danceable afrobeats and a melancholic cheer that will bring a smile to your face to juxtapose sad lyrics with bouncy beats. At over six tracks, it covers a lot of the vibe he likes to deliver with his music.
To get a better idea of how the EP was made and the creative concepts that help shape MAMA, we asked Muzi to go deeper with an Extended Cut feature. This EP, as one might expect from the title, was heavily influenced by his mother, who sadly passed away. It goes through the various stages of grief, while celebrating her life through music. She shaped who he is today, especially musically, so this EP goes out to her. If you can, call your mom today.
Listen to the EP now and get your copy here.
1. Don't Let Me Go
This song is based on the first stage of grief, Denial. This is a song about not wanting my mom to let go of me. Sonically, I love making sad music lyrically but having a vibey beat to juxtapose it. I want to have us dance through the pain instead of listening to it and being completely sad. My mom loved 80s South African dance music, she introduced me to it so it felt right to start off EP with this. I still aimed to make the music as if she was going to hear it - still wanting to make her proud of me.
2. I Miss You
Another dance tune, touching on her (mom) leaving and me missing her dearly. In the song, I am talking about her seeing my grandmother in heaven and saying hi to her for me. When she (mom) passed on, I was in Johannesburg and she was still back home in Empangeni, Kwa Zulu Natal. I wrote this song wishing I was there while stuck here in Johannesburg, supposedly working hard to make life better for myself and her but I wasn't there for her in her final moments, so, I'm angry at myself for that. Therefore, bringing in the 2nd stage of grief/loss.
Creatively, I wanted to make this sparse with predominantly vocal humming with me singing on top of that. When I wrote this, I didn't really believe in myself. I thought I couldn't make music anymore because I realized how much I had used her as a foundation for my art and my happiness. Now to create something and not have her there felt very off and weird. I didn't know how to continue or if what I'm doing with my career was even worth it anymore. On top of that, I was thinking about all the lessons she would've taught my daughter and how I'm going to have to pass them on - and I don't know if I'm mature/ready enough to do that authentically or as well as my mom would've. Touching on the fourth stage of grief; depression.
4. Mama Dance
My mom loved to dance. It's actually how she met my dad; they were both lovers of music. I wanted to make a song that celebrated that part of her - just a full on dance tune, because she loved these types of songs on my previous albums, Afrovision and Zeno. Sonically, I put a vocoder on the song because the first time I heard that was in my parents Toyota Cressida, when they were playing Daft Punk.
5. The Calling
This is a song about me telling her (my mom) that she can now let go of me because they (our ancestors) are calling her. I don't want her to go but I know she has to. Not because I'll be fine but because I know she needs to continue on her journey. In a way, I hope she knows that I’ll be okay, not anytime soon but one day.
My mom's surname is Khoza. A respectful way of addressing her without using her first name is to add a 'Ma' prefix (signifies a woman in the Nguni language group). The song touches on me having to continue living without her. I use the reference of the sun a lot in my music to talk about the light/darkness in my life. I use the sun here as a beacon of hope. Sonically, I went for something orchestral to make it truly epic and to give her a proper sonic boom of a send-off. I was thinking a lot about my own death and how I wanted to live my life moving forward. I sing about hoping for the day when I will see her again, when my time to go join my ancestors arrives. This song references the final stage of grief; acceptance.