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Nama Xam’s Instru-Mental is Fundamental Sonic Healing

With his INSTRU-MENTAL Volume One Album NAMA XAM effortlessly weaves a sonic tapestry that transcends conventional boundaries.

With meticulously crafted soundscapes that effortlessly blend elements of Classic Boom-Bap, Jazz, and Soulful Sounds layered with Modern Electronic Textures, Nama Xam takes you on a journey that has a rare ethereal air to it which infects you with positive vibrations.
We have been fortunate enough to enjoy Instru-Mental for over a week before its official release and it is genuinely one of those albums on which you press play, and let it run without ever feeling the need to skip anything even when the whole album has fully rotated a few times in a row.

Better known for his rap skills as a Hip Hop artists, for his poetry and for his Cultural Activism, Nama Xam, has with his latest offering allowed his skilful craftsmanship as a musician to come to the fore.
A classically trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist Nama Xam says that the process of creating his Instru-Mental album was intended as a personal vehicle of healing for himself which he hopes will transcend to everyone who will hear it.

After around three decades Nama Xam is still very much active within Hip Hop Culture, and like many of his contemporaries, he started off as a B-Boy before he got into rap. As a hip hop artist and music producer he has numerous acclaimed albums, singles and live projects on his resume working solo and as a collaborator, but this is certainly something beyond his previous works.

Instru-Mental is totally different from any album he has ever made or worked on and you may just possibly have never before heard a whole album put together in this manner.
All the music on Instru-Mental was written, performed and produced by Nama Xam. Interestingly, as one normally tends to expect with someone who has a long history in Hip Hop, there are no direct samples or recreated loops lending from any pre-exiting works by other artists.
“Whatever samples and loops I have used on Instru-Mental were created from scratch by myself as part of my process, aside from the different instrumental passages that were played live onto the tracks”

Nama Xam at one of his many excellent live performances – Image: Nama Xam Facebook

Glimpses Into The Instru-Mental

Following on the opening track Intro to XAM, a very short piece introducing the vibe of your journey which Instru-Mental is about to take you on, Nama Xam’s Meeting You Was Magical doesn’t feel like merely a statement in the past tense. It has a vibe of present tense nostalgia and future hope, and perhaps you’ll even meet a little bit of yourself in it.
Speaking of nostalgia, on I Remember West Ridge, an almost strange mix of melancholy and pride, Nama Xam takes you on a musical walk through the Apartheid-era project township of Westridge Mitchells Pain, where he grew up. The synth brass sounds and textures reminiscent of a mid-80’s electronic keyboard feel like they were purposely made to sound like ‘outdated technology’ in order for them to evoke memories.
I know that for some people that ‘outdated sound’ may clash with their sensibilities but for this specific track, in my opinion it makes absolute sense.

Whereas the preceding tracks can be seen as self-diagnosis, the next track Anahata – Unbeaten evokes a sense of just chilling and vibing, as if finding contentment in a space where you aren’t overwhelmed by major complicated thoughts.
We asked Nama Xam what Anahata – Unbeaten means in literal but also in musical terms.
“The term Anahata for me is mostly about finding balance, hitting that sweet spot without simply aiming for it but by realigning everything else around you and inside of you that prevented you from achieving your balance”
“Anahata in Sanskrit literally means unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten and it comes from the idea of creating a sound without ‘touching two parts’ which is quite an abstract concept. The term Anahata also refers to the heart chakra that relates to purity, cleanliness and balance, and that is Instru-Mental when applied to your own healing”

Of course the album name literally tells you that it’s not a rap album but out of the fourteen tracks there are three tracks which definitely can fall within the rap category while also still being considered as jazz.


A lyrical mastermind with a conscious healing story to tell, Nama Xam of course would never write a rhyme just for the sake of it.
The Chorus, the first to come up and primarily in Afrikaans, not only speaks of Nama Xam’s Khoi heritage but also addresses the healing aspect of telling your own stories and of him (and us) needing to Express Self, regardless of whether or not others take a liking to it.
In his second Rap offering Oggendson further down the track list on the album Nama Xam takes a view on “new beginnings” that come with sunrise, the dawn of every new day.

Instru-Mental then enters into what can be seen as an expression of unfettered joyous serenity that though not intended to get a full-on dance party going, will at the very least induce some pleasant head-bopping and foot-tapping.
This part of the jurney somewhat harkens to the impactful Acid Jazz sounds of the late 90’s and first decade of the 2000’s riding on some Boom-Bap beats and a touch of Cape Jazz, which all to varying degrees come to the fore as the album progresses. The tracks EK Smaak Met Jou Te Dans and Hip Hop Jazz both have the effect that you imagine you could hear a vocal melody but not as something which is ‘missing’. Rather, vocals would really just be an unnecessary intrusion of your own interpretation of the music.
The same goes for Net So which is somewhat further down the track list.

Instru-Mental Volume One is Now Available on Bandcamp

Instru-Mental Volume One is Now Available on Bandcamp

Props to Bobby slows things down a bit and there will be a familiarity in the sound that you might or might not be able to immediately place.
More soft tenderness than melancholic grief it is a tribute to the late Bobby Caldwell whose music since the 1980’s has had a huge impact on Cape Jazz scene for music lovers and musicians alike. Some Cape Jazz bands and singers still to this day perform covers and reinterpretations of Bobby Caldwell hits.
The singer-songwriter who passed away in March 2023 had the humorous distinction that even in the US where he is from, and also across the world, people would only find out that he was white when they had one of his album covers in their hands.
As for those tinges of familiar sounds on Props to Bobby, those are not direct or recreated samples of Caldwell’s music but they are new interpretations that encapsulates his overall sound.

My Piano with its Acid Jazz vibe that carries some really soulful jazzy piano licks can perhaps be seen as a musical expression of gratitude, both for life and for the piano, as it is him being a pianist that sets his music apart from many of his peers in Hip Hop. Not that he is snobbish about it, but he has many times in the past expressed his appreciation for having had that opportunity as a kid growing up.
That then extends to the track Angela which is a piece that has beautiful smooth-jazz piano chords and licks riding on a minimalist jazzy hip hop beat, a chorus synth, and with a bassline that is more of an undertone than the backbone of the track. Both Intricate and simplistic at the same time, Nama Xam pays tribute to his late mom Angela who with her support and dedication was Instru-Mental in his journey of becoming a musician.


WATCH Nama Xam Introducing the Release of Instru-Mental with The Announcement playing in the backround

I think that Nama Xam knows a little more about my musical taste than he has let on in the past. When sending me Instru-Mental over a week ago, he told me what he thinks would probably be my favourite track. OK maybe I haven’t yet made up my mind about my absolute favourite as the album some days plays here on high rotation and I am truly enjoying it all.
I however have to admit that The Announcement with its slapping bassline, synth strings, Boom-Bap drumline, and it’s Lowrey style organ and synth flute backdrops, like an announcement of good news reaches down into my happy space and awakens a musical excitement in me.

In our lives, The Exercise we should practice daily is giving thanks, having a sense of gratitude and acknowledging our blessings and the positivity in our lives will set aside all negativity. That at least is the message I get from Nama Xam’s third Rap offering and final track on Instru-Mental.

In terms of instrumentation, structure and feel, The Exercise, definitely has some kinship to The Announcement. As a finale to what I can assure you is a great album that definitely crosses a number of musical boundaries, The Exercise not only consolidates the musical journey through the soundscapes of the album, but it also showcases Nama Xam’s skill as an MC.
His lyrics are not only celebrating the journey of healing but he’s reminding us that gratitude is also Instru-Mental for the start of healing.

You can get Instru-Mental by Nama Xam by buying it directly from him or via his Bandcamp page.

Nama Xam proves himself as more than just a rapper or poet, but as a truly versatile musician and his new album Instru-Mental is Fundamental Sonic Healing that will please music lovers across a spectrum of genres.

Follow Nama Xam on his Various Social Media Platforms & Find Links to More of His Music

What do you think?

Written by Ryan Swano

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