The South African pop spectrum is a complex one to navigate as a young artist. There’s the constant dilemma of not wanting to maintain a ‘South African’ sound just for the sake of it. While it can benefit you on an international standing where audiences are, often unfairly and ignorantly, hoping for “something different” from South African artists, this can frequently leave artists in a tight bind. Ultimately, sincerity is the key to authenticity, and while it can take years for an artist to establish that sense of self, it’s also the first thing an audience will recognise.
Shekhinah has cleared herself a path that is one part definitive – in the sense that her vocals are incredibly distinctive – and another part ambiguous as she seems to be able to change it up to suit a song’s conceptual objective. Her latest offering, ‘Suited’ (released through Sony), announces her first step into fully-fledged solo territory, after having grown last year through prolific collaborations with Sketchy Bongo, Black Coffee and DJ Slique.
The track opens with a gripping verse of already established, infectious Shekhinah rhythms and inflections. That being said, pre-chorus of the song feels a bit repetitive and ambivalent. The chorus, while catchy, falls into the trap of sounding like many other love-anthem pop songs where chopped up vocals are used to lead, but the housey beat beneath it saves the day by being strong enough to make you forget about it all and just want to dance.
As it goes with pop music, the music video plays an important role in our assessment of the song as a whole. The interplay of music and visuals is what is most enjoyable about ‘Suited.’ The general aesthetic of the video never tries too hard to be too specific – it’s colourful, charismatic and fun, and it’s only very subtle yet definitive hints that let you know it’s set in South Africa – much like the qualities of the song.
This juxtaposition of clear effort with seemingly effortless execution is a great sign of an artist who knows exactly what she wants, so there’s no need for over compensation – and you’re left feeling at ease. In an internet age of short attention spans, it certainly says a lot for an artist’s sincerity, longevity and confidence.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for Shekhinah. Personally, I’m hoping for something a little bit more striking, but that’s entirely up to her and and her growth and direction as an artist. Regardless of personal preference, it’s great to see one of South Africa’s most distinctive voices authentically forging ahead on her own exciting journey.
Check out Shekhinah’s ‘Suited’ video below: