Shaker and Kojo Cue - BBnz

A (Late) Track-By-Track Review of Pen & Paper

This review is late in coming. But, as they say, better late than never. Contributor-At-Large, Nana Safo (@forksafo‏ ) decided to write a track-by-track review of the album, settling on which rapper came in the hardest on each track. This article is also to wish Lil Shaker a happy birthday. Enjoy his analysis.

The plan was for Shaker to release a solo album. A hiphop or rap album to prove to people that he hasn’t lost his hip-hop antecedents. Shaker has been slammed by fans who loved him for his hip-hop roots for reducing himself to a mere hook deliverer. As a fan, I strongly felt he’d have earned more stripes if he had gone as an indie artist than joining ranks with BBnZ.

So, when fellow label mate and rapper Kojo-Cue heard him laying bars over beats in the studio, he was willing to drop a few verses on some songs. Later, the two thought it wise to drop a joint album rather than Shaker doing it alone. The outcome: Pen and Paper.

Most fans were anxious, and at the same time very expectant of what the two would offer. Shaker had been silent on the rap scene for a minute, and has been singing most of the time. For those who are not familiar with him, this a flashback on his musical journey. Cue on the other hand has from day one till date stuck to his rap. He remains part of my 6 (six) underrated rap acts in the country.

If not mistaken, the 13 track album was officially released on Saturday, 4th November, 2017 with an impressive concert at the Alliance François, although it did not climax as expected (the show was forced to end prematurely due to time factor). Now left with the last two MCs on the label, let’s analyze, on track-by-track basis, the performance of each MC on album.


Accra – Kumasi (Prod by Ipappi)

The instrumental for the opening track produced by Ipappi was a classical hiphop freestyle beat that showcased quality as well as the worth of people who jump on it. MC’s of that caliber can never go wrong with such a beat. Both rappers did their thing chale, sticking to no particular subject but just the freestyled rhymes chale. Judging from the verses chale, I think Cue went in harder than Shaker Chale.

‘’I write verse ky3, the boy just dey type chale/ boys just dey bite chale/ chew and pour, we go sue them more/settle them/ take the settlement/ then we fly chale’’ Ko-Jo Cue.

Pen and Paper (Prod by Shaker)

This track happens to be the lead track of the album. It happens to be the first single with a simple and excellently conceptualized video (the seamless transitions are sick), dropped prior to the album release.

In an era where some rappers boast about stepping into the booth with no written rhymes and others typing lyrics on the phones, Shaker and Cue referencing pen and paper shows how much value they place on the good old art of hip hop: writing. As to who bodied their verses, well I call this one a draw because of how both acts put forward their strongest foot and traded verses with such impeccability. Read our video review here

Chale let’s face it, most of these new rappers no dey say sh*t, they basic/make I give them my beats make them waste it – Shaker

Man Dey (Prod by VacsOnIt)

This track seemed to set records straight. The two rappers told their survival stories at one end and at the other threw some shades. The chorus was perfectly laid by Cue. For the rap, Shaker took it back to what people knew him for: brilliant lyrics with funny references.

He took it to the era where the New Generation Skillions reigned supreme. With the trappy beat serving as the perfect canvas, the two felt very comfortable at work. Shaker’s display of diverse rap styles earned him a huge one over Cue.

Chale f*ck your Louis Vuitton/You see Wallaby before? – Shaker

Uh Huh, Eh Heh (Prod by King Jamal)

One of my favourite on the album. The bounce is crazy; likewise the display of word play coupled with lyrical dexterity. Lil Shaker and Ko-Jo Cue came to war on this song; sending warning lyrical shots to an artiste. Where Cue went covertly throwing shots at this artist, Shaker chose to be brazen, referencing this artiste’s signature tagline and girlfriend to give the listener an idea. Shaker topped this one too in my book.

The-6-VGMA-category-nominated-but-took-none-rapper, Medikal I’m sure would take particular interest in this song.

Wavy since, olden times/ soon we go Thor like Odin son / k) y3 Sakawa, Me no me y3 Shatta, Wale (Wa lay) every beat enkasa koraa, massa Mahama( Ma hammer) wo ex – president in my city, Nana kraa go test -ify – Kojo Cue

Pressure ft. Ru (Prod by King Jamal)

Both rappers gave what appeared as real accounts of their careers through the eyes of a staunch fan. Shaker’s career has, according to some fans, including Joseph (used in the song) stagnated since signing to BBnZ, and constantly questioned why that was the case. Cue’s approached the song from the standpoint of a young, upcoming artist who was seeking answers (from Cue) on how to make it in this industry. Honestly I feel the  Ru shouldn’t have to be on the song.

His verse seemly a little derailed from the pattern Cue and Shaker went. Ru’s verse was good but the Cue and Shaker’s spoke to a distinctly unique similar storyline and was better. Back to who took this one, I think Joseph’s narration of Shaker’s career got this one in my estimation. Both accounts by the two seemed real but Shaker’s seemed “more realer” (No Pappy Kojo things).

Read Lil Shaker’s Come Up Story

High Me ft. Magnom (Prod by Magnom)

Well, I’m not too happy this song was featured on an album titled “Pen & Paper”, conceived as a real hip hop album. One would have expected more ‘’guy guy’’ raps but not this song. With reference to the above two sentences, I shamefully say this ‘love song’ is one of my favourites off the album. Joe Magnom nailed the chorus and both rappers did what was expected of them on the song. ‘High Me’ is a sweet music piece: the bounce is infectious, the three line hook by Badman Magnom is catchy as hell. An excellent radio formatted song. I wouldn’t judge this song. It’s just… so good.

Politics ft. Kwabena Boham (Prod by Bedi Drumkits)

It’s said that nobody has it worse than an underground artiste. In their quest to make it, they scrap every dime and throw it in a dream, with no guarantee of success. Lil Shaker and Cue address this phenomenon, highlighting the real challenges up and coming and even some establish artistes face. Getting people to listen to your songs even when songs are on free streaming and download platforms, plus promotion and other financial constraints makes it a suicidal mission.

Cue and Shaker did a conversation / duet type of rap style, revealing how ‘everything is politics’ in showbiz. Kwabena Boham came in with a different approach. He stuck to the theme of and dropped some word play with the names of members of the BBNZ crew. I will call it a draw for all three rappers. This song has everything: humour, advice and real truths.

How you get 200k followers wey your retweets be two? – Ko-Jo Cue

Up & Awake ft. Kwesi Arthur (Prod by Ipappi)

Up & Awake is a trap-bounce song which featured Kwesi Arthur, one of the new rap sensations in the country. He did the hook and climaxed the song with a short verse. Fans just wished his verse was a little longer. In summary, the song thanked God for the gift of life (up and wake up/Glory to God o) and for Him to bless our hustle when we are awake. It really difficulty to tell who topped the rap and wouldn’t be fair to score it as a draw. Shaker did good but Cue held his own well. Cue had it. Special credit needs to be given to the producer. Those strings bawling beneath the beat was dope.

Read Up and Awake Review Here

Me Ti Ate (Prod by K Wypa)

A nice one to be played with high volume in a moving car. This song no doubt qualifies as a club banger. This is a hip hop tune which saw both acts “flexing” on their current standings in the industry and also how far they have come. Cue set fire to the ‘feature for exposure’ flag and the need for rappers to be smart with their finances.

Shaker pours out their credentials and why they are the leaders of the new school. An average performance by both rappers over the hard hitting kicks, head bumping beat and catchy chorus. Will pick Cue if I’m to choose who did better.

Just Know (Prod by Paq)

Not really a fan of trap music. I think this song qualifies as one. No doubt “Just Know” is nice piece of music and a good one to relax with. The song in summary speaks about confidence and the hope of success. They speak against fakeness, mistrust and need to stay real. If am to score, both rappers were up to par.

Things We Do 4 Love Ft KiDi (Prod by BB and JayMera)

A love song with beautiful highlife grooves with a trap influence. Lynx Entertainment artiste KiDi brought his smoothness on it. The instrumentation was well laid and the rappers were on point. Both rappers brought a local feel to their verses which am sure it would catch on with most people. Shaker did well with his infusion of the Ewe dialect and Cue as usual was spot on with his Twi.

The title of this song is however deceptive and disappointing for contemporary old school head like me. On a track title like that, I was expecting flashbacks from the early 2000s local TV series “Things We Do For Love”. Cue got this one hands down.

Abi you know say, if you were Kenkey/ I go pick you over Jollof, right? – Kojo Cue

Untitled (Prod by Jedi Drumkits)

The video to this song is mad creative. Untitled is a freestyle rap song where both Shaker and Cue went bananas with the bars. A listed favourite on the album, and I’m sure it will be on the hearts of most rap lovers. Listening to the song, I wonder how much Access Bank and KFC helped in its production.

Hate to say this but it seemed hibernating from the rap scene for a while took a toll on Shaker. Cue’s verses on this song could easily pass him for rapper of the year. Cue got this one by some distance. Read video review here

You see mic aa you go fear, you no near am at all, Cool cat rhymes aa Tupac Shakur, So many dope lines I for supply Tagor – Ko-Jo Cue

 

Hmmm Ft Cina Souls (Prod by JayMera)

Don’t know whether this is a style of BBNZ rap artistes; to climax their albums/mixtapes with real life stories of how they got to their present status in the industry. Funny enough, EL’s BAR mixtapes with similar patterned songs featured Shaker on BAR I (Saa Na Eti3) and the two (Shaker and Cue) on “We No Dey Hear” on BAR II.

Shaker did the chorus on both songs and had his story pending. Cue on the other hand, told his story and really didn’t have much to say on Hmmm (at least when compared to “We No Dey Hear”). Cina Soul, the third voice on the song blessed the piece with her sweet silky voice as she perfectly laid the chorus in Ga. I have a crush on her (Wassup @MannyFBC?) Shaker had this one for me. Just hope his verse does not breed any friction among colleagues.

Read AlsoGet Familiar: Six Top Underground GH Rappers You Need To Know

This by no means seeks to disrespect or downplay the crafts and efforts of any of the artistes. They both brought their gifts to the table, resulting in the crafting of one of the best albums released last year and also, one of the best collaborative albums thus far.

This is real hard work which needs to be supported.

Mad respect and appreciation goes out to the two artistes, the artistes who featured and to all hands who helped in putting this album together. Hiphop is much grateful. Again mad appreciation for bringing into light an innovative means of revenue collection aftown.com. Buy Pen & Paper Album here

PS: This album review was intentionally written late as Kojo Cue and Shaker REFUSED to ‘chill’ us for 5 days straight – exactly like they said they should in the song ‘Politics’. – Manny FBC

Nana Safo is a rapper and the biggest Papoose fan ever. He tweets at @forksafo

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Video: Watch Ko-Jo Cue and Lil Shaker’s Cinematic Slave Inspired ‘Up and Awake’ Video

When Ko-Jo Cue and Lil Shaker began sharing photos of ‘Up and Awake’, featuring Kwesi Arthur, we knew the video would either be a slave video or be inspired by a slave story.

From the field nigger garbs to the lynching and abuse of these slaves, and their quest to attain their freedom are vividly recreated in this short yet profound video directed by Esianyo Kumodzi.

Inspired by the Steve McQueen 2013 Oscar winning movie 12 Years A Slave, the video opens with four slaves – Ko-Jo Cue, Lil Shaker, Kwesi Arthur and Juls- strategizing their escape to freedom from their masters. Juls, however bails out of the plan leaving the three to undertake this journey. (Juls bailing out is indicative of how indolent the whole slave progrom made some of these slaves).

Chased by their gun wielding masters on horse backs, Ko-Jo Cue and Lil Shaker succeed in their escape, rendering the attempts of their master’s unsuccessful.

Scenes of plantation life – the lynching, public beatings, cotton harvesting – are shown. The texture and quality of video, the garbs worn by them, the acting and the overall scenery aptly reflect the 1800s slave epoch.

The overall cinematic look of the video deviate from the traditional hiphop videos we are generally accustomed to.

Watching the video, one could be forgiven for thinking an old reel of a slave movie was imposed in the video from the 3:10 seconds mark. All the scenes in the video are however, acted out. (Fun fact: None of the people in the video are actors. This is their first acting ‘job’).

The runaway slaves become free in the end, trading off their white and khaki slave costume for resplendent kente clothes at the end of the video. Freedom has finally come.

Ko-Jo, Lil Shaker and video director, Esianyo Kumodzi have been releasing some incredible visuals for songs off ‘Pen and Paper’. Videos such as ‘Untitled’, ‘Pen and Paper’ and this latest work, ‘Up and Awake’ are conceptually different and incredibly executed.

Watch video below

Press Release: Producer DredW Announces ‘Learning Seasion’

Young Ghanaian producer, DredW has announced the release of his next project titled ”Learning Sessions”. Born Winfred Ametepe, the producer announced this via his Instagram page.

After releasing his first single ‘Choco Milo’ featuring WondaBoy, a record which did well, it’s only right that he drops another project.

Speaking to DredW, he said ”This project would be different from his other beat tapes released”. He also teased some unfinished tracks which would be released in due time. This year could be his year, so all readers should stay tuned for more information. ”This project will be full of banging beats and hooks”, he also added.

However, no date has been announced yet, but we are sure to have it soon.

DredW started making beats as a hobby in 2008 but turned professional in 2012. He has worked with artistes and producers like EL, Mr. Eazi, Richie Mensah, Gasmilla, FlowKingStone, David Jay, Zigi, Edem, Magnom, Juls, WondaBoy, Peeweezil, C-Real, J-Town, M3dal, Raquel to name a few.

https://soundcloud.com/dredw-producer/chocro-milo-prod-by-dredw

DJ Juls Portrays The Ghana Life in “Agoro” Video

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Every day is a happy time for Ghanaians; our dire economic situations notwithstanding. That sense of camaraderie and joyousness is brilliantly captured in ‘Agoro’, new video by Juls featuring highlife acts Adekunle Gold (Nigeria) and Bisa K’Dei (Ghana).

What is striking about the video is the quality of colour grading. Its gold dust appeal cast the scenery of Gbese, Jamestown (formerly British Accra) in a stunning manner.

It follows the journey of Juls to his grandpa’s hometown (Gbese) and ends up having a jolly time with Adekunle Gold and Bisa K’Dei, along with fellow ‘Jamestowners’.

The video portrays the life daily of Ghanaians living in the inner cities and reflect some of the recreational activities common to them. The Willowbrook bus ride through the streets of Jamestown, strolling goats, (apologize to AccradotAlt), football games, kids playing ‘tomato’ (hop scorch) and ampe as well as ‘cloth parachutes’ are snapshot of daily lives.

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Then comes the party hour where Juls, Bisa K’Dei and Adekunle Gold joined others in a game of draughts, cards (spar) and palm wine drinking, amidst dance and merry making, feeding into the ‘Agoro’ theme (Agoro means play in Twi). Ko-Jo Cue, Shaker and Adomaa make cameo appearances.

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As his fame had soured, so has the quality of his videos. Juls is curating well-conceived visuals with incredible story lines that reflect his history (a Ghanaian and African) and status as a global and urban guy. ‘Agoro’ is the latest addition in a rich video vault.

Watch video below:

Watch M.anifest’s Artistic Dance Interpretation of ‘Simple Love’ (A Short Film)

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M.anifest has always been stylistic with his artistic creations. From his music to visual representation of songs, the rapper has found a way to showcase his art (videos) in different forms. His recently released short film ‘Simple Love’ attest to this observation.

‘Simple Love’ is a spectacular dance interpretation of the song. It follows the brilliant display of a female ballerina in search of love in a sea of people.

The video director, Makera Thekasi’s decision to film at the bustling Tema landing beach and capturing the excellently choreographed ballet dance in slow motion has the viewer following every inch of the dancer’s movement.

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A poignant scene in the video begins at the 3:23 second mark, where she finally finds her lover (or so she thought). After a moment of flirtation, and scrutiny, she gestures to him (played by M.anifest) to follow her lead, something he staunchly refuse.

 

Heartbroken, she ‘runs’, and ‘screams’ out her disappointment or pain, expressed through her stooping posture, hands and head to the sky and general body language. Her search for simple love has proven futile.

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Another interesting moment in the film was towards the end when a TMT (The Money Team) inscribed sandal is captured. I can’t tell if that shot was accidentally captured or it was scripted.

Whatever the case may be, the TMT sandals does contrast with a line in the song’s chorus: I want a Simple Love/Money cannot buy‘. Well, love is expensive and purchasable.

Watch video below

Writers Project Ghana Host Professor Carina Ray At a Special Reading

Carina-Ray

In our second public event for 2018, Writers Project of Ghana presents author Carina Ray, associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University, at a public reading and interaction.

This will take place from 6.30 PM at the Writers Project of Ghana office, Haatso, Accra, on Friday, 23rd February, 2018.

Carina Ray is a scholar of race and sexuality, comparative colonialisms and nationalisms, migration and maritime history and the relationship between race, ethnicity, and political power. Carina’s research is primarily focused on Ghana and its diasporas.

Carina is the author of the book Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana, winner of the American Historical Association’s 2016 Wesley-Logan Book Prize, the African Studies Association’s 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize, and finalist for the United Kingdom African Studies Association’s Fage and Oliver Book Prize.

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Carina’s new book project, a trilogy, engages conceptions of blackness, the body, and human difference, as well as processes of race making and identity transformation across the precolonial, colonial, and post-independence periods in Ghana. She is also the editor of the newly established Cambridge University Press book series, African Identities, editor of Ghana Studies, and member of the Board of Editors of The American Historical Review and History in Africa.

Join us as for an afternoon with Professor Carina Ray on February 23rd 2018 for an informative and interactive session. Copies of her books will be on sale.

Date: Friday, 23rd February, 2018

Time: 6.30 PM – 8.00 PM

Venue: WPG Office, Haatso, Accra. (Third junction to the right along the Agbogba – Ashongman Road, heading from Agbogba junction towards Ashongman).

Click here for a link to Google Maps.

Click here for a map.

Admittance is Free.

 

Tribute: “Super OD” Brought Happiness To Many Homes.

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The death of veteran actor and comedian, Asonaba Kweku Darko, known by many as “Super O. D.” was reported on Tuesday 12th February, 2018 at the Agona Swedru Government Hospital in the Central Region. He was 82 years.

The actor/comedian’s peerless screen performances brought torrents of happiness to many homes. His side-splitting jokes- which he got from his mother, known as ‘Jack Johnson’- earned was his endearing charm.

Super OD, who stumbled on acting by accident had always nurtured a dream of becoming a policeman. “Becoming a policeman had always been my wish and therefore there could not have been any better deal for me than this.”

But, twice he was rejected due to his lack of formal education, attributed to the early death of his father and his mother’s dire economic situation. His earlier job as a Native Authority Policeman (Ahenfie Police) in 1958 wasn’t enough guarantee into the police force.

In need of a trade, Super OD became a driver’s mate, acquiring of a driver’s license after six years of apprenticeship. He gained employment as a taxi driver. He however, lost that job after a while. That loss was a turning point in his life. It marked his entry into acting, which began whiles lodging with a friend at Labadi and working as a labourer for the company constructing the Cantonment Police Station.

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It was around that time that the ‘Appiah Agyekum Concert Party’ came to Labadi to perform. He joined the band as a backing vocalist. Sharing jokes during performances, Super OD soon realized his popularity was soaring. He began performing with different concert groups including Akwasi Effah’s Band, Happy Stars, Akomanyi’s Guitar Band and Oppong Kyekyeku Guitar Band which he stuck with.

Realizing the band owner was given them a raw deal, all the members of the Oppong Kyekyeku Band resigned from the band, leading to the formation of the S.K Oppong Drama Group. The group, comprising S.K Oppong, Super OD, Frimpong Manso, Fred Addae, Beatrice ‘Bea’ Kissi and Akua Boahemaa, the group became the resident drama group of the African Brothers Band led by highlife legend Nana Ampadu in the 1960s. It was uncommon for highlife bands of the 70s to have concert party groups attached to them. The concert party groups (theatre groups) acted as opening acts for the band during tours by staging sketches to entertain the audience.

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The group’s move from the stage to television happened during a performance of ‘Aku Sika’, a play by playwright Prof. Martin Owusu. A director at the state owned broadcaster (GBC) was thrilled by their performance. That led to the creation of the TV series ‘Akan Drama’ on GBC TV. The group’s name was changed from ‘Oppong Drama Group’ to ‘Osofo Dadzie’ Group (Pastor Dadzie) on the recommendation of the script writer of the series director, Joris Wartenberg.

Between the late 80s to the mid-90s, Super OD and members of Osofo Dadzie educated and entertained millions of Ghanaians through their enacted of real life situations geared mostly towards shaping morals of the citizenry. Those were the days when TV was a luxury and owned by the rich within the community. Whenever it was time for Osofo Dadzie, the homes of those with TV became a convergence point for people in the neighborhood.

Remembered for his stellar acting along with Kwadwo Kwakye and Fred Addae and his famous phrase: ‘This is fantastic’. (This phrase has been immortalized by M3nsa on his song “Kelewele Pimping”).

Despite his many memorable performance, one scene had stuck in my mind all these years. It was a scene in a movie where Super OD was sent to deliver a message to someone. As a custom, he was served water (ice water he preferred). Realizing how uncouth his slurping was, he turned to the lady who had served him the water and as an apology said ‘I am from far away’.

Super OD’s talent wasn’t only reserved for TV. His stellar performances led to him starring in movies like ‘Double Trouble’, ‘Crossfire’, all produced by HM Films. The movies further enhanced his status as a talented actor.

Super OD retired backed to his hometown of Abodom in the Agona Swedru District until his death. If you ever hear the assertion that Fantes are comedians, know that Super ODs exceptional performances helped in entrenching this erroneous notion.

May the man who brings joy to many be forever remembered.