Goya Gumbani – Truth Be Told EP

Words by Daniel Farrell

New York born, London residing. This combination of two of the most culturally explicit cities has birthed an allover raw artist. Plucking essences from New York’s boom-bap era of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Goya Gumbani has managed to delicately craft a style like no other. His effortless East Coast dialect meets contemporary-soul beats on his latest EP – Truth Be Told. It’s an attempt to reimagine elements of boom bap and soul, and Oliver Palfreyman, who produced the entirety of the project, has more than succeeded in assisting Goya on this venture. It’s a match made in heaven for fans of tranquil, almost meditative rap, but does have it’s more frantic moments. 

The EP’s opener, It All Depends, blends a mixture of sampling with understated drums and snares, where the subtlety of production allows Goya to lay down a sleepy series of verses; Sleepy but pacey. It sets the tone for the songs to precede. 

We roll into track two, Signs*, which utilises the more typical brass we’d associate with Goya. An integral harmonic is set by this brass, around which sits more underlying percussive elements.

“When the elephants fight, it’s the grass who suffers” – Signs*

The emotionally driven verses speak of signs directing Goya on a journey. He’s happy to take us along for the ride. As the song draws to a close, the production takes a different route, slowing down into a lull. This allows for a clearer and more precise delivery from Goya. It’s fitting, as the halfway point in the EP, track 3, Fight For Love runs at a similar pace. 

Featuring the siren-type melodies of George Riley, the gentle prelude presents Goya an opportunity to discuss his visions of love, and why it’s worth fighting for. The pace stays relatively equal throughout, with more instrumentation layered slowly, such as strings and a swirling harp undercut towards the end. It’s a delicately put together piece, which speaks to all sects of life chasing love. 

I mentioned earlier of the slight franticity which is present in the EP. The 4th song, Ways of Mine takes this on board. In terms of flow and style, it’s similar to previous tracks, it’s the production which lifts the mood somewhat. A series of half-looped keys present the bassline, to which more twinkles are added. The song ends with a lovely quote from an unknown source.

“The truth is that… you are either here to enlighten, or discourage”.

The penultimate track, Hither Green, opts for a keys led beat with much stronger percussion than we’ve seen previously. We also have an alluring female voice sampled at key moments in the song. Hither Green, to those who don’t know, is an area of South East London where we presume Goya takes residence. It features Elijah Maja, who offers a neat and slow approach to the back end of the track. The words seem to flow effortlessly in a dulcet fashion. Definitely the sort of song you could roll a lil sum’sum’ to and enjoy alone.

The final track of the EP is titled Sista Taught Me. It’s quintessential Goya Gumbani, in the sense that it’s over before it’s even begun. Goya is more than unique with regards to his use of language – He allows the listener to pluck what meaning they want from the wording he’s given. There’s seemingly no theme to most of his EP’s, which is an inventive way of putting pressure on the audience. It’s as though he’s saying “here it is, do with it what you may”. He’s always been a little cryptic in this regard, but we’re glad he’s releasing more fresh shit for us to dissect.


Follow Goya Gumbani – https://www.instagram.com/goya.gumbani/