20 Jan 2022

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Scalper - Single Review: Silence Speaks

24 Jul 2021 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Hard to believe it’s been seven years since I heard my first Scalper track My Blood Your Blood. Harder to believe it was only last year I reviewed Scalper’s The Beast & The Beauty. I don’t need to tell anyone how long this year has felt.

Yet after seven years, I’m still not seeing the recognition every track I’ve heard from Scalper thus far deserves.

You can’t heap this music in with the seven-cents-a-dozen “hits” the collectively unconscious masses are told is the soundtrack to their lives. Maybe that’s the problem. 

There is still nothing like Scalper’s dark trip-hop being made around here. No one has the attention span to explore his introspective beat poetry. Even if Mr Shafi played the scramble for Spotify playlisting game the other acts are encouraged to play to be played, would anyone truly listen? You'd think being a clown at a funeral would get you attention. Instead it gets you ignored.

Well, I've listen. I hear you, Mr Shafi.

Part of the beauty of Scalper’s lyrics, poetry in general, is that the meaning can be subjective. The interpretation different than the intent and different between listeners. We all have our own ears with their own experiences.

My first listen of Silence Speaks felt an inevitable desire for connection following lockdown contrasted with people avoiding each other for fear of a disease. In later listens though, I’m feeling more that the yearning is more for a connection to a mainstream that is yet to embrace Scalper. The one leaf blown from the tree and neglected.

I might have missed the mark entirely, pulling too much from my own experience as an invisible artist, but the accompanying video by Hendrikus De Vaan on Scalper’s YouTube reinforces this reading for me. Scalper videos are always unique and have a strong visual appeal, most notably Dust from their last album. Silence Speaks shows off the iconic New Zealand scenery of Te Henga (Bethells Beach) contrasted against Mr Shafi in clown garb. Towards the end, he releases his colourful balloons into the grey abyss, as he does with his songs, and washes his clown face off in the stream. No longer standing out. Looking like any other human.

Perhaps the intent was less shallow. Maybe the song was all about stripping back your layers and reconnecting with yourself all along. Does the intent mean more than the lesson you learn?

I understand and relate when he speaks the words “I want to be like them, be like bees”. The silence from fans when you release something different speaks volumes. Maybe if you were like the rest of the artists they hear every day, you’d get the attention you deserve.

But when you’re in a crowd you have just as much chance of being invisible and you lose the uniqueness that is the appeal, and strength of the music of Scalper. A strength that has kept my attention for the last seven years.

Keep being Scalper.

Five stars of five.

You can find Scalper’s Silence Speaks almost exclusively on Bandcamp.

I have my suspicions, and hopes, that this is a rebellion against Spotify’s model of convenience over credit. What’s the problem with Spotify you ask? Well, the $5 you pay to download Silence Speaks on Bandcamp is equivalent to 1316 plays on Spotify. Don’t want to pay an artist for their contribution to your life? Maybe you’re the problem.

I want to hear Scalper in another seven years, so I know which way I’m going to support Mr Shafi.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Scalper

Scalper is Nadeem Shafi, born and raised in East London of Pakistani descent. First seen in Aotearoa New Zealand at WOMAD 1997 as the vocalist for the British band Fun-da-mental. Now based on the wild West Coast of Auckland, having moved here in 2007. Scalper is Hip-Hop like you’ve never heard it before. Moody, gritty beats with introspective lyrics that conjure visions of epic proportions, and an electrifying live performance that demands attention.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Scalper


The Beast and The Beauty
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Want More
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Year: 2017
Type: EP
The Emperor's Clothes
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Butchers Bakers
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Flesh & Bones
Year: 2010
Type: Album

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