Over the course of three albums in just over 10 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 to accompany the unexpected released of his 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,” he says.
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 16 June, 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 balances South African household pop names and international heavy weights: Busiswa, Simphiwe Dana, Kelly Khumalo, Saul Williams, and 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,” he adds.
Click here to purchase Return Of The King.