Under Review

Zaki Ibrahim

Shö (District 6 Records)

Review By stage_left


Having spent a summer in South Africa a couple years ago, I had the chance to get a glimpse of the exciting music scene there, particularly the hip hop emanating from the country’s urban centers. I also got a chance to meet Toronto’s Zaki Ibrahim, who was down making connections with SA-based hip hoppers, singers and artists. Having spent part of her childhood in Cape Town, Ibrahim’s visit focused on writing and reconnecting with her roots and her family,
A couple of years later, Zaki Ibrahim is still working towards her dream, weaving politics and positivity through her lyrics, and performing in front of crowds across Canada and internationally. Flourishing in the uncharted space between defined styles, Zaki Ibrahim shows off many dimensions of her talent on her 2006 EP Shö. Sometimes accompanied by piano or acoustic guitar, more often singing over heavy hip hop beats, or beatboxing, scatting, and even experimenting with a sound reminiscent of Portishead, Zaki has a voice that can do it all. At no point does Shö seem overly produced, and the live tracks like “My Joy” are particularly raw.
Zaki bills herself as a woman of the world, 25 years old and tripping between four continents and three cities in particular: Vancouver, Toronto and Cape Town. This exposure to an array of influences, cultures and styles means that Zaki Ibrahim is a young artist with a unique profile, a powerful and soulful voice, and a freshness that can bring a tired ear back to R & B. In July, Zaki was in Vancouver headlining a show with South Africa’s Tumi and the Volume at The Plaza, and her performance, following on the heels of Toronto artist Isis, left the audience spellbound. It left me thinking one thing: The world is ready for Zaki Ibrahim. Bring it on.