Named after the isiZulu word for ‘mirror,’ Sjava’s third studio album is a self-reflection—but also a reflection of society. Isibuko is Sjava’s meditation on the ups and downs of love, and life’s unending challenges and triumphs, as he takes time to inspire and motivate—a defining trait of his music since his 2016 debut Isina Muva. British producer duo Delayde and Webmoms link up with Sjava’s longtime producer Ruff to provide a soulful soundscape that leans towards electronic jazz, defined by a flurry of lush airy pads and Ruff’s signature bassline, a fitting backdrop for the heartfelt musings of Sjava and his staggering roster of guest stars. Here, Sjava breaks down the inspiration behind key songs from Isibuko. “Iphisi” “People who hunt are called iphisi. So I’m talking about the hunter, and also talking about peace. It’s a song about a guy who thanks a woman for being patient with him, someone who appreciates the little they have. I also speak about women who choose to marry guys only because they are rich. Today they are crying, and I’m saying to the one who chose me, she chose peace. Thanks for taking care of the kraal while I’m out hunting.” “Ungavumi” [Sjava, Saudi & Sampa the Great] “This song was inspired mostly by what’s happening in the US, especially the killings. That’s why I use the word ‘n***a.’ I did it with Saudi and Sampa the Great; I like the way she raps.” “Amakhehla” (feat. Vernotile) [Sjava, UDUMAKAHLE & Anzo] “It’s a song that talks about people who do bad things to people, forgetting that those people have elders watching over them. So, if you kill a person, it will end up being revealed, because that person’s ancestors are looking out for them. So when you do something to me you are not just fighting me, but also fighting lamakhehla engihamba nawo.” “Isoka” [Sjava, Q Twins & Mzukulu] “There’s a Zulu idiom, ‘Alikho isoka elinganasici,’ which means ‘nobody’s perfect.’ I’m saying to the woman, they can tell you this and that about me, but so what—nobody is perfect.” “Akabuye” [Sjava, Mzukulu, and Inkos’yamagcokama] “It’s a song that talks about a woman who’s in an abusive marriage, so now her brother is asking why their family is quiet over this. The brother is warning the sister’s husband that if he continues, [the brother] could find himself being jailed for hurting him in defense of his sister. [It’s about] usibali [‘brother-in-law’] who’s fed up, basically.” “Inhlonipho” [Sjava & Umzulu Phaqa] “It’s a song that speaks about how far respect can take you. It’s showing this is what respect has done for me, what doors it has opened for me.”

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