Asheru Sleepless in Soweto

Asheru Sleepless in Soweto
7
Asheru may be familiar to fans of late '90s NYC underground hip-hop as one of the members of Unspoken Heard, the group who delivered a brace of excellent singles and the stellar long-player Soon Come. Or he might be familiar to you as the voice behind the theme tune of the animated cartoon series The Boondocks. As the title Sleepless in Soweto suggests, Asheru — who is also a teacher — is on a diasporic journey linking South Africa to the United States. South African hip-hop artist Jabulani Tsambo (aka Hip Hop Pantsula) is prominently featured on tracks, and "Funky DC" sports an upfront Fela Kuti-influenced Afrobeat groove. "No Matter Where You Go," featuring Ethiopian-born R&B singer Wayna, explicitly traces the middle passage from Africa to America and celebrates the resilience of culture in the face of hugely oppressive challenges. However, the album doesn't force haphazard cross-cultural collaborations on every track, showing Asheru has taken a meticulous approach to this project. "Make Magic" is straight-up slow-rolling funk, and "Last Days" is an appropriately ominous keyboard-streaked entry featuring Hip Hop Pantsula. Additionally, "So Amazing" is a warmly inviting house track. Given its expansive sonic and conceptual scope, Sleepless in Soweto is a very cohesive and well-executed project. (Guerilla Arts Ink)