Music savant, Masego, encourages self-reflection with ‘Self-titled’ album

Music savant, Masego, encourages self-reflection with ‘Self-titled’ album

Masego is an extraordinarily gifted musician, artist, singer, producer, performer, DJ, and creative director. He is what I like to call a, “Multi-Talented-Millennial”. The number of skills he continues to gain by the year are unmistakably part of the 23 year old Jamaican-American brand. As a musician he is loved by crowds across all genres but the critics love to place his music in R&B, hip-hop, dance and jazz. Emphasizing the keyboard saxophone, bass guitar and a synthesizer, Masego delivers time after time soul like harmonics blended on top of jazz and blues scales – smooth and glazed like icing on cake. However, in his newest Self-Titled album, Masego wants the listeners to sit back and learn that there is more to the artist than what the eye sees and the ears hear. 

Photo by Sam Erickson

As an entrepreneur, a businessman, and an individual seeking his own legacy, Masego is also known as “Mr. Do It All Himself”. As in “I do everything, everything, everything…” Masego sings in the final song of his first released album Loose Thoughts (2016).

Doing everything by yourself can be exhausting and although Masego has the work ethics of a race horse, doing everything by yourself can only go so far. Loose Thoughts did not sell out at shows for the start of his career, but it did give him the attention of French artist FKJ (French Kiwi Juice), another multi-talented-millennial and strong music ally who was actually already known as the “Mr. Do It All Musician” in Europe a few years before Masego launched his first album.

The duo made a huge breakthrough for Masego’s career. His second album Lady Lady (2018) and its now diamond-selling lead single, “Tadow” featuring FKJ put Masego on the map for multi-year headline tours and sellout shows on every continent. Following the success of Lady Lady, Masego released an album Studying Abroad (2020) which was nominated for a Grammy with the help of producer Don Toliver. So, after 3 years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the re-opening of many large music venues, what kind of success can we expect to see from Mr. Do It All Himself in his next proclaiming Self-Titled debut?

At first glance I admired his opening song “Black Anime”. Again, I create the term “multi-talented-millennial” because specifically, Millennials are the only generation born with the internet and computer technology we have today. Therefore, Masego as a 23-year old black musician grew up loving that early American 90s culture. The type of kid who woke up early on Saturday mornings to watch his favorite cartoons with a bowl of cereal on the couch.

Millennials have to learn to deal with instant gratification (or lack thereof) and emotions differently than the other generations and Masego starts to express himself about that conflicting energy throughout the entire album. His stories walk you through some of his daily experiences like a Kendrick Lamar song, however we listeners still want to feel lost in the beats we know Masego produces. That’s why we don’t hear those leathery sounds of that saxophone solos until the second song of the album “Sax Fifth Avenue”. Of course! We don’t get what we want until we put down the money for it.

That is the conflict Masego wants us to understand in his Self-Titled album. Sometimes, some things taste better when you’ve earned the right to pay for it yourself.

We move through a good chunk of the album with a lower frequency like vibe that we usually don’t hear from Masego. It is almost as if we are hearing the artist speak on depression or sad moments for the first time. Not that feeling sad or blue is negative in any way, but it is very different from the bouncy dance vibes everyone expects from “Tadow”. Perhaps, the boasting is starting to affect his character? What was once just a facade for the stage is starting to affect his everyday personality?

Masego follows through with a series of songs that are like the push-and-pull of emotions you go through when you’re a teenager becoming a young adult. One minute he is reflecting on that feeling when you don’t want anyone around you and you just want to be alone, then the next moment you feel flooded with loneliness and start reminiscing when people you loved most surrounded you. He literally illuminates this internal struggle in his song “Who Cares Anyways”, when he sings, “Dave Chapelle vibes, move to Africa… Put me in the 90s, put me in a time machine”, then proceeds to title the next songs “Bye Bye My Love”, “Say You Want Me”, and then “Two Sides (I’m so Gemini)”. 

Photo by Sam Erickson

The young artist concludes his duel-emotional playlist by calling out the listeners and say, “You Never Visit Me”. In dialogue he says the person he is singing to is his “ex”, but could his “ex” be interpreted as something else? Perhaps Masego is identifying with his previous love with money? Or his lost desire to be a people pleaser? Perhaps he feels like he has to dismiss the old version of himself that he used to love? Or bluntly, he arrogantly wrote a song specifically to call out his “ex”. One thing for certain, he doesn’t give us what we want until we have listened to his whole story, meaning we have given him what he wants in return.

My favorite song out of all the songs in the album would be “In Style”. It’s pretty obvious to say, Masego gives us the drums, the sax, the piano, the all in that one song. It’s the song for certain the lights will be beaming high, the crowd will be jumping, and everyone’s emotions will be high once again. But he doesn’t give us what we want until we’ve paid for it. 

Once again the theme of the album flourishes with the genius of his multi-talented facets. Masego pulls us in with the sounds that we love to hear by him. He then pushes us out of our element by forcing us to think about our childhoods and the reasons  we do what we do, the things that we do. Again pulls us into the 90s cartoon references and tunes that were mystical and mysterious like Tom’s Diner, then pushes us away while laughing at us at the dinner table. Finally to conclude, he pulls us right back “In Style” with the party we’ve been waiting for and allows us to reflect on our own through that “Eternal Sunshine”, which is the final destination of the emotional roller coaster Masego has destined the listeners to accomplish. 

Some final thoughts are that this album is absolutely powerful and will have a great impact on the followers he has gathered over the years of his success. For the most part, it’s not the dance album some people may have hoped for and I, for one, am curious to know how he intends to mix this album into his future tours. One way or another, we can all expect that that Mr. Do It All Himself will continue to sell out his shows and put on a 100% stellar performance as he has done in the past.

Self-Titled Track Listing:

  1. Black Anime
  2. Sax Fifth Avenue
  3. What You Wanna Try
  4. Afraid of Water
  5. Down in the Dumps
  6. You Play with My Heart
  7. Remembering Sundays
  8. Who Cares Anyway
  9. Bye Bye My Love
  10. Say You Want Me
  11. Two Sides (I’m So Gemini)
  12. You Never Visit Me
  13. In Style
  14. Eternal Sunshine (Fire Pit)

Artist Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Tik Tok | Spotify | Soundcloud

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.

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