THE CUTS reviews songs, videos or albums we think deserves your attention. The music covered are not genre and/or region specific. Once it is good, it would be reviewed here. THE CUTS is available every FRIDAY

Tulenkey ft Eddie Khae – Proud Fvck Boys

Tulenkey is surfing the good reception he has courted since the release of his single “Child Abuse”, a song that highlights the pressures and sexual abuse of men by females. As any smart person would do, Tulenkey has seized this advantage, and the outcome is “Proud Fvck Boys“. Declared by fans as a Christmas anthem,  snippets of the song surfaced online as his entry to Mr. Eazi’s , “Proud Fvck Boys” describes the behaviour of ‘fuck boys’ – guys who front for relevance.

Tuley didn’t only give us a hot, smoking single. He gave us a 10 track mixtape titled ”1/1″ in the process. Featuring both known and up-coming artists, Tulenkey exhibits his profound storytelling and rapping skills over afropop, afro-highlife and hip-hop beats. (His flow on “Forever 96” is impressive). Tulenkey has obviously cracked the ceiling with “Proud Fvck Boys”. The onus is on him to push harder towards national recognition.

Kwesi Arthur ft Shatta Wale – African Girl

Kwesi Arthur has showed us his hip-hop and afropop sides on songs like “Grind Day” and ”Can’t Keep Me Waiting”- with KiDi. Dabbling in dancehall was the missing piece to bring his versatility full circle. On Thursday, the young rapper released his latest single “African Girl”, a dancehall flavoured tune featuring Shatta Wale.

The song is a celebration of their “African Girl”, whom Kwesi Arthur describes as ‘bad pass Nicki Minaj”. The soulful vocals of Kwesi Arthur and the gruff tone of Shatta Wale’s renditions complement each other. Unlike his previous tunes that hit you the first time, “African Girl” feels like the kind of record that would grow on you over time. And oh, this video looks super crisp. Money dey talk!

Daney King Eli ft Ayat – Desire

Daney King Eli is one to watch. His tape ‘’GoRem’’ pitches traditional musical elements, life tales against today’s afropop sounds. “Desire”, a single from the album is an expression of a burning desire in taking the first bold step towards accomplishing his dreams, the challenges that lies ahead in this journey. ‘’GoRem’ is sub-titled as a traveler’s tale.

The KTO directed video shows Daney in his ‘natural’ setting: reflecting the culture, traditions and customs of his Ewe people. From wearing traditional garbs to seeing Ayat, featured on the hook, swimming at the base of a waterfall, Daney King Eli serves positivism and motivation through words and visuals.

Gafacci – Burna Boy Gbona Gafacci Remix

Gafacci is not new to adding his own spin on songs that he loves. The experimental producer has given Burna Boy’s ‘’Gbona’’ a new, exciting twist. Describing it as an unofficial remix, Gafacci increases the song’s BPM, layering it with dance/EDM elements while maintaining the song’s hook. This unofficial remix will get the crowd going in European clubs and at events.

Super Kelieb – Try

Life is all about strive: pushing through the challenges it present as you work yourself to success. For Super Kelieb, this reality isn’t lost on him. His missive is poignant and straight to the point: don’t give up on your dreams. The production by Hikari is solid, although a little synth on the hook would have added a layer of brightness to the tune. (The drum pattern on ” Try” sounds similar to R2Bees’ “Yawa Girl”). As the saying goes: life is how you make it. Success comes by trying. Super Kelieb is here to remind you.

JaH-Monte – If Halima- Kujali Could Talk

JaH-Monte, formerly known as King Callis is a Charlotte emcee whose song, ‘If Halima-Kujali Could Talk’ reflect the nostalgic 90s boom bap elements that mirrors those from the decks of Pete Rock and CI Smooth’s classic ‘They Reminisce Over You’. Together with Drew Prince, the song brims with a gorgeous saxophone loop. JaH- Monte enters the frame, delivering fast succession of rhymes to affirm his love for his city.


Strongman’s “STN” Is Cohesive, Short And To The Point.

To call Strongman (Osei Kweku Vincent) one of the best lyricists around won’t be a contestable claim. He has carved a niche for himself as a rapper gifted with the ability to construct rhymes filled with elements cherished by hip hop. Hearing Strongman rap over beat is listening to a battle MC at work. His lyrics are mostly fiery, ego fueling, and sometimes, intricately woven.

Following his win at the “Next Big Thang GH‘, a rap competition held in 2012, many thought that would signify the rise of Strongman to national prominence, earning him the spotlight as the next big thing (pun intended). A few singles and freestyles after, he got an opportunity with the potential of fueling his career.

His signing to Sarkcess Music, a label owned by Sarkodie, was presumed by many as Strongman’s ticket to stardom-or an opportunity to hasten that journey. Sparks of this intention were exhibited on songs such as the afropop numbers “Baby’ and “Transformer” featuring Kuami Eugene ‏ and his label mate Akwaboah. (On ‘Baby’, Kuami Eugene put out an imperious display. The singer bodied the rapper on that song, if you ask me).

As the clock on his expected breakthrough kept ticking, many wondered how involved Sarkodie is in his career- helping catapult him to the next level. Opinions split down the middle: whereas a section thought Strongman had more to do in that regard, some maintained Sarkodie should use his clout to help the young rapper excel within and outside Ghana. These arguments aside, Strongman got himself tangled in a subliminal rap exchanges with Teephlow. Although the incident was uncalled for, it did shine a beam on the two rappers, even if momentarily.

‘’STN’’ (Still That Nigga) is an affirmation of Stromgman’s credentials as a rapper. The EP is also to satisfy his fans who have questioned and wondered if he’d put a body of work anytime soon. Across the 7 tracks on the EP, the rapper makes these valid.

With features from Sarkodie and B4Bonah (on ‘Monster’), Akwaboah (on ‘Vision’), Worlasi (on ‘Paid My Dues’), Shaker (‘Paper’) and Kwesi Arthur (on ‘My Vibe’), Strongman attempts to make an EP that’s more musical than full blown rappity rap. Soliciting production from Jayso, Tubhani Muzik and KC Beatz validate this point with their trap and afropop influenced beats.

”Vision”, the EPs opener is a solemn musing by the rapper on his career and chasing dreams. The korg driven tune is handed a breadth of soulfulness by Akwaboah, who knots the theme of the song on the hook: ”we are singing our lines and hooks/we go go fishing ourselves.”. The breezy half of the song is replaced by hard drums over which Strongman serves his motivation speech: first, acknowledging his present circumstances, and his future ambitions. He further urges people to bid their time and rely on God for a better day. Beginning the EP with ‘Vision’ reflects the Ghanaian way of life where every activity starts with a prayer.

On songs like ‘’Dose’’, ‘’Monster’’, ‘’My Vibe’’ and ‘’Still That Nigga’’, Strongman supplement his lyrics with deserved braggadocios commentary about his talent, threats to competitors and his position within the rap game. On the Jayso produced ‘’Still That Nigga’’, he raps: ‘’they say my punch is hot, it’s in a food flask/no be Mercedes, chale I no dey see class/I make machines splash/ borla man apart from me all I see is trash’’. ‘’Paid In Full’’ featuring Worlasi has Strongman drawing a line in the sand between himself and other rappers. ‘’Paper’’ with Shaker throws light on the significance of money and why ‘one day, money never go be problem’.

It’s significant to point out that, STN is a cohesive offer: Strongman makes a strong case for himself to be counted and taken seriously as a lyricist. The EP scores high on song sequencing and production- the beats, despite being trap based are not repetitive and boring. Again, keeping the 7 tracks under 3 minutes (21 minute in all) means one can re-run the EP multiple times.

Strongman has proven his lyrical abilities on STN. The challenge for him is whether he can make a record that would propel him into the mainstream, and get noticed by more people; not just his fans and followers of rap music.

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AYAT Breathes Fire On “Stages”; Kwadjo SPiRi Offer Good Tidings On ” Benz”

AYAT – Stages

Ayat has been breathing fire all year. From guest features, video releases and performing at almost every event, the “GUDA” hitmaker isn’t slowing down.

“Stages”, a collaborative effort with GroundUp is his latest output. A fiery delivery meet a trap sound has the Madina boy cautioning all not to push him: woke up annoyed so don’t get me worked up, he bellows on the song. The video illustrate Ayat’s missive more succinctly: the donations, tigers, fires, a drowning man confirms his state of mind. The likes of Akan, Twisted Wavex, Daney Eli King make an appearance in the video.

Kwadjo SPiRi – Benz

Kwadjo SPiRi is among the few artists keeping hip hop alive in Ghana. Infusing samples with speaker wrecking drum and bass and lyrics that are full of ‘positive affirmations’.

“Benz”, his recent single reflect these hip-hop elements. SPiRi brings good tidings to the listener, reminding them to forge ahead in life: work towards buying that ‘benz’. (Benz is employed as metaphor for success). The rapper also reflect on his own choices, like quitting his job to pursue his passion on the song.

Ahead of the release of album “Okwantuni’ (Traveller), it’s recommended you listen to his previous tape ” The Fly EP”.

Listen/Watch Video For “Gatluak”; A Refreshing Sound From South Sudanese Singer, Nyaruach

South Sudan may not be known as a music hub on the continent. But this song is actually a bop. This is my first time hearing of a song by a South Sudanese artist. The riveting traditional instrumentation aside, “Gatluak” is a very poignant delivery- both in terms of the message Nyaruach is conveying and the soothing melody of the song.

Nyaruach highlights the prevalent issue of men ‘ghosting’ on women after having an affair with them. In this story, she narrates how Gatluak has refused to ”pick up my phone (calls) after you got what you want’, adding ‘you are such a bastard guy, I just want to say goodbye”.

For such cowardly display, she labels him a ‘boring man with no plan’. She, however, reminisces on the good times they shared during the courting phase, and the love he expresses towards her: “how you bought me cold drinks” and they walked “around in town talking about love among ourselves”

The life of Nyaruach – and her brother, Emmanuel Jal, also a hip hop artist, hasn’t been one of comfort. Separated by the war that ravaged South Sudan, the two finally met, after years of separation in Kenya. The two released ‘Gua’ (Peace), their first collaborative effort in 2005. The song became a hit in Kenya and gave Jal his major breakthrough. Jal, a former child soldier has since become an peace activist, with his sister, working at promoting women’s right in South Sudan.

“Gatluak” is the second single off their joint album, “NAATH” which translate as ‘Human” in the Neur language. The album is described as ‘a vivacious afropop album drawn from the sounds of South Sudanese villages’. The songs made by the two is heavily steeped in Neur traditions.

Nyaruach is using her experience as a refugee and a victim of abuse during the war period to challenge minds and impact attitudes of men while empowering young women in the process; an uphill task considering South Sudan is still a fragile nation which continues to backpedal into chaos despite efforts at bringing peace to the 7 year old nation state.

If music is a means to affecting lives, entertain and educate, then “Gatluak” serves both purpose. Nyaruach is on a mission to impacting lives. She deserves great support.

La Meme Gang Announces Presence With “Kemor Ame” Video

Days after releasing their full length tape, “Linksters”, La Meme Gang, the youthful music collective have dropped a video for their song “Kemor Ame” (Tell Them).

The video is a typical LaMeme Gang offering- it reflect their character and the bustling energy they display. The video has Darkovibes, KiddBlack, RJZ and Nxwrth (leads on the song), along with other members of the collective stepping to Nwxrth’s synths laden trap tune.

David Duncan, the director of the video fuses black-and-white shots, low colour graded scenes with exciting graphic aesthetics. The cast are seen leaning, hopping on cars and sitting on earth moving machine (a caterpillar). The choice of location -with its high tension poles- reflect the character of the song and hands the video a tone of ruggedness.

The standout of the video is the space-themed scene – where the moon and shooting stars float across the skylines. The scene is reminiscent of something from a Travis Scott video.

La Meme Gang’s “Linksters” is a 20 song long tape split down into two sides. Side A of the tape is is filled with trap heavy songs with Side B narrowing on afropop influenced tracks.

“Linksters” is the second full length project released by the music collective. The tape is available across various streaming sites.

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Everybody Dey Suffer: M.anifest Remind Us On “Suffer”

In 2011, M.anifest released his debut album to critical acclaim. ‘Immigrant Chronicles: Coming To America’. As the title suggest, the album was a narrative about his decade long stay in the US and his experiences following his relocation to Ghana. Made up of 16 songs, the album is truly hip hop in tone: sharp lyrics, well crafted beats, genre incorporating sounds. Executive produced by Joshua ‘’Budo’’ Karp and M.anifest, the album saw production from Budo, G Mo, Katrah-Quey and Kweku Ananse.

“Immigrant Chronicles” is hailed as one of the best from the MC whose thought-provoking lyrical deliveries have earned him accolades and fans. His penmanship aside, M.anifest is an observant and thoughtful rapper. Most of his musical contents reflect happenings within our society. He’s like Gil Scott-Heron delivering one of his prized poems about society and people vis-a-vis the political, social and economic happenings.

Pouring with songs like “Ghana Must Go”, “Blue”, “Asa”, “One Night Only”, “Coming To America” and “Sunsum Praye” (my personal  favourite from M.anifest), the album is a human centred story.
Pinned at track 4 of “Immigrant Chronicles” is “Suffer”; a song that showcases M.anifest’s knack for socio-political and economic issues. Produced by Budo, the mid-tempo afro hip hop song is an expository essay on the Ghanaian way of life and living. 

“Suffer’’ was the debut single released by M.anifest in 2012;  a year after the unfortunate terror attack on US- something he addressed in the song. The opening lines of ”Suffer” clearly captures what suffering means, in the Ghanaian context: ‘’Gari Soakings for breakfast, noodles for supper /Gotta eat proper but my pockets ain’t dapper/ Junk food manics economics is a bluffer /Need to go organic or my health might suffer’’, he raps. 

The lyrics portray M.anifest as a man caught in a quandary regarding his culinary choices and the effects on his health. He draws the nexus between his economic constraints and his dieting.
The political awareness of M.anifest is apparent in the lines: ‘’If you got a name like Muhammed or Mustafa /Flying might be tougher, my sympathies brother /Cause since towers fell it’s been hell if you other’’.

One of the aftermaths of the September 11 bombing of the “Twin Towers” was the tightening of immigration laws by many Western countries, which many believed discriminated unfairly against Muslims. Bearing a Muslim name is enough justification for airlines to bar you from flying with them, or earn suspicious looks from other passengers, or denied visa to the US and other European nations.
M.anifest remind us of the monstrous, unnavigable traffic situation of the city that often lead to lost man-hours and life-changing opportunities (“Late for this interview, my fear getting louder My chances of getting this job are gonna suffer”), to corruption, to people choosing silence over outspokenness in other not to invite negative repercussions to themselves.
On the third verse, he offers general advice on life, relationships and being ‘’wary of the zombies who smile while they suffer’’. In his epistles about relationships, M.anifest highlights the importance of communication: ‘Miscommunication why relationships, suffer”. He further acknowledges the efforts of parents (“early at scrapping through life in their quest to birds and night owls“) who provide for their wards.

And to illustrate the power dynamics between men and women, M.anifest references Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues’, a play which focuses on the experiences of women: sex (consensual and non-consensual), abuse, love, body image, genital mutilation. (The play has been adopted and staged by Abdul Karim Hakib at the Efua Sutherland Studio, University of Ghana a few times).

The lyrics, “Vagina Monologues, chronicles of the penis”, portrays how men and women perceive and talk about their sexual encounters. This line is preceded by another striking line that places the earlier line in context: ‘I mean this, men are from Mars, women from Venus‘. M.anifest borrows from John Gray’s book of the same title (“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”) to affirm the difference between the actions of men and women.

The hook of “Suffer” knots every sentiment expresses by M.anifest across the three versus of the song. It points to how no one is exempt from the afflictions of the world – from forces within or from outside one’s immediate environment.

Kayayo dey suffer, Taxi driver dey suffer/Musicians dey suffer, opposition dey suffer/
Villagers dey suffer, broke rappers dey suffer”. “Even Jesus had to suffer”

As the clever rapper he is, M.anifest delivers an interesting line about child abuse within the Catholic Church: “Priests no dey suffer, but small boys dey suffer”. This allusion was made before the revelations about the sex abuse of boys in church assumed global attention.
As one of the standouts off the album, “Suffer” resonates with many people, irrespective of social status. It’s a known fact that decisions and actions of governments or individuals does have far reaching effect on all of us. And most often, it goes to compound our plight negatively. The evocative tone of the song had producer, artist and one-half of the FOKN Bois, M3NSA adding soulful vibes to the song in the remix.

Watch: R2Bees New Video For “Beautiful”

R2Bees, from all indications, are on a roll. They are releasing songs and video faster than you can imagine. It’s like they are compensating fans for their hiatus since dropping the Efya assisted ‘Could This Be Love’ in June. Between July to present, the duo have released four songs and videos, including their latest, ‘’Beautiful’’

The adjective, ‘beautiful’, has been used in many ways than the brain can remember. One can make an exhaustive list of artists who have used ‘beautiful’ as song titles or reference it in their music. The award winning duo are the latest crop of artist to employ this heralded adjective on a song. As one could infer from the title, the afropop tune celebrates the beauty of women.

What’s been impressive about R2Bees in the last quarter of this year has been how quick they are working- putting out music and videos at the same time. Obviously, the R2Bees release machine is working overtime.

‘’Beautiful’ comes a week after ‘Supa; their banger with Wizkid. Other songs released by them include the dancehall tinged ‘’Could This Be Love (featuring Efya), ‘’We Dey Vibe’’ and ‘’Boys Kasa’’

With these string of releases, it is clear Paedae (Omar Sterling) and Mugeez are preparing us towards the release of their highly anticipated album, “Site 15”. If we are to glean anything from the impending album off these singles, then ‘Site 15’ would satisfy everyone’s musical palate: be it suckers for love songs, dancehall, hip hop or afropop.

Watch video below: