Masego Drops Long-Awaited Self-Titled Sophomore Album
On March 3rd, Jamaican-American musician Masego released his self-titled sophomore album! His first full length project since 2018’s Lady Lady, Masego sees its namesake going through his life as best he can. From the interpolations and references to other songs that are sprinkled throughout the tracklist to the tonal shifts within songs – from romantic to humorous, from nostalgic to timely, from smooth and sultry to… well, that tone doesn’t really shift all that much – Masego is a 44-minute autobiographical “story so far.”
Right from the beginning, “Black Anime” sees Masego making references to Miyazaki, J. Cole, and “The Cha Cha Slide.” He opens the song and the album asking if we want to hear about last night, and then proceeds to give us his whole life story. The lyrics throughout this album are full of excellent lines and the occasional head-scratcher, but as always with Masego, the music and the production is where he tells his story the best.
The centerpiece of this album is either “Two Sides (I’m So Gemini)” or “You Never Visit Me.” As I write this, I’m leaning towards the former, but the latter does have a compelling case. The case for “You Never Visit Me” as the centerpiece is that the pain Masego feels from his ex at “seat number four, table three,” has given way to subtle braggodocio and boasting. The hook has that cry for connection, and the verses tell the complete story. Two perceived opposites can be true at the same time, and that is where “You Never Visit Me” meets the crux of Masego.
However, the same can be said about “Two Sides (I’m So Gemini).” Towards the end of the first verse, Masego claims he is “a real-life villain … but I’m a good guy.” There is a bit of a stigma that surrounds Geminis’ perceived dual personalities, but Masego lays out it out plainly: “Two sides, choose your fighter.” Which is my main takeaway from this album.
There are plenty of contradictions existing on this album with regards to Masego’s prior works, and there are contradictions within Masego as an album. But that’s the point. Masego wants to show exactly what has influenced specific songs – “The Cha Cha Slide” on “Black Anime,” “Tom’s Diner” on “What You Wanna Try,” etc. – because of the way he has shifted their tones. This album focuses less on Masego’s saxophone (it’s still there, don’t worry) and more on the guitar, which is evident from the album’s cover art.
This album also has more of the Cab Calloway influence than some of Masego’s other works. There are more layered vocals, vocal hooks, and all-around “band leading” from Masego. All he needs to fully complete the transition is more call-and-response. While Masego has often cited Cab Calloway as a guiding force, Masego sees him pulling in that spirit more than before.
While my initial listen left me a bit confused and slightly disappointed, my repeat listens have shown that not only is Masego a master of album sequencing – this thing flows seamlessly from song to song – but it is also for very specific moods and times of day. Looking to jumpstart your morning without being too aggressive? Masego. Looking to spice up your love life in the evening? Masego. Looking to brood by yourself in the evening because you’re just that kind of person? Masego. (That’s not a judgment, either, I fall into two of these categories. And no, I won’t tell you which two.)
If you’re looking for an entry point, I say with complete sincerity to start with either “Black Anime” – the intended start point – or “You Never Visit Me.” Why would I recommend track twelve out of fourteen as an entry point? Because it’s the most like Lady Lady, and if that’s where you’re coming to this project from, you missed a couple of releases, but it’s where you’ll find the best entryway into this new style.
Overall, I would definitely recommend listening to Masego at least twice start to finish. The second listen is where things really started clicking for me. Check it out at the link below! If you’ve already listened, though, let us know what you think!