Botswana/Tāmaki rapper Phodiso bookends his EP trilogy with Act III, displaying a finesse for bars and production alike.
Making music is hard. Behind every track is a mosaic of efforts; from lyrics, instrumentation, production, and performance. And that’s not even taking into account the behemoths known as marketing, or more candidly, making a name for yourself.
Here’s why I mention this. Act III, the latest EP from Phodiso, is an irresistible display of contemporary rap that sounds effortless – but of course, we mustn’t forget that it wasn’t.
Act III was born riding on a “rollercoaster of emotions”, with two soggy PB&J sandwiches in the tank. It was born out of a desire to keep the flame alive, “regardless of how hard it is to persist”. But with persistence, comes greatness. Let’s take a closer look.
Act III is the final string of Phodiso’s introductory EPs, each better than the last. For the final act, Phodiso buckles down on his notable strengths of funk production and flaunting bars: “Stay sipping on the goodness I’ve been brewing up”, he quips on opener Right To It.
Yes, Phodiso keeps it true to himself, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for inspiration. Across the tracklist, the odd lyric will be echoed with female backing vocals; an effective trick right from Kendrick Lamar’s playbook.
I’d especially like to shout out the midpoint track, Look. With its rapid-fire pop hook, “look at me, look at me, look at you, look at them”, vibrato bass, and jazz organ, this track is an undeniable, swaggering groove. The New Zealand-residing rapper is continuing to prove that high-calibre hip hop doesn’t need to come from the US.
Circling back to the EP’s creation, if you listen closely to the bars found in Act III, you’ll notice there’s an emphasis placed on sticking to your guns. A message of continuing to do what you love, regardless of outward perception or critical notions.
Not only is Phodiso telling himself this; he’s telling us, the listener. What an uplifting bookend to a remarkable chapter in Phodiso’s budding musical journey.
Support Phodiso on Bandcamp here and stream Act III below: