FRA draft EFYA on ‘Happy Yourself’ Remix

Music band ‘FRA’ has dropped the remix of its 2016 hit song “Happy Yourself”. The song which was produced by Reynolds ‘The Gentleman’ features Ghana’s female soul vocalist and songwriter, Efya.

The “Happy Yourself” jam will simply lift your mood and raise your spirits, with its danceable rhythm.

‘FRA,’ in Twi, means ‘to mix’ and the group adopted the name to show the strength of the diversity that they are so proud of.

The band released their first single, “Dumsor”, in 2015, and subsequently created the mighty hit “Happy Yourself” in 2016. This year, on April 12, the band dropped its third single “Party” which was to encourage people to be happy despite their ups-and-downs. They later followed it up with the beautiful love song, “Crazy” featuring Maayaa.

Now made up of Martin Adjartey, Maxwell Klu, Selorm Dornyoh, Joshua ‘Virgen’ Boateng, and George Ashirifie ‘Gogoe’, the eclectic band’s recent single “Crazy” was the band’s last song with the record label, Vision Inspired Music.

FRA have since won the hearts of many as it continues to compose music across a wide spectrum of genres: jazz, afro jazz, highlife, afrobeat, gospel, RnB, rock, and afro-pop.

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Rapper Fre-D samples Ebo Taylor on new song ‘Change’

Following the 2017 release of his Don’t Forget To Pray (freestyle) as well as the vibey single “Wahala”; Fre-D is back again with a new track titled “Change”.

The track features production from Lawrence Nana Yaw Gyan also known as ‘Young Fro’; who is a South African producer of Ghanaian descent. The jazzy old-school afro beat elements blend perfectly with the traditional rap bounce.

The track features a sample from Ebo Taylor’s ‘Atwer Abroba’; watch out for the switch up towards the end! The song displays top quality lyricism and though may be considered provocative by some; is rich with honesty and scenic story telling. The hook evokes shades of Fela Kuti as Fre-D sings about the state of the nation and decries the need for change. To describe the track 3 words, it is; real, honest, music.

Fre-D, though of Nigerian descent, is based in South Africa where he studies. He cites; Jay Z, Angelique Kidjo, Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and Oliver de Coque as his major musical influences.

Artist HANSON AKATTI to Host Three Experiential Art Exhibitions

With a name carved out in the sphere of digital art and album art creation, Hanson Akatti’s first art exhibition promises to be other-directed.

Digital Artists, Hanson Akatti, shares dates for his premiere art exhibition, “Stargate Odyssey”. Created in the same structure as a Hip Hop LP, the 16-piece exhibition offers a one-of-a-kind art experience

for each of the three different locations it will occur.

“Stargate Odyssey” is structured around minor elements that have helped Hanson hone his creativity, the most prominent being a hip hop EP. With Sixteen pieces, representing 16 tracks of a typical hip hop album, Stargate Odyssey was created surrounding the themes of androgyny, alternate realities, identity, inter-cultural influence and feminity.

The exhibition also takes the form of a small intimate concerts, each day with a different mood, setting and experience from the next.

The exhibition also takes the form of a small intimate concerts, each day with a different mood, setting and experience from the next.

The first exhibition takes place at Untamed Empire Concept Store in Ridge on 19th November, 2017 at 4pm.

The second exhibition is happening on 24th November, 2017 at 4pm at Elle Lokko Warehouse, Osu.

The third and final exhibition happens at The Shop Accra in Osu on 2nd December, 2017 at 5pm.

Born on January 21st 1989 in Accra, Ghana, Hanson Akatti has helped shape the growing art form in Accra. His whimsical yet pseudo-realistic artwork changed the face of digital art and animation in the country, with the introduction of intricate design and attention to detail. He again flipped the cards with his digitally designed magazine covers of Canoe, Dust and A.20 magazines.

Hanson’s artwork has been influential in transforming the direction of album arts in Ghana and Africa at large. His brilliant work for DJ Juls’, Fokn Bois, EL and Efya has been a determining factor for the effort now ascribed to album artworks in Africa.

See more of Hanson’s on his website www.hansonakatti.com . Follow the artist on Twitter at @TheDZfa and Instagram at @HansonAkatti

Papa Chie is pushing the Afro-EDM front on ‘Boss’

Afro Electronic Dance Music is a steady growing genre on the Ghanaian music space. And one of the artist helping push this front is Papa Chie.

‘Boss’ is the latest addition to his growing music catalog. Produced by regular collaborator Kayso, the song’s two verses detail what defines a boss, from both the male and female perspectives.

Make them know/ Na you wey dey call the shots’, Papa Chie sings over the taut guitar synths and drum heavy beat. His strong vocals envelopes the beat adequately. The song carries all the trappings of EDM: the ever winding string, fast paced, rising drums and the unmistakable beat drop. But, one can’t miss the African rhythms present in the overall production.

Papa Chie has a lot going on as far as his career goes. He outlines his plans in an email:

I am re-releasing my EP ‘Mystic Cloth’ with two bonus songs. I know a lot of the new generation haven’t had a feel of it. Then follow up with my collaborative Afro- Electro project with producer Afrolecktra. The release an album, solely house music titled ‘House Feels’

Watch: Fuse ODG – ‘Boa Me’ feat Ed Sheeran & Mugeez

If there’s anything clear about the bromance between afro-pop act, Fuse ODG and British pop star Ed Sheeran, it’s one of unfiltered attraction. They both feel very comfortable around each other.

That bromance is evident on ‘Boa Me’, the latest video by Fuse ODG featuring Ed Sheeran and Mugeez (of R2Bees). The video offers a snapshot into the good time the two had while on a visit to Ghana- from enjoying the love from the street, visiting a cocoa farm and the well famous Kantamanto market.

Ed’s visit was indeed a jolly one as his recount of events of his time in Ghana during interviews suggest-from drinking the liquor Shocker to eating waakye. I bet to say Ed is one of the few celebs who really enjoyed the ‘Ghana life’ during his few weeks stay in the country.

The song, ‘Boa Me’ which translate as ‘Help Me’ has both artists calling on people to offer them a helping hand in their times of need. What’s indeed remarkable is hearing Ed Sheeran singing part of the song in Twi (one of the widely spoken languages in Ghana). It’s not the first time Ed Sheeran had sung in Twi. On his album “Divide”, he not only sang in Twi but named the last song on the album ‘Bebia Be Ye Yie’ a twi phrase meaning ‘Everything Shall Be Well’. (Somebody get Ed Sheeran a Ghana passport).

Although the song is a personal plea, the cry for help resonates with the sad experiences of many people across the world, especially those caught up in political upheavals- from the Royingha Moslems of Myammar, the immigrants trapped in Libya and the bombing going on in Yemen and Somalia.

‘Boa Me’ is another addition to the growing catalog of Fuse ODG, who has been shooting visually appealing, ‘go-happy’ videos, as seen in ‘No Daylight’, featuring people of various creed dancing in the streets of London.

Watch video here

How EL, M.anifest and FOKN Bois Used Skits to Advance the Narratives on their albums

Skits shall always have a place in the history of music especially hip hop. Since pioneers De La Soul incorporated skits on their 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising, they became a trend employed by many hip hop artists from that time till the early 2000s when the world was ushered into the MP3 era. Rappers and labels therefore saw it unnecessary to fill albums with many skits. As Evan Rytlewski, a contributor for Pitchfork.com wrote, ‘skits are one of hip hop’s oddest innovations and most tiresome tradition’. The MP3 revolution aside, skits, according to Mr. Rytlewski ‘gum up otherwise fluid playlists and make for embarrassing moments when they pop-up on shuffle’. The interruption was a killing for fans.

Skits are placed on albums to serve two purposes: to advance the narrative or theme of the album. Concept albums may not be able to put all the stories or messages they want to convey on the songs on their albums adequately, so skits become another tool used. Also, it is placed to keep albums exciting courtesy the humorous/comedic commentary shared. Others use skits to air out some uncomfortable truths on issues (whether personal or otherwise) they feel strongly about.

Albums with incredible skits that comes to mind instantly include DAMN., TPAB, GKMC (Kendrick Lamar), Rather You Than Me (Rick Ross), Wale’s Album About Nothing (AAN). On both ‘’GKMC’’, TBAP’’ and ‘’AAN’’, the skits gave the listener a better perspective on what influenced the album, as well as a better appreciation of the songs on them.

I can’t speak on how predominant skits were on albums by Ghanaian artistes in the past. (Perhaps I am too young to remember). Interestingly, skits are making an appearance on some of the best albums/mixtapes released in recent times. It may not be a comeback for skits but could inspire the trend. As earlier stated, skits advance the tales on the albums and also tickle the listener with good dose of humour. Albums/Mixtape skits that have made an impression on me are those found on EL’s ‘BAR 1’, ‘Fokn Wit Ewe’ by the FOKN Bois and M.anifest’s ‘APAE’ mixtape.

On EL’s ‘BAR I’ mixtape, the skits were intelligently placed at the end of songs to foreshadow the theme of the next track. ‘BAR I’ had four humor-filled skits delivered by DeezyDoThis. After the DJ Juls produced ‘Best Rapper Alive (BAR)’ had run out, the voice of DeezyDoThis popped up with the following words: ‘The thing about winners be say if you no mention dema names them no go bore’. He described those who demand to be mentioned as ‘broke ass niggas’-a criticism to friends who need their personas validated by an artists (for the brags). The skit sounded more like a casual remark made during a conversation than one deliberately laid for the mixtape. He returned once again on the third track, where amidst laughter, left the listener in suspense about an up-coming skit: ‘the skit is coming, along with your girl!’

The skit came on the 8th track, just before ‘Me And Your Girlfriend’; where EL and M.anifest revealed their intentions of ‘stealing’ someone’s girl. The 37 seconds skit is a voicemail of a girl apologizing to her boyfriend after busted for infidelity. Deezy returned at the end of the track to thank ‘niggas who we dey f**k dema girls’, calling them the ‘good samaritans of this generation’-a crudely humorous statement.

Two things strike you listening to the skits on M.anifest’s 2015 ‘Apae’ mixtape. The first are the insight the skits offer about the album: the frustrations of the Ghanaian youth. The second was how the commentary by an inebriated Efo was placed. Truthfulness is found in the bottle as the saying goes and Efo shared a few on ‘’Apae’’, right at the end of the second track ‘Right Here’. Efo put into perspective the numerous definitions or instances the slang ‘’Apae’’ (which means ‘it’s here/or ready’) fit. The slang has different interpretations depending on the context of use. And as Efo pointed out, ‘Apea’ could be a call to binge drinking, promiscuity, corruption, electioneering malpractices (stealing ballot boxes). In the end, Efo left the listener with a thought provoking advice: ‘as you indulge in any of these vices, learn that today might only belong to you. But, luck might elude you next time’. In short, think deeply before you indulge in any act.

Efo appeared two tracks down the album-at the end of the JaySo produced ‘Mind Game’-where M.anifest narrated the story of an unrequited love affair-where money doesn’t get you love but pleasure. The slapping 808s, piano chords and sythns aside, Efo dropped another life gem the phoniness of relationships. With the lifestyle of a sakawa boy as backdrop, he wondered why some ladies would enjoy the largesse but opt out of the relationship with a Sakawa guy under the excuse of wanting to marry a graduate. M.anifest invited Efo once again for a short conversation how one must carry themselves when rich: ‘it’s better to be careless when you are walking in town with money on you since it’s easier to escape the radar of the pick pockets. Being too careful is a sure bet to get robbed by the FBI (Follow Back International)’, according to Efo. This conversation precede ‘Big Sixes’, a song about money and a reference to the independence fighters whose faces adorn most of the Ghana Cedi. (The reference is a metaphor for hard work).

The song also had M.anifest pondering on the nexus between riches and morals. It is often intimated that, rich people are often seen as arrogant and disrespectful with the poor reflecting the opposite. ‘A good name is better than riches’, he echoed this famous dictum. But is quick to remind us that ‘but it’s fatal to be poor’. Before the ultimate song on the album (the Someway Bi re-fix not included), Efo showed up again, this time offering the listener a sad tale of his life- how the pressures of life is compelling him to take certain drastic actions towards becoming rich. Sensing he had no answers for Efo, M.anifest called on Obrafour to share some sage words with Efo. The advice is found on the classic ‘No Shortcut to Heaven’, a song imploring all to bid their time and work hard because we’re ‘confusing our wants with what we need’. The appearance of Efo on ‘Apae’ helped in breaking down the central theme of the album for the listener.

The FOKN Bois took a different approach from EL and M.anifest in introducing listeners to their classic tape ‘’Fokn Wit Ewe’’’. ‘’Fokn Wit Ewe’’ is raw, uncensored and highly provocative. It’s an uncomfortable listen for ‘Christians’ as showcased by the first track ‘SINtro. In the midst of a church service, the Fokn Bois-Wanlov and M3nsa are heard discussing the sexual romp between some church members as well as their own sex fueled fantasies in a sardonic manner. On ‘Famous In China’, the two mock, in what sounds like a kungfu movie sketch, their outrage against payola. The duo are noted for being anti- payola campaigners (paying DJs to play an artiste’s song on radio).  The satire continued on ‘Help America’, where a son desperately called his dad to register his intentions of returning back home since Americans ‘are suffering’. (The 2012 recession that hit the US and European countries inspired this song). On the song, they requested countries like ‘Sudan, Somalia Mexico’ to ‘give them (US) something to eat’. The telephone conversation and the accent employed were comedic than even the hook of the song.

The real definition of the album and its title as suggested by the album’s artwork, is found on ‘FOKN Knews’ with Wummi. The ‘news’ item mocked the seemingly absence of pubic lice (scrubs) in this age, which ‘scientists’ attributed to the waxing of public hair for the making of Brazilian hair. But, the ‘news’ item from the ‘Yenditrumu Region’ about an absurd sheep rape incident is the codeine on the album. (‘Yenditrumu’ means ‘no anal sex’ in the Twi language. The title choice is interesting since it feeds into the homophobic attitudes of most Ghanaians. The Fokn Bois are therefore making sarcastic reference to this attitude). The farmer whose sheep was raped narrated in vivid terms (via a phone call) how the rape happened and requested the police to arrest the rapist. As if this disturbing ‘news’ wasn’t enough, the duo continued to discuss the benefits or otherwise of sheep rape on ‘Fokn Eating Sheep’. If you are the kind who doesn’t easily flat out scenes out of your mind, please skip Track 15 on the album.

Skits may be an out of fashion tool which was a common feature on hip hop albums of old. In today’s music culture, it is unthinkable to flood an album with many skits. Artists who wish to place skits on their albums must be artistic and creative about it. That’s, they need to helm skits that fit the narrative of the album. Nobody will take you serious if your skits are tasteless and placed to fill up the album.

Like EL, M.anifest and the Fokn Bois, skits are not a lost art. The brilliance of the skits attest to their creative prowess.

Dissecting the story told by Akan on Onipa Akoma – Part 3

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This is the concluding part of the story told by rapper Akan on his album ‘Onipa Akoma’.  We published the Part 1 and 2 of the story last week. You can read here

PART 3: The Clarity

The voice, as haunting and distressed as it sounded on ‘Anadwo Y3 D3’ pricked something in Akan. He found some level of clarity, like a man regaining consciousness from a spell. The voice burst that cocoon of meaningless frivolities that have blinded Akan from realizing that his main purpose in life isn’t to be reckless but achieve something greater. And our first encounter of this new phase is on ‘Helebaba’.

‘Helebaba, Helebaba. The kiddie mess up Holy Father’. This lyric, as confessional as it sounds, unties Akan from all the ‘worldly enchantments’ that blinded him. It’s akin to the confessional ceremonies of the Catholics. ‘Helebaba’ is a slang describing the Charismatic Church practice of exorcism. For Akan, the exorcism process is his first steps toward a new phase. His demons have been cast out. His old skin (life) is being shed. In its place is a new man with renewed purpose and energy to achieve his goals in life. That clarity leads him to the realization of his own intelligence and wisdom; something he believes those who performed the exorcism don’t have. Akan sees his greatness right in front of him and as he says on the interlude: ‘you’ve not seen what we are about to do/ y’all will follow our lead/ A young king is about to rule’. It’s interesting to hear him describe himself as ‘a young king’ since that has been his intention from the onset, especially on the first song of the album.

They say I mess up, Holy Father/ Helebaba/Helebaba/Helebaba

With his new found clarity and renewed purpose, Akan begins to think about how to live a better life. This time, he allows his mind and heart to dictate what should be central to him. ‘Akoma Ne Adwen’, (The Heart and Mind) is a pitching contest, with each making a strong case on why it should be chosen. Its human nature for us to let our thoughts and heart wander when in a state of dilemma. The ‘battle’ of the two usually provoke a synthesized idea(s) or solutions to helping solve the challenge. Going by the same approach, Akan weighs the unique attributes of these two elements- ‘the heart tells him what’s beautiful’. His heart tells him ‘what’s best or important’. ‘The heart tells him to fall in love’; his mind ‘advices him to stand in love’. In the end, Akan listens to his heart because ‘you can’t have life without a heart’.

Love is the subject treated next on ‘Daben’ (When?) Akan wonders when his lover would come and join him where he is. Remember, he lost his lover once he lost all his riches. On this track he makes it clear that, critics won’t dissuade him from going after the one he still loves. He also points to how matured he is now, how he has worked on his own flaws and how he is prepared to be the best lover for her. He wouldn’t mind doing menial jobs to cater for her.

Akan knows that life isn’t a race. That, patience is the vehicle needed to navigate this turbulent thing called life. Of course, there would be bumps on the way but, one shouldn’t be hurried to make decisions with the potential of ruining one’s future. That’s the theme of ‘Ehuru A 3bedwo’ (literally means there’s calmness after the storm). If you remember, his mom stressed on the need to be patient in life. The story woven on this track- about a farmer who lost the treasures (gold) on his farmland when the drought season went beyond expectation affirms his mother’s advice. The farmer’s impatience, in my estimation, is Akan’s own voice of conscience reminding him to take things easy and live one day at a time. Chasing wealth is good, but what is great is being content with what you have in hand. The pitfalls in the life of Yaw Atakora (the protagonist in the story) are the holy keys guiding Akan’s steps in his journey towards success.

My foolishness is my security for longer life

There’s a saying that, we live for death. That’s, our existence and struggles for a better life shall come to an end one day when we meet the cold blooded angel of death. No man is immortal. Like the living beings that we are, we need to think about our mortality. Having found a new purpose, fixing his flaws and realizing how important patience is in life, Akan mulls over his own mortality on ‘Awufo Som’ (Requiem Mass). This, he does by considering the various stages of the funeral ceremony- birth, work, success and finally death. Death has its own peculiar rites that need to be observed by the family of the deceased before the final interment. These are the themes Akan explores on the track.

 

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He expands on the theme on the next track, ‘Asem No’ (The Matter/Truth), where he takes a leaf from the saying that, knowledge acquired overtime must be shared with all. Akan talks about life, death, good deeds, bad decisions, legacy, wisdom and the end of humanity. Clearly, he knows there’s a journey to be taken after this one on earth. It is therefore, up to us all to make up their minds, straighten up our lives and be thoughtful of each action they take. Life may be uncertain in many ways. However, death is certain.

The clarity phase ends with ‘Kae Kwabena’ (Remember/Pray for Kwabena), where Akan admits his own human frailties. ‘I’m not righteous. I’m not an angel. I’ve never seen heaven; and never seen what’s beyond our world’, he raps. ‘Kae Kwabena’ is a plea to God to afford him the strength to ignore the desires of the flesh and of the earth since they amount to nothing in the end. A contrasting picture is seen between this track and the opener, ‘Odaamanii Abissadee’. Whereas ‘Odaamani Abisadee’ had Akan outlining his dreams and hopes in material terms, ‘Kae Kwabena’ is more introspective; where a wise Akan sees living a meaningful life and impacting his clan and humanity as paramount in life. Leaving a legacy through his good deed outlive banal acts.

Doing good doesn’t immune you from being evil. Likewise, being evil doesn’t mean you can’t be good

Conclusion

Akan, on ‘Onipa Akoma’ delivers a compelling story through 15 tracks. And as you’d realize, the album is laden with much depth and knowledge. He traces the dreams and aspirations of a young man who’s desires success. But, in chasing this success, there’s the temptation to lose your focus. It is often the case to find people who had notable intentions derail from what used to matter to them. As you chase the dream, be mindful of the fact that, you need full doses of patience. One needs to run this race of life at their own pace and time and with an open mind. Those who tend to not follow these simple life instructions tend to miss their goals eventually.

These are the nuggets on ‘Onipa Akoma’. How much of the story is based on personal life experiences and how much is fiction? Only Akan could tell.