Chaka Nyathando, better known as Pompi, is one of Africa’s most gifted musicians of our age. He was inspired by griots like Oliver Mtukudzi (whose influence can be felt through Pompi’s music), the 36-year-old afro-soul, R&B, and hip-hop artist who has made a name for himself as an incredible vocalist, lyricist, and storyteller with a passion for entertaining, giving food for thought and bringing light to the world through his art. With four highly lauded albums under his name, Mizu, Become, Broken English, and Bwana, fans eagerly await what the singer-songwriter has to offer on his next project; his first after a four-year hiatus since 2019’s Bwana, an 11-track joint album with close friend and long-time collaborator Magg44.
The forthcoming album, Pole Pole, which Pompi announced via Twitter in November of 2022, with the words “Don’t rush something you want to last forever,” was followed by a music video for the first single off the album, ‘Strong Name,’ giving fans a taste of what to expect on the album.
Pole Pole, which means patience or slowly, slowly, has been Pompi’s most meticulously produced album yet. “I really took my time on this project,” the singer shared when I had the pleasure of speaking with him about his journey in creating the album. “Anything that requires true mastery requires patience and delayed gratification; you can’t build something that will last with instant gratification. I want to make an impact that lasts with the things I create.”
The 13-track album with patience as its central theme is inspired by books like James Clear’s Atomic Habits and the Stanford marshmallow experiment of 1972, the latter in which a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During the wait time, the researcher left the room for about 15mins and later returned with a prize for the children that didn’t eat their marshmallows.
In consequent studies, the researchers observed that the children who practised restraint and waited longer for the preferred reward tended to have better life outcomes.
“I didn’t try to rush the process. I had to remain true to the album’s name,” he tells us. “I approached this album a lot differently than I did my previous works. Instead of writing a full verse at a time, I’d do small things each day: I’d write one line today, another line the next, and so on, until I had something that felt complete. For me, the power was in consistency. We really took our time with this one, which made our recording sessions interesting, as these were some of the longest studio sessions of my entire career,” He laughs as he recounts. “We got to a point where we often stayed in the studio overnight so that we could get it right.”
For Pompi, Pole Pole feels like the most realized album the artist has ever done to date. Something he attributes to his current level of personal growth and being in a more comfortable position to allocate the right amount of resources to his work.
“For the first time, I think I have an album where I was able to imagine and actually have all the resources to bring to light everything I imagined,” He shared. “My previous albums were really good, but they weren’t always exactly what I imagined, as I wasn’t in a position knowledge-wise to be able to execute the things I’d imagine. I didn’t even know the people I could work with to achieve the things I wanted, but now I feel I’ve been able to get to where talents, vision, and resources align.”
Regarding collaborations, Pole Pole is promising to be Pompi’s biggest album, with over 35 musical geniuses on the production side of things lending their talents to crafting a memorable body of work. One that fans will be pleased to know revisits Pompi’s hip-hop roots while fusing different genres and sounds like kalindula into the mix.
“I missed hip-hop quite a lot. As some people might know, I started my career with rap and singing came later. For the longest time, I feel I was away from hip-hop, but in this album, I express a little bit more through it,” The singer tells us. “There was a lot of hip-hop on Mizu, less so on Become and Broken English. It was only right that I revisited my hip-hop roots on this album.”
As far as features go, fans can expect to see artists from Uganda, South Africa, the UK, the US, and Zambia. Names like Limoblaze, Esther Chungu, Matema, and CalledOut Music.
While every artist featured on the album brings a uniqueness to the project that helps make it what it is, Esther Chungu is definitely a stand-out name on the roaster as she’s not only a musical collaborator but also Pompi’s wife, as of April 2021, the artists tied the knot at in a beautiful outdoor ceremony.
Not only is Esther Pompi’s life partner, but she’s also his most prominent critic, as confessed by the artist.
“I think she’s my biggest critic. Nobody cares about my work more than her. And I’m the same way with her.” Pompi opens up about what it’s like working with his wife. “Esther and I always give each other honest feedback on each other’s work. Most especially on this album. Sometimes I’ll have an idea that I think is amazing, and she’ll tell me: ‘You can’t put that out,’ I would then consult with the team to discuss whether to keep it. Creatively, we’re always exchanging ideas. If I’m stuck on a line, or she’s stuck on a line, we help each other through it. It’s beautiful to be able to work with your wife. As an artist, there’s nothing better because we exist in the same world; she sees me for who I am daily. That’s not the case with everyone else cause while we may come together, we don’t exist in the same world.”
Pole Pole is set to release in March of 2023, with two more visuals promised to accompany the album.
Images by Druberg Studios and Atmosphere Nation