After two years in the making, Johannesburg alternative rapper Sam Turpin dropped his latest, aptly named mixtape, 4am in Jozi, which pays homage to his hometown.
The 11-track mixtape is exclusively written and produced by Sam himself and is heavily inspired by Johannesburg, which is clear on tracks like ‘Bree Street’ featuring Ghanaian rapper Yaw P, as well as the project’s lead single “Lunar Vibe” — a trippy ode to the dark and dangerous nightlife of Johannesburg.
SA’s rising prince of soul, Langa Mavuso also assists on ‘The Heart’s Boom Bap’, a woozy, low-fi ode to mental and emotional struggles. Beyond the city he calls home, 4am in Jozi features social and personal lyrical content, which he describes in his signature wavy beats and unconventional rapping style.
Sam’s abstract, fledgling, still-developing style of rap often makes it very difficult to describe his music as hip-hop, which isn’t anything all that new at a time when many young rappers are experimenting with new sounds much to the displeasure of purists.
Listening to Sam’s music from his first two EPs Eternal Sentiment (2014) and Wasi-Wasi (2015), one has a difficult time describing his sound especially in the context of what is understood by the genre. Whether this is intentional or not, his music is unconventional and overly abstract, which can leave many listeners feeling uneasy due to his disjointed raps and trippy beats.
Having followed his journey over the years, I appreciate Sam’s consistent originality as well as his growth, especially in terms of producing and making beats, an aspect in which I suspect his friend and collaborator Njo Illa N has a significant influence.
Although much of 4am in Jozi feels quite green, I quite enjoyed the project’s production especially his last track ‘Morning’, a simple, deceptively beautiful end to a slightly restless project.
With time, one hopes that Sam’s raps will compliment his production and join the dots of his many thoughts to tell a more coherent story, letting listeners into his personal life and experiences.
I’m excited to see how he continues to grow and develop his beatmaking and lyricism and I trust that he will continue to passionately represent Johannesburg, while staying true to himself. I hope that with experience and time the scene will open up to him so he can make the transition from underground rapper to indie favourite.
Take a listen to Sam Turpin’s full EP below. You can also catch him in Johannesburg at the Kalashnikovv Gallery in Braamfontein, on the 17th of August where he’ll be performing tracks of the mixtape.