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Malatji
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The First Prince .............. CDSTEP 124 GIANT STEPS
1. Nkatanga
2. Khelelo
3. Khelo Kheela
4. Cherie
5. Song Of Joy
6. Woza Sweetie
7. Rato Laka
8. So Blue
9. Mmawe
10. Ditaola
11. Holy Rain
12. Taxi To Phalaborwa
13. Mmapula

It's been a long time since a true world music album has captured the imagination of South African music fans, but that's about to change with the release of the debut album from newcomer, Malatji. Titled THE FIRST PRINCE, the album sees the Limpopo-raised singer, songwriter and pianist work with award-winning Selealo Selota who produced the album with Malatji as well as contributed several songs to it. The release of THE FIRST PRINCE is the first form of Selota's joint venture through his Live At The Shack record company with Sony BMG South Africa. At the center of THE FIRST PRINCE is Malatji's distinctive voice, which reflects nothing less than the continent's ancient history and is the most compelling part of songs like the album standout "Khelo Kheela". Driving the music is Malatji's piano-playing that provides the perfect match for his vocals. A self-taught musician, it's clear that the 31-year-old has a natural gift for melodies that transport listeners in the most effortless way, you need only hear the moving melody of Malatji's own "Taxi to Phalaborwa" to recognise his innate feel for the instrument.
That Malatji is so organically versatile should come as no surprise, he has experience working in the "Khekapa" tradition, as well as Gospel, Mbaqanga, reggae and even country music. The fact that Malatji sings in the lesser-known Khelobed language (spoken by the Modjadji clan, which includes the Rain Queen) adds to the compelling mix of music and lyrics on THE FIRST PRINCE. What's more, Malatji has already earned his live chops as part of Selota's band, and fans of the Afro-Jazz master will recognize his voice from Selota's last two recordings. THE FIRST PRINCE features a brace of original material from the artist's own hand, along with several of Selaelo's compositions. It's hard to define this new artist's sound: it's Afro-Jazz in part, but nothing like the plethora of releases that crowd this genre. It's also deeply (and, at times, reverentially) traditional. In short, THE FIRST PRINCE carries that sheen of freshness, of something quintessentially African that will attract a wider audience of world music lovers.


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