“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.”William Inge
When Stogie T announced his new EP, Empire of Sheep, he mentioned that the project is an apogee of countless hours of conversation between him and his mother, an ex-guerrilla fighter with Mkhonto WeSizwe. Yes, it is that, but not in a way that most would have expected. Perhaps fans and critics were expecting a textbook style EP enclosing lectures of the history of South Africa. However, that is not what Empire of Sheep is.
Empire of Sheep covers a lot of ground, beginning with Kill the King – a classical statement from Stogie T claiming his kingship and scripting an exemplar of how to take him out. Kill the King goes for no blunders, clear to express Stogie T’s knowledge-base underscored by the use of skits from; playwright and novelist William Inge quote, fictional character Amsterdam Vallon quotes spoken by Leonardo DiCaprio and an Arabic verse. Strikingly similar to Amsterdam Vallon, a character from the movie Gangs of New York, one; Stogie T worshipped his father and he is “drawn to his life’s breath like the Joker needs Batman” as expressed in song number 6, Sins of Our Father. Two – Stogie T’s father died at the hands of the enemy, what the rapper states as “apartheid operations erased” in his [not included] single, Son of A Soldier.
As would be expected from such insightful type of projects, allusions of anger can be felt on the solemn song PTSD. Highlighting how we are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; Stogie T recalls a raid by the army taking place back in 1982 and the solitude he experienced after. PTSD expresses further the effects of such and more terrifying events speaking on; unemployment, lack of empathy, protests, self-medicating and more. However, songs like; the sonically climaxing Love and War and the exit song, Strength reminds us that we are kings and queens and we should have strength and wisdom to ensure and know that we are not led by sheep.
Contrasting the song, The Last O.G. featuring Ason against the rest of project, Stogie T proves his ability to blend the new and the old, a skill tracing back to his evolution on his 2016 solo debut album, Stogie T. However, while The Last O.G. attempts to bring some freshness that similarly styled songs brought to Stogie T the album, the song feels quite out of place in Empire of Sheep, from its content to the beat. Other than that, the songs are stunning, captivating and rather tempting to lounge to and keep on repeat. A cherry on top, to bring something new Stogie T carefully selected only relatively known guest appearances who are on their rise enlisting; DJ P-Kuttah, Ayanda Jiya, Lucille Slade, Ason, and Brittney Melvin.
Unlike his self-titled debut album with instrumentalization that delved more into the now mainstream elements, the new 8-track Empire of Sheep EP is ironically novel – it being a heavily 90s Hip Hop influenced project. It is important to mention that; across all his significant projects, and since the Tumi and the Volume times, Stogie T has managed to remain consistent with providing critical insights into real-life matters through his music. Empire of Sheep makes no exception. In fact, on this project Stogie T appears way more nurtured and resolute in his; beat selection, and priceless and timeless delivery.