Sandra Nankoma’s Mercedes could be a song that says a lot about her musical journey.
It’s a song that has been in the works for about three years, first released with a different production treatment and finally on the album with a more condensed slow tempo work by producer David Felgeirolles.
In many ways, the song, the message and style says a lot about the artiste; singing about a material girl that only associates with the rich, Nankoma almost taps into the world of a slay queen, one in between a relationship and confusion.
In many ways, it is easy to call Nankoma herself a slay queen – the difference is that she’s a rare specie that doesn’t follow jazz as a fad, she could actually be that slay queen that appreciates the genre beyond the annual Jazz Safari and even know lyrics to songs like Peggy Lee’s Fever.
The genesis of Mercedes was a jazzy feel that capitalized on her best instrument, the bass guitar, snares and the piano – her spoken word came in strong – it was the first time some people heard her go hard on words, luckily later that year she alongside Rashida Namulondo and Linda Nabasa gave us an all girl theatre production that used poetry as a vehicle.
The new Mercedes may come off as an out cast off her new Y’enze album but still has elements that stay true to Nankoma especially after she suddenly dumped the moniker Sandy Soul.
Of course it presents the slay queen part of her and then the slay queen she’s not, and in a twist of events, for a girl that has always been heavy on instrumentation, Mercedes goes minimalist in a way.
This song mostly uses Michael Avron’s skill on the guitar, with a minimal use of drum – the song takes a slower tempo that at the beginning makes you believe they will attempt to take it to church.
They never take the song to church but at least the change in the keys almost gives the song a different feel and sells you a different dimension of a girl that started sewing this whole career together with cover songs at Jazzville, Silk Liquid and Alliance Francaise among other places.
On an album with strong material like Babylon, Kaddugala and diverse spoken word pieces, Mercedes may not be the best but says more.
It says more of how the artiste works and how good she can sound even when stripped and of the different direction her journey may take whether on a different album or on the presentation of Y’enze.
And the positioning, it’s the tenth song out of the twelve songs on the album – most of the times the last songs on the album communicate things like direction and future prospects, in some cases, the last songs are ways artistes tell the world that whichever song people are experiencing is deliberate but there are other styles they can nail.
But in most cases, they are a snippet into the future, remember Bebe Cool’s Go Mama, ending with Tokota, a useless song infused with Nigerian styles and drum beats – almost three years later, Bebe has over five songs with the Nigerian influence or the lines on his Byebyo, the second last song on the album- he says “Byebyo, babisuddewo tulondeko…” and years later, he drops songs every month for us to pick what works……lol.
We can’t be sure if Nankoma’s placing on Mercedes was deliberate but whether it was accidental or deliberate, in it’s current form, the songs shows us what the artiste may still be keeping under wraps for future inspiration.