As far as concepts go, Tour Dates is possibly one of the best concept albums to come out of SA. As rapper Solo has openly shared the team’s experience while putting together a conceptual album with 14 features, with exception of the intro, the beauty of the album really lies in the stories behind how each 1 of the 10 tracks were put together.
“The whole idea of it was there was this very dope concept that would lead us to a tour, it stems from us saying we’re going to structure the music and the artwork and the track-list in the same way that you would release dates if you’re going on tour.” he told IOL during his press run.
Each featured artist essentially represents their home city on the feature, repping your city is sacrosanct in the hip hop scene.
The first track, Due Dates II, gives a very strong impression of the album, this is a rap album, and Solo can rap. The only track with no feature, this is Solo at his best, showing off his versatility as the beat surprisingly switches up for his second verse as he talks his shit.
Joburg comes through on Ideology, repped by Buks and L-tido, welcoming you to the economic hub of Africa. Touching on loyalty, validation and passion, although Tido is holding it down for Joburg, the last verse is a standout verse.
The album comes alive from Moon over the Jungle, featuring a nostalgic Run Jozi-esque K.O repping Mpumalanga. In a profoundly symbolic way, K.O’s verse truly paints a vivid picture of the realities of the concrete jungle that is Joburg. A guest in the city doing a better job at repping the city built on the backs of many a migrant.
The birth-place of South African hip-hop, Cape Town is repped by Youngsta on a heavily boom bap and 808 influenced sound. Solo holds his own against one of the best lyricists in the game, this is a beautiful cut.
Rouge, one of only two females on the album, comes through for the capital city on the only pop record on the album. Love Metaphor is the customary ‘love’ song, the chemistry between Rouge and Solo is impressive as they exchange lines on typical relationship dynamics on the back of a catchy pop hook.
Paying homage to one of the best to ever do it, Solo saved his best for Soweto, and its no surprise, Maggz has been known to murder features and this one is no different. On the first two verses, Solo gives us a frank and courteous breakdown of Maggz’s career and position in the game, Top 5. A gracious Maggz accepts the tribute and effortlessly blows the last verse out the water. Best record on the album.
The lead single, Caffeine and Other Drugs, features Kid X, Reason and No Moozlie repping the East Rand. As expected, the most commercial record on the album with No Moozlie surprisingly owning the best verse.
After the East Rand peak, the album starts to wane to an end, Limpopo’s Ain’t Ready is a dope feel good vibe; the only track with a dominant vernacular feel courtesy of pH. The less said about Dreamteam on Ngeke Bas’tshele the better. The last track on the album, 30 000 O with Cap City royalty P Dot O, Blacklez and N’Veigh is a typical Pretoria jam.
Although Solo stressed that the album is not a who killed who type of album, in hip-hop, that comparison and focus inevitable. He held his own throughout a formidable list of features, the production in particular is impressively consistent and the album knocks for the better part of the album.
The album doesn’t sound like anything on the market right now, if you haven’t given Solo and THE BETR GANG an ear, its time that you do!