The African beat 

African hip-hop ambassadors Tumi and the Volume join guest performers for the Heart of Boogey Tour

"(The solo album) gives me more of a challenge to see if my voice can be heard a little more and to know exactly what my sound is." Photo submitted
  • "(The solo album) gives me more of a challenge to see if my voice can be heard a little more
    and to know exactly what my sound is." Photo submitted

African hip-hop ambassadors Tumi and the Volume join guest performers for the Heart of Boogey Tour

What:Heart of Boogey Tour

When:Sunday, July 2

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company

Tickets: $10/$15

What exactly is African hip hop?

Emcee Tumi Molekane of Tumi and the Volume ponders the question.

"I have no idea," he says, laughing, asking fellow band members the same question. They in turn chuckle, but are quickly distracted by the World Cup soccer game between France and Spain.

The group is indulging in some rare and precious downtime at a local haunt in Tofino on Vancouver Island before heading east for their Nanaimo concert, part of The Heart of Boogey Tour, which features Tumi and the Volume alongside singer/songwriter Zaki Ibrahim, MC Isis and DJ Nana. The troupe performs Sunday, July 2 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC).

Tumi returns to the question, talking about how people are trying to define South African hip hop and how within the definition, comes criticism for anything that stretches beyond the use of African instrumentals.

"We’ve been on the other side of that," Tumi said. "We’ve gotten slack for rhyming in English or the band style music we play. But it is really good because it creates for us the expectation for us to stretch the boundaries and to ask people to be a little bit more of what they know and what they are comfortable with."

The multi-cultural melting pot of musicians mixes up Canadian-raised performers with Africans to generate a synergy of musical exploration.

Tumi and the Volume are the South African hip-hop ambassadors of the bunch, bringing a contemporary South African flavour to the show with influences spanning everything from rock to hip hop and dub to Afro-jazz. The layered sound comes together on the band’s self-titled debut album released on Toronto’s District Six Music label July 4.

Tumi and the Volume has toured extensively throughout Africa, Europe and North America, sharing stages with the likes of The Roots, The Cardigans, Coldplay, Blackalicioius, Black Eyed Peas and Massive Attack.

With two visits to Canada last year, the previously-unknown group has become a force to be reckoned with on Canadian hip hop soil. Their fame spread like wildfire after headlining alongside Somali-born K’naan as part of the African Way Tour. Tumi continues to keep his friends close. K’naan and Tumi will lay down recording time in a Vancouver studio to produce a track for Tumi’s debut solo album before charging up Highway 99 for the Whistler show.

"(The solo album) gives me more of a challenge to see if my voice can be heard a little more and to know exactly what my sound is," Tumi said.

Tumi says he in no way intends to leave the group, only further his creative possibilities.

His current outlet is the Boogey Tour with Zaki Ibrahim, whose rich poetics earned her company with a broad family of Canadian and South African musicians, including Juno-Award winners Kemo (Rascalz) and DJ Serious (Quartertones).

MC Isis stokes listeners’ imaginations with her beats and lyrics. She was one of the first Canadian artists to perform at the Apollo Theatre in New York City.

DJ Nana brings a long list of even longer-standing residencies at Toronto’s and Montreal’s hottest clubs, sharing stages with The Roots and K-os.

"It’s cosmopolitan," Tumi says of the band. "These are the guys who should have something to say and should be listened to. People want to come and check that out. They think it a novelty, but then they come and say, ‘Wow’ and they realize the music is really dope and they stick around."

Advanced $10 tickets are available at Outdoor Adventures. Tickets $15 at the door. Doors 9 p.m.

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