ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Block 34: The Tales of the Boujie Pantsula’ by Indigo Saint - Identity in a Secular Urban Society

Wrestling with Identity: An Exploration of Secular Culture Within Urban Society In ‘Block 34: The Tales Of The Boujie Pantsula album by Indigo Saint


indigo saint boujie pantsula block 34

Who are you? Where are you going? Where does it all begin?

In dissecting the ineluctable fundamentals of Indigo Saint, one of Bulawayo’s foremost rappers under the shade of Cottage 47, the answers to the above questions must come from within each individual, upon their patient [individual or collective] listening session. Block 34: The Tales of The Boujie Pantsula comes in as a handy, contemplative, and hearty guide as Indigo Saint explores the nuances of ‘burg life’, with all its upsides, downsides, and hopes. This concretely cogent body of work proffers the first answers with the opening track Yung King Tichala

We have been for the most part  defined by our actions, by what we actually do. But on deeper introspection, how are we defining ourselves? Or, how have we defined ourselves? We make our definitions of ourselves based on a small part of our totality. We are defined by where we live, what language we speak, religion or culture even. It is as if Indigo wants us to delve into the phenomenon of ‘limit-situations’ set forth by the legendary intellectual Paulo Freire. But, beyond where we are born and raised, beyond what language we speak, beyond how other people define and ‘other us—who are you really; who are we really?

Indigo Saints existential and material predicaments as gleaned from the vicissitudes of contemporary urban society are evident in the lyrics. And here he navigates a tricky trajectory musically; because one may feel Indigo’s stories require either lengthy songs or a second edition of the album. As Nas is doing with the King’s Disease narrative. In this, we feel the choice of instrumentals is too precise to be overlooked. The whole project is loosely tied around an account of three personas/characters—the boujie, the pantsula and the third persona, the hybrid, because he is not named. Except the boujie does not recognize the third character (the hybrid) because he feel he’s too pantsula; and the pantsula wont recognize the third character because shes too boujie. The whole album thus becomes a careful exercise to resolve these contradictions; it shows an Indigo Saint who’s reaching self-actualization levels which he feel deserve their rightful spot within the sphere of ZimHipHop. And in his arsenal are well-written lyrics and lush instrumentals that make him a priceless gem.

So, what defines you? Can you tell me WHO you are without telling me WHAT you are? 

Where Is Saint Going With This?

Firstly, hes grappling with self-identity, trying to identify that which is holistically unique and distinguishes him from everyone else. Modern culture and philosophy postulate that your identity is achieved, whether you’re secular, agnostic or staunchly religious. The task is reconciling the urban divides of social class and material wellness in advancing a progressive sonic consciousness for the urban youth, without running into the pitfalls of having an album devoid of a funky feel.

Second, he is tackling how communities force young kings and queens to behave in a certain way and to conform to whatever set of conditions/conventions/norms that apparently should define all of them.  Hence, he has to become the boujie pantsula, who must later metamorphose into some sort of a rapper who committed the proverbial class suicide. In an entertainment and music industry that is not as receptive to abstract forms of music art as other overstated simplistic forms, Block 34 will definitely remain confined to a niche audience. This however does not undercut Indigo’s fiery yet chilled intrinsic genius—he has a confidence that speaks for itself. Hence his elation over the album’s reception since it came out is overflowing, because he knows real music is really that priceless.

Boujie Pantsula—Ingenious Etymology

Boujie is anything that is perceived as upscale”, the new humanized euphemism for class privilege, elitism, and consumerism. There are tons of different origins and variations of this word: Boujee, Bougie, Bourgeois, Bougee. The word is a shortened version of bourgeois which has a French origin and used a descriptor for those families which are part of the bourgeoisie class. Just a fancy French term for upper-middle-class families. The bourgeoisie families were of higher status both in income and social, but not quite high class (because of class struggle the word has undergone fundamental permutations). This is in the strictest and narrowest sense of the word as perceived in this context—wherein we do not desire to be overly didactic by analyzing how bourgeoisie largely relates to modes of production, owners of capital, relations of production, base and superstructure (the oppressor class). It is bourgeoisie, as used by Indigo, which does not denote a mechanic and technical sense, but a generalized social sense as it relates to belonging and identity. It is for the expression of art.

Today, boujie is widely used in the black community in not-so-desirable ways (rightly or wrongly so). The term often holds a negative connotation and tone. Most commonly being called boujie is followed up with a You think you too good for.…” It elicits varying emotions in the underclass who are not boujie: envy, spite, resentment, admiration, fear, rebellion, etc.

In the same vein, pantsula is used to refer to the opposite of boujie in various instances. The way people say it, with a disdain drag to really kill your spirit is also similar to how boujie is used. It just depends on who is saying and what level of the social spectrum they represent. To the boujie, it elicits a desire to dominate and dictate stuff towards the underclass, the pantsula, yet the boujie know all too well that the lifestyle of the pantsula is something they would do anything for to experience.

Don't act like that  you're too PANTSULA to do ____.

Pantsula culture brought massive urban cultural movements to the streets of Africa with Kwaito dance. It was and still is a way of life for the inhabitants of [poor] townships and an expression of political and cultural issues. Art is a perfect vehicle for resistance, self-assertion, and solidarity.

The Tales of the Boujie Pantsula From Block 34

Indigo Saint brings out the perplexity of humanity when it comes to societal norms and identity. There are people who will put you in a bracket and cry foul when that happens to them. But if I grew up in the same neighborhood as everyone else (with the same exact conditions), then how are we different? In the final analysis, we are human beings. Equal. And art should not be restricted to social class or geographical provenance.

The new album Block 34 challenges all ideas about ourselves based on limitations someone else gave us. No one is born inferior. We learn those ideas from the people around us. Others around will never stop judging at face value. In essence, what Indigo poignantly shares with us without losing his soulful artistic feel that has characterized his hip-hop approach since the days of the Blunt EPs through to Portland 51 is that artistic solidarity and progress right now demands a conflation of all societal elements. The boujie pantsula, with a hybrid that has committed class suicide for the sake of art, thus emerges with a new radical approach for ZimHipHop.

It is worth noting how incredible Indigo Saint and Area 51 made the album palatable and running several other narratives at the same time. Taking weird things and putting them together into something meaningful. It’s a glorious manifestation that some, because of averse reactions to art that defies being simplified, may overlook. We see an Indigo Saint who asserts his kingship status without shying away from being vulnerable and outpouring an inflection of emotions grounded in tangible bars. Indigo Saint believes in his writing, complemented perfectly by his ethereal, airy vocals.

Some standout tracks include Yung King Tichala, Burg Famous, No Cap, Boujie Pantsula, Inauguration, Still Here, Hns Cypher, and Dlozi. We love the collaborations—Asaph, Brad The Dude, Mawiza, Bhekiwe, M.U.S.E., uSmokey Joint, Kbrizzy, and BilliusTheMajestic.


Stream the album Block 34: The Tales of the Boujie Pantsula by Indigo Saint via the Spotify link below:


Post a Comment