When I got this mail, sometime last year, I was squeezed in between Edu’s bonny elbows and Bonnie’s long knees. Right across, the air was floating thick of Sewe’s endless humour. We were heading to Mombasa for an end year concert. For the next 6 hours, I’ll be on the road still, after which I will be surrounded by so many mamita’s (or Shpapis, as Brian would say) in nothing but bikinis. Even Shakespeares would’ve found it tough, writing under such circumstances. Not to mention the Mombasa heat which, after in-depth research, we discovered to be a ploy by beverage companies to keep their sales rocketing. Add the sun-scream brands too.
Mike mailed me a project on 30th Dec, one he was looking at putting out come 2nd January. The most honorary, humbling and respectful press release I have ever received. God bless Mike.
As such, we will also share in gratitude, a full spread highlighting This Is 30, giving you the feelings we experience whenever we play these record. These records will go down in history when they finally start to look at the African music and the gods who made it what it will become. Because they are busy shaping and building this history-to-be, block by block, day and night.
Mike Tareto, or as Holly often mistakes it, Terato, is one of the emerging greats in the near-erupting urban music revolution in Dar Es salaam, Tanzania. And truth be told, this is not some child’s play, the world is about to balance out and with it will come one of the biggest cultural revolution Tanzania has ever seen. Pah One started toying with this idea awhile back but they lost the back to hold on, reemerging as Navy Kenzo. Mike and his team are on some other level, however.
“Moma praying for me, I won’t fail…”
If you ask me the biggest new acts in USA right about now, I’d probably take ten minutes thinking. Why would I know what Ty, Weeknd, M.A, Thug, Kodak, Conor and their ilk are up to, when I’m getting the same content on an even better creative plane, right around me? I found our own stars, and I really enjoy celebrating their talent and greatness.
An eleven track album, one being an interlude, this is Mike’s debut album of which he says
“The project is essentially a chronicle of my life to this point. The artwork symbolizes how the child is a work of art in itself, but life acts as a vandal and all the marks left by this act of living are the feelings that stayed with me. Represented by the track list. But through all the turmoil one may encounter, it is important to have a positive outlook because you’re still worth it, symbolized here by the crown remaining even though the artwork has been vandalized.”
This is the gift Mike shared with us:
This record puts Mike on his own lane. By the time you are done listening, the hook will be stamped on your subconscious, so deep you might find yourself jumping around, with one fist in the air, screaming Freeeedom! The beat has that Jazzy feel, Tareto’s flow is juisiiiiiii. The storytelling skills are easily unmatched.
“and even Bad a$$es need friends like Steez, uuh, and that’s capital like Dodoma…”
Freedom is exactly that – a rally for ones personal freedom. and with it comes the realization from Tareto that freedom is never given, so you’ve got to rise up and take what’s yours. Mike echoes the sentiments of so many a people the world around. The quest to finding one’s self. This is the kind of music that requires and deserves that stadium performance.
Simple academics sees Mike coming back, riding another bumpy beat, with an old-school feel to it. It’s that celebration music, the ones you play at odd hours, coming back home from a successful grind and getting a cold bottie of Konyagi, because – home grown liquor, fuck henny. Who does he tag along? Mr. too young to be this nice, Simba. Gotta love Brian’s confidence, more so being what a great rapper he is. His switch from English to Swahili makes for such a sweet transcend.
“I’m getting spiritual but don’t call me pastor Mike, coz even when i pass the mic, it’s a give and go…”
Tareto is such a good storyteller ma, you’ve got to love it. The instrumental, though bouncy and get’s you easily bogging, is laid back and compact, leaving room for the artists to lay bare their thoughts as they rap along. This also gives room for them to showcase their flow and skills, switching it up at different points throughout out the song.
3. MILY is for all the Queen Mommas
And it starts with an acoustic piece with AVID’s fresh voice crooning over the guitar strings, before progressing to the lovely keys and live-sounding instruments! The love guys owe their moms is unimaginable. It feels amazing hearing others share similar emotions for their mom, that you quietly have for your mama makes me believe in humanity, yet. The love for mothers is a clear indication that we all share something similar, as humans. AVID adds the tenderness to this music by lending his vocals. I see Mike performing this different stages around the world.
“damn, its like I lost focus on the plan, I slipped up…”
Up to this, you get how much of a live music enthusiast Tareto is. Just by listening to his instrument choice, it’s crystal to imagine what his music influences are. Mike’s music is ageless and this is something laudable especially coming from a young artist, who would’ve easily chosen to do the regular and make pop records instead. This is not just any other rap song, this is music. Creatively and cleverly composed and arranged.
4. Growing pains is a well-timed interlude
Laced with a sprinkle of reggae, this song will get you aeroplaning around the house as you do all those crazy faces. An easy listen and one that gives you room to marinate upon the music you’ve just absorbed. Even on interludes, the music is still engrossed with vivid storytelling that reveal personal highs and lows the artist has endured.
Imagine if you will…
5. Profits & Losses
At the same damn time. A personal favorite, this has to be Mike at his level best, creatively. Rhythm and balance meet juxtaposition, impeccable storytelling skills and mad flow, creating perfect imagery. – a masterpiece!
“Same time that I got to Vegas, almost lost my sight to the bright light, is the same time that my dad was later losing the battle for his life…”
This track sees Mike explore the rhythmic correspondence and wave-particle duality nature of things. It’s interesting how he pieces together two opposing events next to each other, creating a strong contrast and what’s commonly wondered upon upon as the mysterious nature of life. The good and the bad, sadness and happiness, womb and tomb, high and low, ying and yang. Reminds me of Lupe’s Next To it.
Mellow and relaxing instruments encounter subtly aggressive vocals full of hard hitting reality facts. It’s all about dealing the cards that the universe hands us, broh. Do the most. I’m a fan of shout outs so when mike names the entire NBF squad here, ooh man, you gotta love it. Coz certainly, they’re doing the most
6. Trippin in threes
Five songs in and nothing so far about romance yet, apart from random mentions of exes and thots. The position of this track on the album is point on; not early enough to come out rushed like them first shots, and still not too late to make the ladies wonder if Tareto has any feelings for them. One of those late night records that provide awesome background music for exploration of Pandora’s box. Simply put, a great one for Jacky after y’all hit Mary.
“So they wishin to be in your position now they bring that opposition…”
This is Mike in his laid back zone. Talking to his woman. How men suddenly become soft, humble and polite when addressing their women. Hehee
The first of Sasha Nella’s two contributions on the album, Trippin sees Mike invite his Bar Es Salaam collaborator, George Gavin to bless this. Would really love to hear more of Nella’s music, she’s superb. Gavin is smooth on this one. I’ve been telling sisters out there to never trust smooth fellas. The way George comes through on this, you’d swear by the Qoran that he’s the most innocent kid alive. Hahaa, we know you brother. The Gavin that talks that responsible talk, that I’m-ready-to-meet-your-parents talk that the shawties die to hear. I think we all agree this Gavin is good, especially if you don’t have any daughter running around this streets.
7. The Fallen is up in the sky
Ask and you’ll be given. Holly wanted more of Nella, there she is, in all her royalty. This sister has vocals, the kind that makes a man stutter while responding to “so, how long have you been married” while wishing the ring on his finger would somehow disappear into his skin. The beautiful vocals have been born, kaka. And she seductively whispers she’s fallen, for me. God bless Nella and her vocals.
“Now who the guy that treats you best and leave you vexed from great sex?”
It’s like Mike heard the ladies whispering that he was ignoring their presence and so decided to grant them a double wish. Two love songs, back to back. The fallen is a movie music. The production on this one will have you questioning what music you have been consuming all your life. The background sounds make it a visual listen as the image of a thunderous night gawks at the back of your mind as you listen.
As if Nella’s stellar vocals are not enough amazement, Tareto brings forward Pablo. Now that’s a problemo.
Uhhh comes in, fast, picking it up right where Nella’s vocals fade out. With a fast-paced rap, he starts off by clarifying things and setting the girl straight to quit playing. I love Pablo’s aptness. His delivery is up there, with the stars, before they start fallin. This instrumental kinda reminds me of Slaughterhouse’s Aint Bullshittin, on a slowed out tempo with alternated drum drops.
8. Way too deep
If you thought the ladies succeeded at getting the meanness out of Mike, think twice, the boy’s nice. .How do you come out of a track like The Fallen and get straight up fired on Way too deep? Ask Mike.
A one-rap-verse record, Way too deep sees Avid coming back on the album to continue what he’d started. The pair make great music pamoja. That’s for sure.
“Liars, I see right through you, look how they do you, they trynna act like you’re the man but when you turn around they try to screw you…”
9. Fiend is the enemy of calmness
Heavy trap record, with the right ingredients still brings out the best of Mike. The energy on this jam is crazy but the build-up is crazier! Avid sure knows how to approach every record according to the emotions it elicits in him. Fiend brings out Mike’s diversity the most. It also shows his ability to identify the right collaborators for different tracks.
“all you gotta do is ask and I’ll do anything for you..”
The track introduces MJB and Ben Vic, two other great artists who’ve continuously impressed us on every other previous encounter. Tanzania is boiling with crazy talent. I’ll say this again, i sincerely can’t wait for the world to hear these music
10. Mirror Mirror of my life
The number of talented new school TZ artists is uncountable. The ladies are slowly and confidently joining the revolution, with their stilettos high, clutch in hand and a red or black lipstick dazzling on their glossy, pillowy lips, ending right on the outline where skin meets mouth . Well, that’s how I always picture someone like BRGT, I might be wrong, this J was a lil stronger today broh. The calm by which BRGT delivers her vocal is super impressing.
“the story has too many holes in it, now it aint holding up..”
Then Tareto comes with the fire. I love Mike.
The arrangement on Mirror is that of a seasoned musician who understands the concept of not just making great music, but pays keen attention to every single detail in each and every bar. he also knows how to pick the right instruments for a topic he wants to shed light on. Mirror is a reality check kinda record, on a deep personal level. The song with the most complex arrangement in the album, if you ask me. You can never lie to the man on the mirror, so it goes.
11. I Know, and this is crystal clear.
If a man truly could live to see his dreams manifest, then mine is to marry Nella, BRGT and Naomisia, sorry in advance to all the brothers this will rub the wrong way but I somehow, deeply believe the four of us were destined to be together. I can’t pick just one because, first i’m a kind man, very generous. Second, choosing is not an option here, really, and it’s okay to be greedy when it comes to singing goddesses. Imagine waking up to Naomisia’s angelic vocals, brunching as BGRT narrates her dreams to you, in that damning voice and the Nella getting you to sleep with her charming notes. Now that is the real Don life.
“so many dreams on my thought processes, then she said all she wanted was contentment…”
Back to reality, Mike still has the three ladies, and a great catalog of music to boot. I Know is like a confirmatory statement from Tareto that all these are not in vain. Because damn right, they aint. Talent like Mikes shouldn’t and can never go unnoticed. Not a for a brother who just bled his whole existence on a an album, got kind enough to share it with us, mere beings. Still wonders how gods became this kind.
“Motherfuckers never wanna see you moving on, they wanna turn around and see you but I’m so gone…”
Spoiled for choices, I know is a winner anytime. The live guitar riffs are to die for.
Now more than ever, it’s becoming a rarity to find an album that you can play track for track without the slightest temptation to push next as soon as the record begins. Mike deservedly joins the league of artists who’ve been able to craft a solid piece of art that is not trying to the listeners. The song line up is well thought out, pacing out the different tempos to create a harmoniously unified body of work. A perfect playlist, so to say.
“yeah yeah I know, yeah yeah I’ve been told, I’ve been getting kinda old, so this rap shit I should let it go, come on, thirty year old rookie…
We say, keep making that fire music, brother. The gods of light shall focus that spotlight upon you sooner than you know.
This is the kind of music you play on a Sunday evening, chilling on the balcony overlooking Cocoa Beach, right across from Masaki, and wondering what on earth happened to your weekend. Wishing Msodoki could bring you some chips mayai and a chupa of konyagi.
never ending respect to the producer Yondo, Jee Juh and Prime for this stellar contribution to Africa’s history. Special recognition to the sensei himself, Domi Beats, we see you king!
The good thing about listening to the new TZ artists is how easy it is to discover another talented act, from their projects. They move as a team, understanding that the spoils of success are there for all to share, everyone.