We give Tellaman's debut album, God Decides, a listen. Here's what Phumlani S Langa feels about it.
Tellaman: God Decides
Available on iTunes at R89.99
My thoughts were shrouded in scepticism when I hit play on my phone. Tellaman is running in a lane that has been dormant since the likes of Teepee fell off. We’ve needed a tight vocalist to smooth out the hooks in between verses. Tellaman – Thelumusa Samuel Owen – signed to a major label and dropped God Decides a few months ago and I couldn’t miss the chance to explore his work.
The album begins with a skit: a phone call where Tella’s girl apologises for the way one of her friends acted the night before. This is a slick segue into the first track, Are You With It, which boats a reference to a Keith Sweat melody on the man’s 90s classic, Twisted. This was masterfully done and I really enjoy when local artists sample in this manner, borrowing from not only the beat but also the actual melodies used in an original.
No Sharing (The Distance) failed the skip test. As soon as I heard his fake Jamaican accent, I had to skip, real fast. If you aren’t from the islands or if you aren’t from Nigeria or the Democratic Republic of Congo, then leave their accents be. The next track was way more pleasurable. A New Age duet with Shekhinah, who blesses us with her smoky vocals as her poisonous pen oozes out a venomous verse. Best beware when you get this sister to appear alongside you, you might just get faded on your own track.
World War III is another skit. This time Tella is in studio and he gets a call, similar to when Usher received unexpected news on his Confessions album. Tella is hard at work recording God Decides and tries to explain this to his girlfriend who hangs up angrily. Extra is a funky plea to his partner to stop looking to pick fights and just generally being extra. It is a well-arranged song allowing the brother to highlight more of his vocal range. He doesn’t have the widest one in the business.
Next, he gets introspective on Contemplating where he indulges thoughts of being unfaithful which dissolves into a skit called The Fall Out where the sister on the other end of the phone decides that they should call it quits which prompts him to rally his boys and hit the club on Crew Lit.
Straight up, he needs to stitch those four elements of his album together into a short visual presentation. Those sentiments might seem frugal to old readers, but youngsters who are still familiar with the intense burn of new love have been here at least once in their lives – I have, homie. The trapsoul tracks are what I enjoyed most on this debut. Tracks like If I Had a Type and Own Up work well although I would like it if his penmanship was tighter.
Also, for an emotively charged album about love, I found this way too Disney for my liking, a bit PG 13. Love is raw and passionate, sexually flammable. Some of this was too clean for me. It is a tricky manoeuvre because you could overshoot the amount of dirt you inject and end up with a Rainbow Hoes. Nasty C is featured on this track with a questionable metaphor at its centre.
On the whole, it isn’t too bad but perhaps slightly longer than it should’ve been. I only hope that Tella falls in love and goes through a heavy break-up as I feel that would render an even better record from this exciting urban crooner