Hailing from the coal-mining town of Witbank/eMalahleni in Mpumalanga province, east of Johannesburg, prolific producer Roque is getting his time in the sunshine with this debut release, Lockdown, on Sony’s House Afrika imprint.
Roque (aka Sibusiso Mtsweni) cites the likes of MAW, Julian Jabre, Mr. V and Trancemicsoul as influences - and they can be referenced in his deeply cyclical productions. He’s also got an ear for a decent tune though. On Lockdown these songs are cemented by the soulful vocal styles of Canada’s Jaidene Veda on ‘Wanderlust’ and American Kenny Allen on ‘This Moment’, among others, who lend poise and gravity to this disc’s dancefloor pull.
For his part, Roque has already captured the esteemed ears of Stephanie Cooke, George Levin and Holi M – all of whom he’s collaborated with - and on this album he demonstrates why. Full-length house music albums can be hit-and-miss but Roque maintains this hour-plus disc impeccably - perfectly balancing his patented ‘Deep Afro Soul’ style. Standout tracks include the soulful ‘Impahla’ featuring vocals by Dineo, the tribal sounds of ‘Our Ancestors Are Calling’ and a collab with SAMA-nominated Da Capo with the witty title ‘Tech This Out’.
The album is finished off by ‘Tarzan (A Tribute to Ame)’, which sums Lockdown up - it’s poised, far-reaching, polished and poignant – fitting credits for a fine debut that will appease fans of Mzansi house music, although some aficionados might find the release a little thin on fresh ideas, especially on over-repetitive tracks like ‘Hey’.
Buy the album from iTunes here and take a look at the CD launch in his hometown in the video below.