In this Asylum album review, we dissect the 7-track project from Uncle Waffles. On paper, an Asylum is an institution meant for the cognitive misfits of society and frankly, the poetic correlation between the above definition and Uncle Waffles’ latest Sophomore project is far from ubiquitous- On ‘Asylum’, the South African disk jockey recruits in total, seventeen music collaborators- each whose unique artistic delivery and style play fundamental roles in the formation of her sonically thriving ‘madhouse’ – a list that includes heavy and frequent collaborator, Tony Duardo.
In 2022, Uncle Waffles and Tony Duardo would create ‘Tanzania’, an Amapiano song that served as the former’s breakthrough hit. ‘Tanzania’ was a colossal success and it spawned ‘Red Dragon’; Waffles’ debut extended play.
Since ‘Red Dragon,’ the Invigorating disk jockey has been touring the World, enjoying her newfound celebrity whilst winning hearts across other African and European countries- further increasing her fan base in the process.
The Amapiano DJ’s rise has been inimitable, a phenomenon that could be accredited to social media – barely a year of mainstream success and Waffles already bagged a Disk jockey and host residency gig with BBC, an enviable feat; one in which many of her predecessors, some of whom have even played for decades, can’t boast of. Call it sheer luck, talent, grit, or whatever, one thing seemed certain, Lunghelile Zwane was a superstar on the rise.
Fast forward to 2023, and the Swazi native star adorns brighter- opening the year with a TikTok-propelled banger, ‘Yahyuppiyah’; the lead single off the seven-track record- a song that has quickly become the muse for various online dance challenges and as it is accustomed to many Amapiano songs, it features a handful of guest appearances, with the likes of Tony Duardo, Justin 99, Pcee, EeQue, and Chley each owning their craft.
With a solid backing such as ‘Yahyuppiyah,’ Uncle Waffles dropped her sophomore project in bewildering fashion- unannounced; like a group of bandits going about their business at noon- nobody saw the release coming.
The project kick-started with the lively and mid-swing ‘Sghubhuhandro’. The song isn’t necessarily looking to pick a brain as it does not feature vocals, with little or no harmony, and its dominant melody is a recurring chant- if anything, ‘Sghubhuhandro’ creates the ambiance for what is meant to be a psychedelic body of work.
The hit single, ‘Yahyuppiyah’ is next in sequence, the TikTok rave that came along with the song subtly does an injustice to how good the bop is, its sonic brilliance exceeds a short-form video appeal.
Uncle Waffles might have developed a knack for naming songs after Countries, last year it was ‘Tanzania’, and now she explores ‘Morocco.’ The title of the song is however a mystery as the song has nothing to do with the Northern African country, instead, it is surprisingly soul-uplifting with positive rhyme and poetry verses from talented female rapper, Milkiee.
Just like ‘Sghubhuandro,’ ‘SLS’ is minimal, repetitive, and almost raw enough to pass for Gqom- thanks to the sub-genre defining ‘log drums’ on the record that helps navigate it as Amapiano.
South African Music producer, Tony Duardo is featured on a total of four songs on the seven-track project one of which is ‘Angry Birds’- a melodic song that once again showcases the artistic chemistry shared between Waffles and Duardo. It also features underground acts like 3TWO1 & Optimist Music ZA.
‘Babiee’ sounds like an anthem if pushed well. The ‘Girlpower’ record is catchy thanks to the lilly, childlike and firm delivery of the female musical duo, Jelly Babies, and the production contributions of Tony Duardo and Chley.
Finally, Uncle Waffles closes the curtain with ‘Blue Tick’, fusing electronic piano, and kwaito vocal styles alongside melodic basslines. The record is a good outro to an averagely-curated project.
In summary, 'Asylum' is a good project but not necessarily better than its predecessor, if anything, it's decent enough to champion Uncle Waffles' claim as the next big thing in Amapiano.