Here’s what Thembi Seete says in Boom Shaka hit, Its About Time

Image: Boom Shaka
Image: Boom Shaka

There can be no more deliberation or debate – this is officially what Thembi Seete says in her Boom Shaka verse for “It’s About Time”

In an op-ed feature for Sowetan, Lil’Hussil details his definite lyrical breakdown of Thembi Seete’s “It’s About Time” verse.

One of South African music’s legendary musical mystery, most fans have consoled their curiosity by vying to agree that the nonsensical “You gotta sneeze the knees and disease” is probably it. If you’re ready to have your entire childhood rewritten, here are the bars the Queen Thè Thè is set to have actually dropped back in the 90s.

Thembi Seete AKA Thè Thè:
Oh yeah! This the time for Boom Shaka
No need to boo me
It can do something for you
‘Cause yeah, Thè is the place and I’m gonna kick the roster
I break it, I kick, I hit, hard yeah
That’s how Boom Shaka does yeah
Ah! Aha! Check check this out
I’m a soul
The radical
The typical
The extra-ordinary woman
Phenomenal
My weapon is my word
And I’m pissed like that yoh
I’m pissed like that yoh
I’m pissed like that yoh
Aha! Don’t let people ever tell you to do what, (yeah)
Ask for something in nothing and nothing goes to you
You’ve got to cease the needs that disease with ease
And lets get busy yoh with my gift
What you think about this Lebo
(About what Thembi?)
Bringing young African rap, Lebo
You know their lies and their big yap cause
And the rhymes that I get from the caricatures they sketch
When I step in their area they’re always scared
So, what’s up Lebo?
(Oh yeah! The way you tell me is the way it is Thembi
They way you tell me is the way it is Thè Thè)

But there has been more than just a disease that makes one sneeze their knees out that has boggled Boom Shaka fans’ minds. What does “I don’t know what can I do with myself” even mean?

Lil’Hussil goes on to further explain that it’s just a case of musical grammar and normal speech grammar conflicting.

Take for example Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”. The comma in between “woman” and “cry” is the difference – but you can’t actually hear the comma in the melody. So, if you don’t know, it sounds as if Marley’s saying without women there’d be nothing to cry about. Apart from all the sexists who probably mean it to sound this way, what the song actually is, is a direct conversation to a woman. It tells her, “No, woman, don’t [no] cry” or “…no cry[ing]” coz “everything is gonna be alright”.

Similarly, there’s some punctuation that you can’t hear in Thembi Seete’s melody. Full stop or hyphen – pick your Bic – but something would [in speech grammar] ordinarily come between “know” and “what”. That would make it, “I don’t know. What can I do with myself?” And that needs no explaining.

Head on over to Sowetan’s website for the full feature.

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