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by Tyson Nemukula

InDuna’s Mixtape

by Tyson Nemukula

InDuna’s Mixtape

Superficially, you might imagine someone arriving from the African continent as a grown-up finding amusement in what are some mighty odd Aotearoan fruit varieties – feijoas, red-fleshed kiwifruit, nashi pears, tamarillos and the like. But South African-born Te Whanganui-A-Tara resident Tyson Nemukula, aka InDuna, is far from being the superficial type, as this Spotify mixtape to accompany his latest single, Strange Fruits, well illustrates. Taking a cue from one of Kanye’s lyrical illusions, InDuna uses the ‘strange fruits’ phrase to reference less-than-friendly strangers that he has encountered over his recent life. It’s a mesmeric track, rich in colours and textures, firm, fleshy, yet sharp with meaning. Try some now – we think you’ll find the flavours tangily rewarding.

When I was making Strange Fruits I often struggled to find the exact words to fit what I was wanting to say. The lyrics that made the most sense to me for this single ended up being from some of the songs on this mixtape. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which ones they are exactly… 

While this mixtape includes songs that directly inspired Strange Fruits, some are tracks that have played a role in making me the person I am today. Also, I just really enjoy them because I think they are amazing and their sonic quality is beautiful. 

Kanye West: Blood On The Leaves

This song is my anthem. You’ll see me singing it at the top of my lungs, beating my chest when it comes on. 

This song was me back when I was a teenager finding my identity within myself, especially with the big culture shock, moving to New Zealand from South Africa. It was me discovering the ‘who’ I was meant to be, and where I belonged in this country.

Today this song still holds a very special place in my heart. It sits at the heart of Strange Fruits where I acknowledge some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. I just love how Kanye sampled Nina Simone’s Strange Fruit, but took a philosophically different approach in Blood On The Leaves. He fitted it to his own narrative and made it his own, which gave me the confidence to use Strange Fruits to write my story. Kanye refers to “blood” as the pain people have put on his “leaves” referring to his life. In the same manner, I use the phrase “strange fruits” to refer to the “strangers” or “people” that I have encountered in my life.

And while this track takes me through my lowest lows, it’s not all a sad ballad as the intro of the song will show you. The song slowly builds to introduce a powerful trumpet sequence that gets played frequently through the rest of the song. Just that part is enough for me to believe I can triumph over all my problems, that I’m bigger than all these issues I’m facing right now. It’s my walk in pride and power. It’s like I’ve reached the top.

The sample of Nina Simone that can be heard poking in and out every so often is like the small, worried, sometimes depressing thoughts in my head dragging me down, but each time that trumpet sounds it blows them all away.

Phodiso: Respeck

The African influence in Respeck really speaks to me. The poem that starts the song just slaps. When I started to get serious about music, this track gave me more confidence to go in towards the direction I’m currently going. I loved the way African culture is integrated into the hip hop element of the song. I was so inspired by it and felt it was not only something that could be cool to try out but something I wanted to focus my music on. It sparked my interest in creating an experience for listeners that possesses my personal cultural heritage and influence.

Sonically, this song grooves. I feel that the delivery of the rap is done really well. I find that the hums remind me of Kid Cudi although with a softer tone. In a non-overpowering way, Phodiso has the vocals sitting on top of the track with the catchy bass line and hums leading the song.

Raiza Biza, Remi, Baro: Runner

I just love the energy of this song. It’s got that old-school hip hop kinda vibe going on and with that continuous synth melody behind the vocals, it’s a recognisable track anywhere. You’ve gotta be bopping your head to this one.

I also love the message I get from the lyrics of Runner. The whole idea of having pride in being exactly who you are and feeling dope – like saying I’m the man. I guess it ties in with the message of Strange Fruits in terms of being shamelessly you despite being told what you should or should not be. I got a lot of that when I was learning to adjust to living in NZ and deciding who I wanted to be.

I really relate when Raiza sings the lyrics, “My Mumma never let me say I can’t,” because it takes me back to a time when I was young and back in South Africa, and how I was always told that anything is possible. I believed it. I just had to work harder than most because I wasn’t starting where everyone else did.

Six60: Sundown

This song is one I’ve been jamming to for the last two months. It’s such a vibey song that puts you in a good mood. It takes me to summer, the Christmas holidays, and great hangs with friends.

The biggest stand out for me and thing I love is the synth/vocal FX melody heard right at the beginning of the song, with the cheerful uke that’s heard throughout. The slow build-up following the motif at the beginning with the FX rise is real dope, along with the percussion that starts as the first verse is sung. The way they made it is so nice and simple, and it creates such a perfect scene.

The lyrics, “I never wanna leave,” spoke to me in the way of staying in one place and fully taking it in. Not taking anything for granted. I think being content with where you are and what you’re doing sometimes is really good. You’re not constantly looking for the next big or new thing, but absorbing everything around you as it is.

Riiki: Share Your Luv

Share Your Luv feels almost like a special mention. I think it’s such a catchy song, with one of my favourite parts being the synthy, techno-esque part that comes in towards the end of the chorus. I find Riiki’s voice possesses an almost playful character in that she isn’t afraid to try different things with her sound. I actually studied with Riiki at university and I’d say her personality matches her fearless approach to music. She brought out such a bop with Share Your Luv, among several others, and it’s been so cool seeing her grow into the artist she is today.

I love how it’s becoming more common to see familiar faces in the music scene here in NZ. I’m excited to meet people like Riiki again, who I’ve studied or worked with, and see all the amazing work they’ve created.