The first time I heard Vee.da.I (also known as Vee) was on a collaboration track called ‘Faces of War’ featuring Sheffield emcees Flex Digits and The Ruby Kid. The song is a unique concept wherein each emcee recounts a fictional first-person narrative from the perspective of a soldier forced to witness the brutal realities of conflict. Vee himself tells vivid tales of pillage and rape in his African village, and upon listening I immediately liked his style — especially his blending of rich polysyllabic rhyming with an extrovert but earthy swagger displaying definite shades of Talib Kweli (an artist Vee is increasingly likened to).
Vee.da.I (AKA Siviwe Zincume) is a South African-born MC who relocated to the UK in 2007, and has since shown a relentless ambition to make an impression in the music game. A down-to-earth individual with an inspiring work ethic and a firm ambition to make his mark, Vee is causing quite a stir in the underground UK hip-hop scene with his independent spirit, his unique experimental style and his exhibitionist persona which has so far proved to be a big hit with crowds as his popularity continues to soar. Along with fellow Chesterfield emcee Mulleezy, he’s also one half of Aquaublakk, a relatively successful independent hip-hop/pop fusion duo who’ve performed with Skepta, DJ Ironik, Chimpunk and various other big name urban artists. Putting in the grind working studios on the regular and even launching his own independent clothing line, Vee is sure to soon attract some serious media attention if he continues to rise up and prove his worth as he has been doing over the last year or so.
To promote his solo work, he’s recently put together a 5-track EP titled Horoscope which showcases a more conventional hip-hop side as a musical counterpoint to his more commercially viable work with Aquablakk, but still flirts occasionally with some experimental sounds. Self-produced for the most part, Horoscope is a taster of what’s to come and is crafted with a real musical flair and sensitivity. Besides, whether he’s spitting to pop-rap beats or over raw Premo-esque instrumental loops, Vee proves his versatility and that his developed ear for music dissolves any potential stylistic limitations or pitfalls. Indeed, this is something he can certainly use to his benefit as he pursues his music career — and given his style is not especially rooted in the underground, I genuinely feel Vee would make a seamless transition to the mainstream without necessarily having to make substantial compromises in the process.
Compared to his duo projects, Vee’s solo work captures a more palpable sense of the real world with its deep-set, true-to-life themes. Though the production on this EP could do with a bit of fine-tuning, he proves to be more than compelling lyrically to carry the listener through and to hold your attention fully from start to finish. The EP’s stand-out track has to be ‘African Seeds’ which co-opts the talents of Birmingham emcee Metamore in which both affirm their love and reverence for Mama Africa; with some nice code-switching between Vee’s native isiZulu and English, it exudes earthy African vibes from start to finish. Another stand-out for me is ‘Love ain’t Nothin’ which has some lovely soul samples infusing Vee’s stellar rhymes, as well as some nice experimental notes including an eccentric flute sample towards the end.
To leaven the deeper tracks a little is the knockabout humour on ‘Internet Gangstaz’: a clever tongue-in-cheek parody of wannabe-grime emcees directing all their pent-up aggression and phony gangster personas through cyberspace and who are altogether lacking in any real-life credibility.
Overall, there’s some real promise shown here and if you haven’t done so already, I definitely urge you to check this guy out: he’s a fresh and exciting new prospect who forgoes the cybernetic sheen of pop rappers, but stills maintains his flamboyant swagger to go with his fine blending of organic and synthesised sounds.
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