September 1st marks many things for many people but for rapper, Rouge, it signifies something slightly cliche but still important - a new era.
Next Friday, Rouge and friends will be shutting down The Good Luck Bar in Johannesburg to celebrate her debut album, The New Era Sessions, which drops officially next week Friday (8 September).
Earlier this week, the rapper, whose real name is Barbara Wedi held an intimate listening session for select members of the media to introduce them to her debut album and the short film that will accompany it.
The last time I was invited to watch a short film by a rapper, I was highly disappointed by the fact that we were just shown three music videos back to back which were preceded by an intimate clip explaining the purpose for the project.
That is not a film.
Rouge on the other hand, remained true to her word and showed us an actual film named after the album. A screen play by a team consisting of Rouge, MacMillan Mabaleka, Harmony Katulondi, Rati Mofokeng among others.
The New Era Sessions film tells the story of a protagonist named Anamika (played by Rouge) who has something very important stolen from her by someone she trusted - an antagonist named Dr. B. Mushi (played by Atandwa Kani).
Each pivotal clip in the film is “narrated” perfectly by music from the album and the story has two music videos for Sheba Ngwan’o (produced by Wichi 1080) and Celebrity sandwiched perfectly in between the acting.
Rouge was very cognizant of the importance of technology in the modern age so she structured the compartmentalization of her album like an app (hence the android-inspired album art) with four main focal points:
- Old school
- Woman empowerment
Topics which all mean something to the rapper…
Old school tackles her love for old school rap despite her self-proclaimed status as a leader of the new school and there is no mistaking which songs fall under this genre as the beats are a dead giveaway.
Within The New Era Sessions, she interacts with the app which is voiced by a french woman. The app asks her important questions, like whether or not lyricism/lyrical prowess can co-exist with trap which is often seen as a sub-genre of rap in which rappers often mumble. The “app” poses this as a question which Rouge answers in song.
In the ‘Love’ section, Rouge shows off her singing chops while delving into some deep sh**.
Lastly, in the ‘Woman Empowerment’ section, she tackles topics such as the judgement we pass on so-called Instagram baddies (often labelled ‘thots’ in the world of hip hop), how women do not listen when men are upfront about only wanting casual relationships and lastly, a question she never wants to answer again: the question of being a “female rapper” in a male-dominated game.
Up until this point, she has only put out singles and featured on tracks with other rappers.
Based on both the short film and the album, it is safe to say that Rouge put a lot of thought and effort into her first offering. She put her all into it in order to leave a lasting mark on the first major step in what is hopefully set to be a long, illustrious career.
You can join Rouge as she celebrates The New Era Sessions next Friday alongside the likes of Sho Madjozi, Ayanda MVP, DJ Doowap and more.
The New Era Sessions film will air on MTV Base next Thursday, 7 September. The album will drop the next day, 8 September and will be available online and at all good music stores plus you can also pre-order it on Apple Music.
Main image credit: instagram.com/ @rouge__1