SOMA | "Rudeboi"
SOMA, the collaboration consisting of Zimbabwe born rapper Shumba Maasai and UK based producer Hermes, released “Rudeboi” which is to be the lead single on their latest project together TOTKO II, a follow up from their original collaboration EP together TOTKO back in 2016.
Shumba and Hermes are not only collaborative in music and both members of the creative collective Plus TRBE Recordings but are also friends who unify to spread their ideas and create content. Shumba as an artist focuses on speaking the stories and displaying the reality of African diaspora in the UK while producer Hermes skilfully hatches the ideas into whole pieces of work to create dynamic and powerful songs.
The duo’s new single “Rudeboi” specifically touches upon the lifestyle in the ‘western world’ more often than not being idealised but the song speaks that in reality it can be isolated and essentially fatuous compared to life in Africa. “Rudeboi” voices comments about life in the UK such as “West-End myth” and “I’m gon tell my brothers bout how it really is” displaying Shumba’s strong warning to Africans looking to move to the UK. In the process of creating the song, both artists fascinatingly used field recordings from both Europe and Africa to immerse their fans into the two cultures and to communicate their stark contrasts to one another through the sounds in the music.
Wanting to know more about SOMA and their uniquely formulated duo, we chatted to them about the new project TOKTO and their take on what the track really means.
Where did the name ‘SOMA’ come from for your collaboration? Why did you choose that name?
The name AM came from Hermes' mum actually. Referencing the potion drank in traditional Hindu culture for rituals to help people connect to the divine. We felt that that's what music does for people.
Why is the track titled ‘Rudeboi’?
It's called Rudeboi as a reference to UK street culture - it's about asking the question when it's time to take action will you be ready and when you follow a certain lifestyle it comes with certain things and it's posing the listener are you going to be ready to do what needs to be done.
What can we expect from your upcoming EP ‘Totko II’?
You can expect 4 solid tracks that have been carved and meticulously processed to give a full picture of the message of the record. Attentive production and soundscapes as well as hard-hitting real lyrics from the heart.
What was your creative process behind creating this track and the rest of the upcoming EP?
The record has been in the works since the first TOTKO came out in 2016 - some of the tracks are older than 5 years but it was about waiting to get the right point as a team to execute them in the best way possible. It's me and Hermes going back and forth on verses, arrangements and mixes.
How would you describe the nature of your collaboration and the music you have produced?
It's very much a collaborative project. Hermes and I have been making music together almost 10 years so we have this trust and understanding - he can chime in on a line and I can jump on the keys and play a lead in - for us it's just about getting the best possible sonic result.
Are there any particular messages you want to portray to your listeners with ‘Rudeboi’?
Rudeboi serves as warning to Africans maybe considering migrating to the west to let them know it has its own downfalls and also sharing my experiences in the UK.
What was the inspiration behind the visuals for the ‘Rudeboi’ video?
We wanted to tell the story of the track where a guy in London is trying to contact a guy in Africa to tell him about the realities of the western world and the pain he experiences but the guy in Africa does not believe and is not interested to hear that he wants to see for himself. Which is often the narrative in real life.
TOKTO II symbolises a shift, not just in time but in experience and diversification from the original TOKTO project from SOMA and serves as a natural progression from both artists.
As 2020 has served us some pretty peculiar circumstances, music isn’t all the pair have been occupied with this year. Shumba triumphantly launched a multi-sensory music exhibition in East London throughout the end of September to much remember ‘the ones that came before us’ in African art. While Hermes explored and refined his skills in sound design within film and advertising via Plus TRBE Productions and not long ago contributed to the production duties for UK rap artist Shaybos Daily Duppy, with both sidelines successfully expanding their talents in the arts industry.