Wake up man, wake. It’s past 5 in the morning. Matter of fact, where’s that Jazz? You know you gotta play me that Jazz?’ the voice of Kwame Jackson opens 6AM BLUES INTERLUDE, one of the 7 songs on Ansah Live’s debut EP, ULTRAMARINE DREAM EP.
When @Flynimaboy tweeted the link to Ansah Live’s EP- a name I was seeing for the first time-I hit the link and upon skimming through three songs, the rawness of his delivery and the energy in his voice hit me. After listening to the EP for a couple of hours, two things got my attention: the jazzy nature of his beat and his admirable story-telling skills.
Before this EP, Ansah Live had been involved with hip hop for a while. He was featured on Krak Gymafi’s ‘First Robe’ EP and also wrote a song featured on BiQo’s Deft EP.
Cloud Complex, a jazzy interlude opens UltraMarine Dream EP, offering an outlook into what is on offer-jazz and hip hop. Off its heels comes 5 IN THE MORNING, a song produced by Dopebymania (who produced two tracks on the album).
On this track, which follows 6 AM Blues, Ansah Live brings you the back story in a rapper’s life-hanging out with the crew, picking and waking up by a girl he picked from the club and all the good or happy hours. But, as one hears, you don’t renege on studio sessions when you want to be great. The track features BiQo who delivered an admirable falsetto hook.
Nas and JaRule inspired Ansah Lives to become a rapper and he doesn’t fail to highlight that on CALCULATORS AND INK, an advisory song about the importance of education. He talks about both his father, his boss at the bank and his professor reminding him of that. Ansah Live makes it clear on the hook ‘unless you are Basquait or Jordan/ don’t f**king ignore them/Calculators and Ink they probably won’t let you sink now’. Even Basquiat and Jordan despite their skills were educated.
The storytelling skills of Ansah Live is displayed on the fourth song, GREW UP FAST. The beat sound like one borrowed from the beat book of J.Dilla. Ansah Lives and Alberto, the producer tackle the issue of divorce, effect on kids, teenage pregnancy and how the system forces kids to grow up fast, for the best and worse in an uncensored fashion. Lines like If we had all the vitamins in the world, I wonder if we would grow up this fast, delivered in an exhausting tone drives home the weight of the issue being discussed.
One has to applaud their ability to paint vivid pictures with their lyrics. They choosing to deliver only two verses was a good decision and the horns at the end; groovy.
The downside of this EP is the post-production. One can’t say if the artiste and producers deliberately chose to let the album sound grating or raw. A bit of polishing (better mastering) would have given the EP a desired quality. This notwithstanding, those beautiful jazz interludes-on Cloud Complex and Patrick Paintsil, an impressive sample of 21 Greedy Merchants, a band based in Los Angeles can’t be ignored Letting the latter run for a little over 2 and half minutes is to be uncool. A melody of that nature must be left to run a bit longer.
Being a debut project for the artiste, UltraMarine Dream EP has seen Ansah Live sell himself as an artiste who has skills and taste, a la A Tribe Called Quest or the Soulquarians. The listener can relate to the themes. The stories told coupled with Ansah Live direct lyrics (no excessive punchlines or rhymes) and the jazzy groove replete on the EP hands the EP an easy listen allure; one that delights rather than exhaust.