“Africa is the Future and I say the future is ancient,” says GNL Zamba, invoking the themes of cultural history and blackness he carries forward with his music. Regularly heralded as the “King of lugaflow”, Zamba brings innovation and power forward on his latest album, The Spear.
This record swerves between powerful rally calls and depths of love, then bridges the two. “Black Ceasar (ft. Black Shakespeare)” calls for black people everywhere to feel empowered as pulses of instrumentation roll out, and this sentiment is carried forward through the album journey. Velocity peaks in the self-empowering (and strong flowing) “Zamba the Great” and closing fight song, “Zim Zim Bombo”. In the latter, Zamba repeats the thesis that “giving up is illegal.”
If it’s the power that gives explosive pace to the record, it’s the love that grounds it. The opening track, “Africa”, energetically lists the countries in Africa, setting a space for exultation. Horns rise up through “No Borders”, which optimistically imagines a world without borders and war. Love finds its most mystical roots in “Energy (NRG)”, which beats through the album like a heart.
But GNL Zamba carries no ignorance of violence, even when digging deep into peace. “Wake the Fuck Up” pulses with sliding instrumentation, giving an off-kilter edge as the artist shouts out the title, and “Who Got the Power” pulls sirens into the sound. Distorted guitar is an emotional tool, and one that Zamba knows how to rise up over.
Threads of afro-futurism and storytelling weave The Spear together into a moving, powerful collection. There is ancient energy here — and no doubt that this is the future.