The Steezies - Snorting Lines of Turmeric (EP Review)
Right off the bat, it’s clear that The Steezies’ debut EP is going to be a happy affair: from the brightly- coloured, vibrant cover art done by Chris Auret, to the the EP’s title - “Snorting Lines of Turmeric”.
But, in that title is also a hint of the fact that – despite the happiness – there something deeper underlying it all which will only be evident when you read between those lines. The phrase “snorting lines” immediately conjures up images of people partaking in the drug of choice for the rich, but it is summarily and succinctly (and rather humourously) contrasted with the wonder-spice - turmeric.
This between-the-lines duality is ever-present on the EP. There’s definitely a political and social consciousness thread running throughout this EP, but never overtly so.
From the opening track, Khululeka (meaning “Be free”), The Steezies are inviting us to not be bound by the rules; to release our inhibitions and to come along for the party (all while taking a few verbal shots at some authority figures). “Be free”. Despite the hardships that may be around us. Hardships which are hinted at in track 2...
Get Along was the track I came back to most frequently. From the solid hand-clapping and vocal opening that progresses into a driving rhythm with a big chorus, this track with its obvious positive message for people to make peace and get along, has – yet again – more to it if one reads between the lines. In Get Along, we find people hiding from the “ugly reality” outside their fancy houses by drawing the curtains that “keep [them] safe and warm”. The song appears to be referencing the massive divide between the rich and the poor, - a very serious issue in a country like ours, where “get along” sometimes gets used, almost synonymously and in the same breath as “move along”.
This track is followed by the lighthearted Tshisa Nyama with its brief guitar and bass intro reminiscent of Paul Simon’s Graceland. This call-and-answer, very much tongue-in-cheek, humourous song is perfectly placed in the middle of the EP.
Anxious Nauseous is probably the most “rock”-oriented song on “Turmeric” and the rapid-fire lyric delivery reminds somewhat of REM’s “It’s the End of the World” with a vocal timbre more akin to Crystal Fighters. The high-energy outro, rich with brass, leads us into Mina, undoubtedly the EP’s single (it is, in fact currently on Zone Radio’s Top 40 and you can vote it up – once a day – by going to the page here).
The Steezies’ bio states that “their songs have been forged in the melting pot of a country that does not have a single consolidated culture” and Mina certainly reflects this sentiment. There’s hip hop, a touch of ska, a pinch of Brenda Fassie and a helping of Boo! all mixed into this song about celebrating individuality and condemning homogeneity. Mina continues the tone set in Anxious Nauseous but ups the energy even more with an infectious brass riff and bass line, ending “Turmeric” on an extremely high note.
The exciting and almost unexpected turns of the choruses in each of these songs catch you by surprise, but offers a tonne of delight when they do. This all makes “Snorting Lines of Turmeric” a unique dish that borrows from lots of recipes, but cooks up its own, very distinct flavour, that make you want to come back for seconds time and time again.
Keep an eye on their Facebook events for their massive show with The Rudimentals in June, where they’ll be collaborating with members of the Ingoma Choir from Imizamo Yethu.
From official bio: The Steezies have been rated as one of the top 5 up and coming bands by Between 10 and 5, they were rated as one of the top 10 sets at Rocking the Daisies 2017 by Texx and the City. Their show at Splashy Fen 2018 made it to the front cover of the Sunday Tribune, they were termed South Africa's next big headline act by SA Music Scene, and they have also played romping sets at Up The Creek and River Republic.