In the middle of the continent of Africa is the richest country on earth. The DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) has some of the most precious raw minerals and materials known to man. This one country is responsible for almost all the worlds coltan, a rare mineral that is used primarily for the production of tantalum capacitors. These capacitors are used in almost every electronic device in the world (even the one you’re using right now to read this) making the Congo’s coltan valuable beyond measure to big corporations. The country has been plagued with nefarious bureaucrats and tyrannical warlords who govern large portions of the country and are sometimes puppets used by corporate powers to guarantee access to the exploited resources. This insures the Congo remains impoverished and ridden with violence and disunity. But through all the misery it’s still the home of one of the greatest pan African leaders to grace the soil of Africa, Patrice Lumumba. Its people are resilient and have always documented their lives with music. It’s also the birthplace to the most infamous chant in boxing history “Ali Bumaye”. A Lingala phrase used by the Bantu people that translates in English to “Ali, Kill Him”. Coined during the 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle”. Buma meaning “To kill” and ye meaning “him”.
7,641 miles away from the DRC is a people that resemble the Bantu tribes of DRC in multiple ways. They are rich but simultaneously poor economically, just like the people of DRC. They helped make their country wealthy beyond imagination with their labor and innovations yet are impoverished and governed by crooked politicians who often believe in a insidious ideology of white supremacy. Afrikan people in Mississippi gave the United States two of its greatest exports, cotton and music. A rising Mississippian from the capital city Jackson (the second blackest city in America) with a name connected to the Lingala language is following tradition by giving the world one of his greatest pieces of art. Coke Bumaye’s LP “Nobody Owes Me Nothing”, is an ode to the struggle that one goes thru to achieve greatness. The intro starts with a unrecognizable sample that seems to be in reverse over a hard snare, acute hi hats, and 808s. Coke waits no time attacking the beats with punchlines like “I’m ahead of my time the signs I couldn’t falter. I been on 2020 my nigga no Barbara Walters and watch how niggas alter like loose suits. The truth (?) Stand up nigga like Bruce Bruce.” It’s almost as if Coke is sitting you down and explaining the rules of life with the gems he gives on this tape. Lines like “A man makes decisions and live with them like roommates. Busy. I couldn’t find time to loose faith“, are so thought provoking they are impossible to skip without reflecting on first. “Children’s Face/ No Man Above the Program” gives a triumphant feeling to the listener. Coke talks about the grind that can be almost brutal at times for an upcoming artist and how to deal with the self doubt with bars like, “I cried in that hotel thinking bout them mixtapes. Looked in that mirror said nigga get yo sh!t straight. Can’t nobody break us cuz can’t nobody make us. All the sh!t we lived thru is all the sh!t they make up.” Soulful tracks like “The Real Back”, “Waaaay Up” “Sleepless Nights” and “Long Nights in the Studio” give inspiration while tracks like “Communication Interludes”, “Street Gospel”, and “Bang and Boom” supply wisdom. “All I Need” featuring Savvy brings a real hip hop feeling to the album while “Save Your Goodbyes” allows Coke to delve deep into his past and express his inner thoughts over the profound “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” sampled instrumental. “Sometimes when I ponder. Thinking bout Rhonda or standing in that church in them air brushed shirts wit her smile on it. But that’s somebody child on it. We was hurting but still we put style on it” shows a more vulnerable side of Coke. He continues to bring the listener closer when he saids, “How could you break the rules that we made up. When them the same rules that made us. We was raised up. It wasn’t comfortable. Felt jealousy looking at the Huxtable’s.” “On My Soul” is a great ending to the album and finishes strong with the last words being “Did this without a handout.” Which is perfect for the underdog from Jackson that’s quickly rising without any major label support.
Like Muhammad Ali in 1974, Coke is running with the people. He is the underdog in so many ways and people have counted him out even though he’s showed time and time again he can handle the fight, just like Ali. With his EP “If You Love Me Let Me Know” and his singles “Play”, “Separate”, and “Purpose” and a host of guest features under his belt it’s impossible to say that the body of work isn’t there. This tape with one listen grabs you and takes you on a journey like no other. It won’t be long until the world catches on just like the “Rumble in the Jungle” of ’74, everybody will be chanting but instead of Ali it’ll be “Coke Bumaye”. Now you know.