Trap-soul artist Sjava just released a deluxe version of his 2016 album Isina Muva, to celebrate the album reaching gold status.
The deluxe version features three new songs, each of them featuring the maskandi and mbaqanga-influenced vocals over a trap production that we’ve come to associate with Sjava’s sound. There’s ‘December’ featuring rap wunderkind Emtee, currently a fan-favourite. It’s a laidback tune that explores family politics and domestic conflict – a relatable song if you’re from a big and complicated family.
‘Impilo’, another of the new tracks, is about conflict and violence, with a strong societal critique. The song sees Sjava calling out for the elders to burn impepho and for pastors to pray. It’s the type of music you would expect from Sjava – sentimental, poignant and relatable, which is partly why so many South Africans love him.
Inevitably, within a genre such as South African rap where few musicians mix musical influences, Sjava has been compared to the likes of Mashayabhuqe KaMamba because they both combine maskandi and mbaqanga with trap. But Sjava has managed to carve his own lane through his lyrical content, where most of his lyrics are based on love and relationships, among other themes.
Isina Muva was one of those albums that fans discovered for themselves. It didn’t have as many singles as, say labelmate Emtee’s Avery. So it’s amazing to see it succeed, and seeing Sjava become a household name as a result of the fan’s embracing his sound and message.
I personally discovered how popular the guy was when I saw him performing at the Hipnotik Festival in Swaziland about a month ago. The crowd was singing along word-for-word to songs that aren’t even singles, and that kind of influence and popularity can’t be ignored.
Be sure to stream Isina Muva (Gold Deluxe) below and watch Sjava perform some of his songs from the album on JR’s Feel Good Live Sessions.