Herbalist – Project Review

October 13, 2022
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Music review by Lesego “Ginger” Dithebe

Herbalist Artwork created by Nkosana Nkomo

Album: Herbalist.

Artist: Pheko.

Genre: Hip-Hop.

Label: EasternVille Music.

A cure presents itself from the perspective of a healer. A poetic lyricist, Pheko, has released an album titled, Herbalist. The Sotho wordsmith has previously released two group projects. He chopped the Cliff Hanger album with Herb-Exe and led the way with Masupatsela on a self-titled album. Herbalist is his debut solo offering, and it was planted under the branch of EasternVille Music Affiliates – an artist development program that was established by the ever growing stable, EasternVille Music.

The album befits the title; it comprises a medicinal sound with organic content. It’s a health institution in musical form. There’s no flat line on the verses because the music embodies life. Pheko’s creative seed grew into a garden that produces an abundance of food for thought. He took a leaf out of his own book and levitated above the tree line. The flow is a fountain of wisdom. When listening to the album, one can discover their own destiny through Pheko’s journey.

He rocked the boat with a Kwaito Captain. Apart from Starpora who produced the opening jam, Kwaito Captain buttered up the rest of the album as a producer on every slice of the project. However, despite the better part of the delicacies being dished out by the same hand, the flavor varies on each serving due to the multi-skilled touch. The production ranges from emotive instrumentals and jazzy layouts to traditional sounds and upbeat arrangements.

There’s a balanced amount of collaborations on the album. The first three tracks may give the listener an impression that the project is riddled with features, but in contrast, there are only five tracks with guest artists. Pheko occupied half of the songs on the album without any lyrical or vocal partnership. Moreover, the artists that he pulled the strings with on the joint threads, helped to create grand material . They tailor fitted his conceptual designs and complemented his authentic style.

The album rose out of darkness with Starpora on Hona Mona . The features got Freeky on Sdudla, which was also co-authored by the executive producer of the project, Vincent Kheswa. Pheko embarked on a native tour with Melleng on Africa, before walking side by side with Kwaito Captain on Indlela. Sbusiso Manqa muted the beat and spoke from the heart on Baballa,  before proceeding to aid Pheko to wrap his gift by co-authoring the last track of the album, Neo.  

Herbalist is laden with different constituents of therapy. The songs are layers of rhythmical treatment. It’s an audio documentary of a healer who’s on a remedial path to feed his soul and starve his audience off misery.  Pheko’s diverse artistry enabled him to create a masterpiece that can cause traffic on the dancefloor and still make way for a vehicle of knowledge. He covered societally essential themes that range from gratitude, originality, and spirituality to family, hustling, and mental health, inter alia.

The album’s selling point is its commendable uniqueness. It’s a merger of music and poetry in the highest order. The artistry displayed throughout the project accentuates the elements of rap in its purest form. It’s a hip-hop project devoid of fluff. Pheko is a herbalist who served the masses with a potent product that will cure all the ailing souls. Its repeat value is a medical prescription – consume the album at least three times a day for the recovery of your broken spirit.

The best manner to bring a hip-hop album to life is to make contact with the relevant plug for conscious projects. This life support machinery was engineered  by veteran producer, Raw Beats. Ankha Nel of Inhouse Productions slaved away his expertise by mastering the project. Ankha Nel has over 40 years of audio industry work experience and held the position of Chief Engineer at two of South Africa’s most prestigious studio’s E. M. I. and Downtown Studios. Nkosana Nkomo drew emotions from the music to design the artwork. The project is an acknowledgement of flaws with a perfect delivery.

Rating: 10/10.

Herbalist by Pheko is available on all major Digital Stores.