On Sandiso Ngubane's breakout EP, Believe the Bloom, the non-binary rapper reflects on life as an outsider in a world that largely negates their existence.
The five-track effort was released under Ngubane's moniker M(x)BLOUSE, pronounced "Mix," and a gender-queer edit on their previous artist name, Mr Blouse. Born in Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal, Ngubane has since become Joburg-based, using this honest new EP as an outlet to unpack their memories and explore the power of self-love.
"Believe the Bloom, as a title, encapsulates a lot of what I talk about in the music, from feelings of rejection in love, and in the social context as a non-binary person," Ngubane said of their EP, produced in collaboration with Joni Blud and Thor Rixon. "There's also a lot about the self-censorship that one does as a direct result of feeling inadequate, or even invisible."
Throughout their life, Ngubane recalls never comfortably fitting into categorizations--neither boys nor girls--and would only indulge in hip-hop as a spectator, writing rhymes in private. "Even as a professional, in my work, I've always kind of felt like an outsider, and I've never felt quite fulfilled," they said. "Believe the Bloom is essentially about growing to accept myself and to embrace who I am. Without doing that, I doubt anyone can reach their full potential."
Their independent debut pairs deeply personal reflections against commentary on the chaotic outside world, tackling everything from global politics to race relations and rapidly developing technology. Believe the Bloom is packed with references to powerful Black trailblazers, including Caster Semenya, Marcus Garvey and Mandela, and sees Ngubane rapping about the patriachy, letting go and defining themselves outside of social norms.
On EP opener, "Only Words Are Perfect," they discuss being young in the face of structural racism; "Love Was A Lie" centers on learning to free yourself of failing relationships, while "I Got Game" sees Ngubane embracing themselves despite the pain. "The Gift," an EP standout, is a positive anthem to remind you "the life you want to live is within reach," and on "WTF Squared," Ngubane recalls a party full of toxic cisgender "fuckboys."
"Through all these daily struggles we often internalise," Ngubane said. "I think it's always about knowing yourself, finding the determination and will power to not be distracted or derailed, and to claim what is a very simple birth right--the right to be free, and to manifest your dreams, or even to simply exist."
Listen to M(x)BLOUSE's EP opener, below, and stream all five Believe the Bloom tracks, here.
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Creative Direction: Bee Diamondhead
Photography: Aart Verrips
Grooming: Orla Meiri