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Written bySaien Benjamin

Zuko The Don’s promising solo career continues to flourish with a touching track about suicide and mental illness

Most of us have dealt with the struggles of mental illness and have been troubled by suicidal ideation at some point in our lives. Despite the widespread nature of these struggles, it is still an uncomfortable topic for many. So it is really refreshing to hear Zuko speak in such a frank, open, and relatable way about his struggles with mental health. December 19 is a beautiful track that provokes a feeling of hopefulness despite its somber subject matter.

Zuko moves from the traumatic events of his suicide attempt to thinking optimistically about his future. As someone who has also experienced similar struggles with depression, it is amazing to hear him describe the progress he has made in the time since and the successes he has achieved. The instrumental progression from a slow, sadness-evoking sound to a more uplifting sound, punctuated by catchy drums and choir-like backing vocals which complement the lyrics perfectly. 

“Just find your own sound” – Zuko The Don

Zuko The Don is a brilliant lyricist with a laidback flow reminiscent of old-school hip hop but who still manages to make tracks that sound fresh and authentic. His raps never feel forced in the way of a lot of pseudo-profound “lyrical” rappers who rap fast just for the sake of being seen as technically proficient while negating flow and cadence. 

The Don’s lyricism is consistently meaningful and thought provoking, as he taps into a range of flows and vocal inflections on his first solo EP Anomaly”

He chose the name as he’s always felt somewhat on the outskirts and not been someone who has always fitted in easily, something he chooses to see the positives about.

 The EP is an exploration of his mind, juxtaposing the darkness and the light within, as he puts it “if other people connect then I know they feel helped by it”. Some of you may have already heard him rapping on a track with his group, the eclectic Cape Town 12 piece, Dank Neigbourhood. He has now branched out and begun to truly showcase his awe-inspiring talent as a solo artist.


As Zuko said during his Q&A “Just find your own sound” and he has certainly found a niche that works perfectly for him. He experienced a range of cultures in growing up between Pretoria, Gqeberha, and Cape Town which exposed him to a wide range of Hip-Hop music which influenced his musical journey and can be heard in his diverse sound today…

The Don released his first song at the precocious age of 15, whilst in Port Elizabeth, with his first group Red Johnz. After the group split up in 2014 he continued making music as a solo and released his first solo track,” Corleone”, in 2016. He has also collaborated with US-based Producer Vidal on the track “Out The East” which was debuted by UK radio station Kane FM, who called the duo one to watch out for. In 2020, during, lockdown he featured on his group, Dank Neighbourhood’s album “Anthropology”. The entirety of the album was recorded in a quaint cottage in Betty’s Bay, Including their biggest hit “Fifa 22”. He has since returned to his solo work, dropping his second studio single “Off The Top Rope” later in 2020. Prior to “Anomaly” the don also released the “Old Joints EP”, a collection of his older tracks.

I can’t recommend listening to “December 19” and the “Anomaly” EP enough, Zuko’s cerebral raps and introspective reflection on his experience will leave you enthralled. 

“Anomaly” features some of the best wordplay and lyricism I have heard from a South African artist in a while and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the Don’s promising solo career. Check out the EP as soon as you can on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube and Deezer

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