Tuks - Monopoly

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Label: Impakt Sounds Genre: Hip Hop In Monopoly Tuks starts us off with a slightly-distorted-by-static voice, feverishly addressing an audience, unravelling a conspiracy:

“The government is getting what they ordered. They do not want your children to be educated. They do not want you to think too much.”

If the sample sounds familiar it’s because it’s from the cult, viral film, Zeitgeist – an independently produced montage-doccie that lambasts capitalism as modern slavery, calls for liberty through global mobilization, and has apparently been viewed world-wide by over 100 million potential ‘recruits’.

Tuks takes this “Preface” and uses it shoe-horn us into the “The Reckoning”, a militaristic track that elaborates on this theme with the main and only difference being that he now applies the global to the local. Marching drums bump over parading trumpets as an emotive symphony lays itself at the base for Tuks’ sharply-delivered observations on the cyclic degeneration of township life.

The next track, “Interview”, is a semi-bitter and ironic take on press sensationalism. It knocks with a lo-key beat, as a laid-back, but scathing Tuks takes the media to task on its gross misrepresentation and love for rumours and beef-baiting.

Then there's “Hell Rain” and “Re Dah” which epitomise the preoccupations of Monopoly (yes, a concept album) in that lyrically they bring forward Tuks’ despairing loss of hope in current cultrural socio-political institutions. He spits on being enslaved by material possessions, the loss of ubuntu, and people “living with their coffins slung on their backs”.

But he hasn’t completely lost his patented sense of sly humour as he takes a break during "Re Dah" and contemplates having a beer to distress – and then he’s back into it calling out religion and politics for their empty promises.

Monopoly is a conscious departure from Tuks’ previous albums. The production is handled solely by Thaso and hangs precariously between the airiness of radio-friendliness and underground grittiness. Tuks says this gray area is a deliberate decision on his part, his intention being to “irk the mind” and provoke lucidity and reflection.

Expectedly, a lot of people might find the album exhaustive and preachy, and in some cases they might have a point – Tuks does seem to go on a bit. But at a time when most of local hip hop seems to apologetically fit itself into a commercial mould, Tuks’ impassioned audacity comes as a welcome breath of fresh air.