It took Asheru three years to reach this point. But there he was Wednesday night at Tropicalia on U Street NW, doing his best to explain the premise behind his much-delayed new album, Sleepless in Soweto. “I went over [to South Africa] this time and I’ve come to a different look at the world,” Asheru told a room of friends and supporters. “I’m just telling y’all, Africa is the future.”
Recorded as a “love letter to South Africa,” Sleepless in Soweto collects funk, soul, and throwback hip-hop to bridge the gap between Africans and African-Americans. “Gauteng” finds the D.C. vet longing for the country. The intercontinental tracks include “Funky D.C.,” which uses a buttery Afrobeat jam to salute the DMV: “Trinidad, Uptown, Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Southwest Waterfront, Benning Road, Minnesota, Sheriff Road, Brookland, Rhode Island, Saratoga…”
There are fun songs like “Clay Davis,” which cleverly salutes the fictitious Wire politician’s hilarious trademark: “For anybody still askin’ if Ash can spit, hit ’em wit the Clay Davis like ‘sheeeeeeeeit.'”
Sleepless in Soweto is out now. Stream the whole thing below.