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Review Omali Themba – SBWL


Chris Theko

This being the first week of the first publication in the New Year, the review is taking a listen to the controversial song that crossed ushered us into 2022. Omali Themba dropped a song titled SBWL in late November of 2021 but only released it exclusively to radio stations, the song was so appealing to the listeners that they instantly voted it song of the year on a number of radio stations. 

SBWL is the second single by the artist in a space of two months following the release of Botle bo Bokalo, which was an instant hit in which he features Morena Sway.    

Officially released on November 30, 2021, the track runs for a good 3 minutes 38 seconds, and was built on 91 beats per minute (BPM), laid on a 16/16-time signature. 

Produced by Citizen Ls, the tune is about apologies and making up with the one you love. It is a romantic song with a strong message of love and remorsefulness, filled with praises of personification towards a lady in question whom the song is centered around. 

Initially it kicks off with a melodious piano chord and smooth percussions followed immediately by a hook from the artist. Though dubbed Afropop, the track is more of an RnB classic with an afrobeats touch sung purely in Sesotho throughout. 

The phrase SBWL which is the title of the track or the actual word being (SABAWELI) is slang from the isiXhosa language where it simply means to crave something or desire or want it. It is usually used in regard to things that one cannot have. 

Instrumentally, the song’s arrangement is built in a modern-day RnB sound, it is well orchestrated, with a world class production quality.   

The lead guitar strings are accompanied by the piano chord with some appearance of light percussions and bongo drums in the background and heavy towards the end of the song.  

The singer opens up the hook singing about how a certain lady is the one he wants even when he wakes up that is all he thinks about hence she is the one he wants and loves. 

“Nka tsoha pelo e tletse bokhopo, ke motho le ‘na ke etsa liphoso ×2 swbl swbl sbwl sbwl, ke rata uena ngoan’aka, sbwl sbwl sbwl senyamo ngoanaka, sbwl sbwl sbwl sbwl ke cho uena ngoan’aka.”

This is a story of a man who has made mistakes in the process disappointing the woman in his life now he is coming back to apologise because she is the one he wants. He says if he does not get her he might just lose his mind.  

The Sesotho wordplay used in the song from the first verse to the last is an example of pure talent in the songwriting capabilities of the artist. Already a gifted vocalist, Omali Themba’s songwriting and the entire production of the song make it indeed a song of the year classic.

Whether you are in a mood for romance of just chilling listening to your favorite tunes or even a Deejay at groove, SBWL is a song to add to your playlist.

SWBL rates at 9 out of 10.  

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