I initially hesitated writing a review about JaySo’s new album for two simple reasons. First, I have written a lot about or on JaySo this year. I have done four articles (if you include this review) already. Secondly, what more is there to say about the album? Making Tasha Proud (MTP) is the perfect Christmas gift to fans albeit, it was long overdue.
The persistent bugging from my buddy Nana Safo Wiafe (@forksafo) made me shatter the glass panel I have installed in my mind to stop my thoughts from seeping out. And I’m sure there are fans out there who want to hear what I have to say about it
If there were any music fans out there, especially hip hop or ‘GH Rap’ enthusiasts who have not heard the rapper JaySo, his debut has introduced him to them. If there were others who knew him as a producer rather than an MC, they have now gotten a fully packaged answer. And if, there were still others who thought of him a ‘washed up’ rapper, Making Tasha Proud has definitely offered them the opportunity to revise their notes.
‘As I start do the rap thing; as I start make beats more people talk me say I no go fit catch anywhere… like I dey waste my time. Make you no shock say I always dey rap this way’ – Do- Re-Me
When the lead single of the album, which eventually became the album’s title- the album titled changed four times before settling on its current name- was released in the middle of the year, and talk of an impending debut about to be released, I was cocooned in a haze of doubt primarily because, news of JaySo dropping an album has always turned out a hoax.
For a man who has been involved with music –both as a rapper and more as a producer and helping shape the direction and culture of music in Ghana for over a decade, releasing a debut 17 track album that took ten years to craft and three years to record that leaves the listener unable to skip a track is a testament to the depth of talent residing in the 5’11 frame of the Skillions huncho.
As he revealed in a recent interview with GeorgeBritton.com, he had to record entirely new songs for this album since his hard drive containing songs originally selected to make the album crashed. Despite the unfortunate experience, Making Tasha Proud got released.
The beauty of the album-aside qualifying as the best sonically released album thus far; the carefully chosen guest artistes and dope lyrics was due to JaySo’s producer instincts. That is, being behind the production boards meant having his fingers on the pulse of today’s shifting music scene as evident on They Wanna Know (Shade) and Mercy Mercy where the ubiquitous trap influence was felt.
Your favourite rapper is broke as shade/ But he runnin’ around town like he knows the biz/ I’ve being around and I know the biz/ Forget the hype and stay relevant/ A broke celebrity is so embarrassing/And I’d be damned if I’m one’- They Wanna Know (Shade)
Rappers like JaySo, who rap strictly in English have struggled to make an impression on the mainstream music scene despite their well acknowledged talents. The frustration has been biting for some while others have found a way around this situation. As he explained in an interview with GeorgeBritton.com, ‘most rappers aren’t creating the right kind of records’ to enable them go mainstream. With MTP, JaySo states he made the music he loved and for ‘those who appreciate my music’.
On MTP, JaySo infused a bit of local influence into his music to appeal to listeners especially who would be hearing him for the first time. On songs such as Nyom’No, Sit Yourself Down, Obaa Mu Ba, he transversed between English, Twi and Pidgin, a deliberate attempt at reaching a large and diverse audience. What is interesting is, he never sold out on his style; his beats were majorly hip hop. JaySo kept Azonto at a distance.
Having worked with and for a cross section of artistes, one would have thought featuring some of today’s talents especially former Skillions acts and affiliates would be the case. However, JaySo picked just a handful of his ‘friends’ who added the perfect dose of creativity and sheen.
Sarkodie (twice featured), A.I, M.anifest, Raquel, Kobby Onyame, the adorable Nessa (JaySo’s daughter), UK singer Haidara, Copta and BraKevin Beats were enlisted as guests. Whoever saw this coming in respect of BraKevin Beats’ appearance and delivery? After years of hibernation, he came out hungry, energetic, passionate and stylistic proving that he still has his rap gloss intact. He made 2 Thumbs Up his own, killing the track to bits.
Keeping the guest list small (10 features on 8 songs) and two guest producers-G.Mo and Mike Millz meant affording the listener an opportunity to be see, feel and enjoy his talent and what he stands for: rapping, singing and producing.
In an era where heavy, noisy beats is a common trait, seeing JaySo depart from that was refreshing. The beats on MTP are all measured and relatively low, enabling the listener and the beat crazy fan to hear every drum line, high/low hats, the piano chords and any other instrument employed on the tracks. Simply, there is some pristine touch to it. He made the album with the listener in mind; for the listener to appreciate the music –the lyrics and the instrumentations.
I’m like a dream come true to a lot of you/ Never seen standing idle cos I got lot to do/Been a long time coming/ You can understand/ So salute me babe – My Daddy Is A Champ
Making Tasha Proud streamed through subjects of Love (Obaa Mu Ba, Say You Love Me, Tag Team, Sheila Said No), Success/Inspiration (Making Tasha Proud, Winning Is All I Know, Mercy Mercy, Having A Party, My Daddy Is A Champ), Hate/Struggles (Sit Yourself Down, Little Monsters), State of Music (Enyom’No) with JaySo exhibiting his rapping and singing skills over hip hop and infectious hip-soul beats.
After being in the game for over ten years, helping shape and institutionalize hip hop in Ghana, grooming new artistes and occasionally releasing singles to remind himself and fans that he has not lost his first love (rapping), Making Tasha Proud could not have happen at any better time. And who are we to thank but Tasha, whom he describes as his ‘biggest fan’ and inspiration behind the album.
If there is one thing I can predict, it won’t take another decade and four working album titles before a sophomore is made since Tasha would be around to nudge JaySo to put out some more work.