By Dennis Asiimwe
It is safe to say that with, Nseyeya, Shafiq has gotten a little ambitious.
If I sound like I am damning him with faint praise, I apologize I always liked his minimalist approach to music (often acoustic guitar and percussion), and it was an approach he used as his base, with an occasional wind instrument, like a sax, and a keyboard thrown in. Alongside his vocals, which can be powerful and evocative, it was an effective ensemble. However, Nseyeya feels like Shafiq is coming out of the inevitable comfort zone that creeps up on you when you are involved in creative work.
It certainly comes packing way more than his usual material, with out sounds like a full session team and a mini choir thrown in for some sumptuous harmonies. Hang on a minute, that actually sounds like his usual set, but with probably keyboard bass? I can’t be too certain, but it is easy to argue that the main reason this differs from his usual material is those backing vocals.
Nseyeya is a multi-lingual song, performed in English and another language that I couldn’t quite place – I want to say Swahili, but that would be guessing. I should have asked Shafiq of course but by the time I threw this review together, it was past midnight, which is when most sane folks are asleep.
It is good to hear Shafiq go for a fuller sound. While Nseyeya is a sort of mid-tempo offering, it is easy to imaging him giving some of his more up-tempo material this full sound treatment. It would certainly work out for him. When you are trying to place Shafiq’s music in terms of genre, thin of it as Afro-pop with a world music element to it. That would be about as accurate as one can get in this regard