Ebony Tackles Domestic Violence on “Maame Hwe” Video

It’s the renowned Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei who said that ‘art can be used to change society’. The test of an artists worth is their ability to speak about or use their influence to cause societal change.

For many, Ebony’s new song and video ‘Maame Hwe’ may be a surprise for the simple fact that, she may be the last person to use her music to draw attention to such an important subject as domestic violence.

Ebony divides attention. Her adoption of a ‘bad girl’ image as an artistic brand seems to split opinions in this conservative society of ours.

Her costume, raunchy videos and highly sexualized lyrics have been a subject of debate over a couple of weeks leading to some men of God calling on her to dress decently or risk incurring God’s wrath. Some lawyers have suggested to the police to arrest her for indecent exposure.

To hear a song and video that drift far away from the ‘bad girl’ image of Ebony may cause of some of her critics to have a change of heart. Or, have a rethink of who she is and stands for.

‘Maame Hwe’ translates as ‘My Mother, Look’ (or see). It’s a Twi expression used to confirm an earlier concern raised or observation made by someone before it became manifest. On this song, Ebony echos the sentiments of an abused lady who rejected her mum’s advice.

One day you’ll know/ These are the words of my mother/ As I’m getting old/ Ebi now wey I dey remember…/ A young girl like me shouldn’t be caught with an old school fool – Ebony, “Maame Hwe”

The mum advised her daughter against marrying a man she thought had questionable character. The daughter, blinded by love, ignored this motherly advice and ended up marrying him. The outcome of this relationship: violent abuse.

In a country where little attention is given to issues of domestic violence, the figures available shows how prevalent this act is across the country. Research figures by the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre shows that, 28% of women are abused in relationships. (Their first sex experience was forced).

Globally, the figure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in their November, 2017 report reveal the following:

i. 35% of women (1 in 3) have experienced either physical or sexual intimate violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

ii. 30% of all women in relationships have suffered physical or sexual abuse but intimate partners.

iii. 38% of murders on women were by male intimate partners.

Some of the reasons contributing to the continuation of these abuses in marriages include the patriarchal establishment- which is predominant in our society, lack of education, poverty and more religious attachments, where the Christian and Islamic vows prohibit divorce.

The justifiable grounds for divorce notwithstanding, the advocates of these religions and family members would prevail on the victim (the woman) to stay in and pray for a miracle. The cause of some of these violence are often ascribed to the ‘work of the devil’ rather than acknowledging it as a character flaw.

In the lyrics of the song, Ebony reveals some of the character traits of the man in question: a drunk, drug abuser, a robber and gangster who takes to beating her

Now, e dey beat me every night and day/Maame Hwe/ Used to warn e but I didn’t wanna know

As gleaned from the video, all these traits- drinking, smoking, gambling- are excellently captured by the director, Prince Dovlo. The wife is seen getting smacked by her husband despite playing her part as wife- she cooks for him, which he refuses to eat; she cleans the house as a ‘submissive’ wife should.

One thing that this video aptly points out, and which is often conveniently overlooked is the fact that, being a submissive wife doesn’t guarantee you a ‘safe pass’ against abuse. That is, the argument posited by some that, some women are violently abused because they aren’t submissive women in marital relationships is moot and ridiculous.

And who could forget the rape scene in the video, especially the facial expression of the wife? Her face was as bland as one could imagine; an emotionless soul who has endured such despicable, exhaustive treatment that she has lost all the energy to fight her abuser (husband).

What ‘Maame Hwe’ has over her other songs is this: the lyrics are clear, educative and reflect a societal ill. These would open another window for people to realize the other side of this young female artist.

Often, the lyrics of her songs are overshadowed by her brazen display of her sexual self. That is, her lyrics are interpreted through the prism of her personality albeit, they promote women empowerment and the recognition and embracement of ones ‘femme-ness’. (Same fate befell archetype of sexual liberation, MzBel). In Ebony’s case, it’s like the wrong messenger carrying the right message to the public.

I hope the visual outlook projected by Ebony- her costume especially- would appease the many who have over these couple of weeks severely criticized her dressing. She definitely looked glamorous in that outfit; an African Goddess.

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Odunsi The Engine’s “In The Morning” Drips With 90s Delight

Watching the video of ‘In The Morning’, the new visuals from producer, singer/songwriter, Odunsi The Engine, I got transported back to the mid-90s, when the Ghanaian movie scene was taking shape.

The Kwame Dracula directed video seems to have taken a little inspiration from the 90s era, when African filmmakers were figuring out how to produce very quality pictures.

The video is an excursion into the mind of Odunsi after finding ‘love’ at a party. We see him wearing a despondent facial expression, sitting on the floor, one leg stretched out, and a bottle of drink by his side in the opening scene of the video.

‘In the Morning’ video is a party scene, where Odunsi and friends are seen having fun. Magnetized by a lovely lady, Odunsi begins to harbour wild imaginations. The vocalization of his intent is through glances and toothpaste smiles. In the end, the two meet in a room. We are transported back to Odunsi sitting on the floor on the next scene.

The video blends a retro feel-evidenced by the picture grading- with a modern aura. The scenes are fast paced; the beat carries a happy glow- the Lumidee ‘Never Leave Me’ drumline can’t be missed. To give the video an ‘old school’ feel, the director deliberately splashes statics and graphics reminiscent of old videos.

Kwame Dracula’s use of light stands out as well; bringing out the varying yet impressionable dark shades of skin of his characters. The colours and vibrant and lush, yet not blinding. And if I may ask, what’s this laid back, shy guy expressions of Odunsi in videos?

Recognized as one of the new voices from Nigeria pushing the new sound from Africa, Odunsi The Engine’s talent, first as a producer and a singer/songwriter. His debut EP TOOL captured the imagination of many. He continued to build on his new found acceptance by collaborating and producing for the like of Nonso Amadi, Tay Iwar.

Watch the video below

Mark Asari Shows His R&B Side on “Minus To Plus” EP

Steeped in mid- 90s R&B sound “Minus To Plus” is a celebration of love, success and a better future.

The late 80s and the early 90s babies had their teenage years defined by R&B music. From memorizing and karaoking some of the soul bearing lyrics from black American singers to slipping few romantic lines into letters to their childhood crushes, R&B music was a precious gift that many held on to with great care.

By the end of the 2000s, the appeal of that genre was beginning to wane. Artists who were once noted as proponents of that genre began to bend over to a new genre that wasn’t much a favorite of black American populace.

By the middle of new millennium, pop music (majorly a white genre) was stealing R&B artists away to it’s side. The reasons range from it’s popularity to it’s economic appeal. R&B market, compared to the pop music market, was very insignificant and the need to profit and expand their fanbase into a white demographic meant creating the kind of music that serves their interest.

That gradual switch in focus, however led to the gradual demise of R&B from their main music space. This development had led to some music critics to label R&B a dying genre. But, it appears the revitalization of R&B is gradually happening. That’s a conversation for another day.

For an artist, and for that matter a new one, to choose to go the R&B route on a project, in a market that accept pop induced music readily, could be seen as unimaginable since a pop record(s) is a surest bet for a new artist to earn acceptability. But, this isn’t the preoccupation of Ghanaian-UK act Mark Asari.

His 6 track EP, “Minus To Plus”, is an enterprise in self reflection, celebration of self and self belief. As the EP title indicate, “Minus To Plus” is about growth; it’s about resilience; and about victory. Mark Asari obviously has chalked some losses and wins in his life, especially in his career as a musician.

Steeped in mid- 90s R&B sound – with it’s mellow vibe, catchy melodies and mid-tempo feel- “Minus To Plus” is a celebration of love, success and a better future.

Mark Asari’s nasal falsetto offering peels through the kick and bass driven beats. The second song- which is also the title of EP- is a victory celebration. He sings about making it as these lyrics reflect: ‘School of hard knocks, I guess I’ve learnt enough’. He proceeds with, ‘I’m numb to the pain, I’m numb to the love, I’m numb to the hate’. These experiences are the backwood on which he’s floating to success : ‘Riding through the city with my windows off‘. Mark solicits help from Geovarn, whose voice is a something close to Bryson Tiller- sends caution to all the fake love spreading girls to stay back now that he’s successful.

Issues of love is dominant on the EP as heard on the opener ‘Ain’t Gotta Talk’, a request for a girl to back up her words with action (let your action speaks louder/You can’t be here selling a dream). The calamatic side of this joyous affair is heard on the Tion Wayne assisted, guitar synths and flashing piano chords dominating, heartbreak story ‘Baby Yo’.

The ebullient ‘Stay With Me’ carries a ‘ride-or-die-chick’ theme while ‘Me & You’ touches on a spending a life with a loved one. Whereas the beats on ‘Stay With Me’ sounds like something from Timberland’s playbook (think his drum heavy works on a Timberlake song), ‘Me & You’ tilt towards more traditional R&B influence.

The closing song ‘God Bless My Hustle’, despite it’s message of praying for godly mercies disrupts the feel of the EP. ‘God Bless My Hustle’ is a more up tempo, afropop song which doesn’t fit the overall R&B mood of the album. Perhaps, not a big deal but it snuffs something away from “Minus To Plus”.

Technically, Mark Asari’s shrill voice was within a perfect range. The producers did their best to highlight it’s beauty since poor mastering could have made his voice so piercing.

R&B might be on a downward slope, sad to say. But, for some artists who grew up on this genre of music, departing from it would be unthinkable. They’d rather be part of recuscitating the genre than abandoning it. And Mark Asari belongs to this brave crop of artists.

Press Release: KayMad Present ”BOUGAINVILLEA”

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KayMad is a rapper and creative artiste at dZZZdope, Inc. who wrote and recorded “Bougainvillea”, a neo-soul tape. According to him, ”Bougainvillea’ expresses my thoughts on life, psycho social pressure, Afro-socialization, depression and suicide: which has a period of time, developed into a bigger body of work to be exhibited this month. The project covers very sensitive topics and features a number of writers and content creators from Ghana and a feature by South African painter, Yolanda “Yodaart” Mazwana”.

In its entirety, Bougainvillea will feature a “five-song tape”, over 25 frames of Writings, paintings, photo sets and a big installation by myself.

Overview of Project

“Bougainvillea”, is an art installation and exhibition by Justice “KayMad” Biney of dZZZdope, Inc. The installation features 20+ framed pieces, 10+ paintings and 2 installations. The exhibition will be headlined by the “Flower Talk”, a three day session that will run from 3-5 PM at the Garden Madiba (African Ark) in Dawhenya.

The gallery will open at 9 A.M on the 13th of December, and would host the exhibition and talk sessions and will close on the 15th of December. As curated by dZZZdope and Garden Madiba, the exhibition will feature writings and paintings by Calvin Ayivie, Otema Yirenkyi, Norvi Esther, Jeffery Agyemang, Fafanyo, Abubakar Lykay, Yolanda Mazwana, Ella Woode and a host of writers and content creators across the continent.

Goals of Project

i. The installations and art pieces should be able to revive energies and create an environment for deeper thinking and self-evaluation as well as resounding assurance for the youth.

ii. To assist individuals facing psychosocial pressure and to suppress suicidal thoughts and create a positive impression about journeys.

Specifications

The exhibition will follow time allocations strictly on set dates. Visitors are allowed to watch, interpret and share across all Social Media but touching, physical altering or removal of any installation or art piece is prohibited.

All Talk Sessions begin at 3PM to 5PM on all days. The entrance toll will be communicated via crew and media representatives across all Social Media.

DAY 1 (13th December, 2017)

“We have come to inspire, to push a generation of geniuses into solutions way sober, to enlighten mankind and to embrace love” – KayMad

Opening Days ans Set

The exhibition will open at 12 P.M. on the 13th of December

Opening Brief + Flower Talk

The opening address and first Flower Talk session will start at 3 P.M. followed by the first performance of the BOUGAINVILLEA TAPE and interpretive conversations.

DAY 2 (14th December, 2017)

The exhibition will resume at 9 A.M. for visitors. The Flower Talk (Soul House Edition) will follow through at 3P.M with another performance of the ‘’Bougainvillea Tape’’. (Sales will be open for buyers to place orders)

DAY 3 (15th December, 2017)

The exhibition opens for sales of ordered prints and Auction Sale of “Dear 5 – 21,” starting at 3,500 Ghana Cedis. The Flower Talk will feature other speakers sharing their personal stories and guidance trails to assist other travelers.

The DJ Set starts from 10 P.M. on Friday, the 15th.

Location Details

The Garden is situated on the right side of the Tema – Aflao (on the left from Aflao -Tema), a few meters before the Dawhenya Entrance Bridge.

Please use the name “Terrazzo” for public commuting to the Garden.

 

Concert Review: A FOKN Party The Rains Couldn’t Stop

Half way through their set, the rains began to fall; first in drops and latter in sheets. Earlier in the afternoon, the city had been washed by rains. But, the party wouldn’t be stopped by the showers. The adrenaline was high and the rains, it appears invigorated the fans even more.

The venue, Alliance Francaise wasn’t full when the party commenced. But, people trickled in as the show progressed. The venue was almost full a few performances later.

And the Fokn Bois – consisting of Wanlov The Kubolor and M3nsa- as usual, kept the audience excited throughout their two-and-half hour set.

What is fascinating about the Fokn Bois and their concerts is this: they are able to re-invent their performances each time they mount the stage. You can see them ten times performing the same songs yet, you wouldn’t have two sets being the same.

Their performance was a combination of comic dramatization, serious political commentaries, introduction of new artists -Fiddy and 730 (Seven Thirty) and of course, a strange appearance by a certain Donald Trump. (You read right). Ironically, this was during the performance of ‘Help America’, a humanitarian chant.

They performed songs from their classic album, “FOKN Wit Ewe” and “FOKN Ode To Ghana”. It wasn’t much about the songs they performed on the night. It was the manner it was performed that would stay with the many who were present.

The impressive backdrops and the dramatic interpretations of some songs handed their set a theatrical feel. It was like watching a musical being performed by master actors.

They had two ‘gays’ on stage to help dramatize the lyrically visual song ‘Strong Homosexual Guys’. The acting- from Wanlov being awoken by a phone call, to the ‘gays’ chasing them- as unexpected as it was-added to the overall excitement, especially when they got chased around on stage and through the audience. The backdrop did change with each song, including a Bruce Lee and a crop of lawyers during the performance of ‘Famous In China’ and ‘Laughing At Cripples’.

“Sextra Terrestrial Sex” went with a space odyssey backdrop adorned with graphics images of aliens, space ships and galactic impressions. Sitting on a couch, rapping out lyrics felt like two old buddies relaxing at a porch casually daydreaming about sexual escapades with aliens.

When we thought we’ve seen it all, they, like politicians on a podium, read out a joint ‘speech’. The speech, as politically and socially toned as they were, were taken from four songs off their “Fokn Ode To Ghana” album- ‘Live The Highlife’ (The price of lies/ the price of lies dey rise/ The price be right/ To my cit it taste nice), ‘Muga Yaro’, ‘One for Aniki’, ‘Africanspirit’.

They called on stage Medikal who joined them performed their new single ‘Wo Nim Mi’ (You Know Me). Watching the Fokn Bois on stage is amazing. Their ability to improvise and even crack jokes and start little off the cuff conversations is in itself an art. And on the night, we witnessed many of these instances.

The fever pitch moment, interestingly coincided with the rains; something they jokingly described as a godly ejaculation session. Fans weren’t perturbed. They joined the Fokn Bois in the performance of what had became a cult favorites: ‘Gimmie Pinch’, ‘Broken Lngwjz’ and ‘Super Chompia’. And when they were done with their set, the audience requested them to perform ‘Beeches’, which they had no objections to.

Like all their concerts, the Fokn Bois performed live. They had on stage a MacBook Pro which contained the instrumentations of their songs; some were a re-creation of the original.

The only downside on the night was the discomfort that some of their lyrics caused among some of the elderly folks who were in attendance. I couldn’t help but notice the facial expression of discomfort on the face of one elderly man who sat two places from me. He had his young family with him as well and hearing the Fokn Bois sing about genitalias obviously was uncomfortable.

But again, this is a Fokn Bois concert where irreverence rules. Like I always say, the FOKN Bois are masters of their trade. And they keep proving why they are one of the best performing artists in the country, by far.

Photos used in this article are sourced from the twitter pages of @revyboadu @mutomboDaPoet @arkiim_ @_kwnbnx @dadaeli_

Samini’s “My Own” Proves His Old Self Is Alive

Samini has been in the news for a couple of days, thanks to the unfortunate incident that played out during the “S Concert” a few weeks ago. Scheduled to perform, he left the venue after feeling disrespected by the organizers – they kept him waiting for over four hours backstage, according to him . For any unbiased watcher, Samini was very much justified in taking that action and subsequent explanations by the organizers confirmed this.

But for that incident, Samini’s name would have been mentioned not in the same sentence as ‘controversy’. Rather, it would have been because of music. His song, “My Own” scores high on many fronts. The song is a reminder of what has been ‘missing’ from Samini, specifically his music over a period of time.

For almost a year now, he has been embroiled in a beef with another dancehall artist, Shatta Wale. Shatta has constantly thrown series of shades at Samini over who is the hottest dancehall artist in the country. This beef had elicited similar responses from Samini, who persistently tried to alert all that he is still the ace on the dancehall front.

Beefs are, as I have argued elsewhere, good for the industry since it has the tendency to draw attention to a genre of music, the artists and overall music scene of the country if it doesn’t assume a ballistic (violent) nature. It also helps the creative process of the artists. In the case of Samini, the beef led to him losing touch with himself; what distinguished him from fellow ‘dancehallers’, and what endeared him to many of his fans. The downside of beefs are that, the aggressor always has the advantage since they dictate the pace.

The veteran Samini lost it, not because he isn’t good or the best to ever do it, but because he couldn’t keep up with the frequency of diss records Shatta Wale kept releasing. It’s common knowledge that Shatta is like an industrial machine that keeps churning out products with little stress.

Despite these spanner in the wheels moments for Samini, he has taken a step away from the beefing space. The outcome of this decision is his song ‘My Own’.

‘My Own’ is not steeped in the hardcore, hard drums drenched dancehall vibe. Samini didn’t spread that timbring, husky and smokey voice over this song either. What he did was to take a more softer, elegant approach.

The love themed ‘My Own’ is a cross between highlife and lovers rock. The tone is mid-tempo. Samini’s voice is very clear and enjoyable. The song celebrates love, with Samini chronicling how his lover stood by his side during his struggling years.

The anecdotes shared are mostly real life situations which many could relate to. Samini details how she was with him when he was unemployed, had no place to live or had no money to take care of her. His unfortunate condition, notwithstanding, his lover kept faith and stood by him in the rain.

It’s said today that, it’s hard finding a ‘ride or die’ girlfriends (men are trash, of course). This song is a reminder not to give up on a girl who has held you down through the low swings of life. Be thankfully for their presence and celebrate them every dime time when you make it.

The tone of ‘My Own’ is a reminder of Samini between 2006-2010, arguably his finest years. This was the period when most of his songs were national hits due to it’s tone and reflection of reality of life. Most of these songs also carried this afro dancehall/lovers rock tone. Mention could be made of ‘Odo’, ‘Movement’, ‘My Baby’ and ‘Sweet Mistake’.

What these songs had in similarities are the lovers rock tone of the songs, the clear twi spoken, the themes of life and love, and the overall melodies that were present on these songs. Samini had producers like Quik Action and JMJ understood the musical philosophy of Samini. The results chalked include Samini bagging a MOBO Award in 2006 and the ‘Artiste of The Year’ Award in 2007 at the MTN Ghana Music Awards.

It is therefore disturbing to come across online comments that seek to diminish or question the legacy of Samini. Even if these critics seek to obliterate his legacy (which would be a foolish attempt), they can’t deny the fact that his success was like a burning torch that lightened the dancehall path for of today’s artists. From General Marcus to Sonni Bali; from Pricky Yardey to Yoggi Doggie, none was as successful and huge as Samini.

‘My Own’ hasn’t been an instant hit as some of his previous works. The reasons could be quiet myriad. I sense ‘My Own’ to fall within those type of songs that grow in popularity as it ages. That’s, its popularity grows gradually over a period of time.

But then again, the excitement for me, lies in the fact that, Samini has tapped into his old vault and released a song that bears trait with some of his standout records that earned him such attention, establishing him as one of the best artists in the country. I hope he won’t get himself distracted from what matters to him and his fans.

THE CUTS: EP 02 VOL. 13: Joey B’s “Sweetie Pie” and videos from other artists

THE CUTS is your weekly round-up of songs and videos-and anything that has caught our attention and think you must hear or see. The music featured here aren’t genre specific. ——————————————— Joey B feat King Promise – Sweetie Pie Joey B is lately not just dropping singles but visuals to accompany the songs; sometimes at the same time or within 24 hours of release. That trend began with the release of the nostalgia evoking ’89’ earlier this year. He followed the template with singles off the Darryl EP- ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Ranger’, and now, his new smooth and groovy ‘Sweetie Pie’ doesn’t depart from this trend. I love Joey B when he sing-raps. His thin voice and laid back persona permeates the song, giving it a feeling of appeal and coziness. These are what ‘Sweetie Pie’ boast. Featuring singer King Promise (who one YouTube comment described as a ‘virus’ for his recent musical ubiquitousness), the two trade voices and exalt the lovely virtues of their lovers: ‘your sugary lips are the sweetest’, For non- Ghanaian readers, ‘Sweetie Pie’ is a slang used to describe a very lovely or special person in one’s life. In the context of this song, Joey B, along with King Promise are telling the world how much they value the women in their lives. What makes this song such a potential hit (it’s Joey B anyway) is it’s feet moving groove, sing along hook, simple lyrics and the nostalgic feeling it offers, courtesy that Kofi Nti and Ofori Amponsah ‘Odo Ndwom’ interpolation. (He applauds them highly in the videos closing comments). The influence of legendary highlife crooner, Ofori Amponsah on Joey B is becoming apparent, and it’s something to be proud about. Joey is acknowledging a brilliant veteran artist and also helping re-introduce these old classics to a new and younger generation. Joey B enlisted Yaw Skyface for directorial duties for the video for ‘Sweetie Pie’. And like the experienced videographer he is, he let the location, coordination and the joyous intimacy breeze through the video. The location is absolutely stunning, especially the drone view of the valley of township and greenery nature of the location. The dance scene between King Promise and Joey B towards the end of the video looked superb, the costuming and the seeming playfulness adds to the video’s appeal. https://youtu.be/zY-NLE0SwLI GURU – Only You https://youtu.be/5grim0-GGe8 Guru qualifies as one of the most hardworking artists in the country, judging by the number of songs and videos he has released this year alone. His new video for ‘Only You’, a betrayal of love themed song is all glossy and pristine. Salifu Abdul Hafiz shows captures Guru riding through streets of Dubai, in a Rolls Royce, with the thoughts of a cheating wife playing in his mind. Unsure of his wife’s fidelity, he plants a secret camera (in the eye of a teddy bear) which confirmed his suspicions. It’s not a Dubai shot video if one of the city’s iconic landmarks , The Burj Al Arab and, at least a belly dancing scene isn’t featured. One curious question worth asking is how Guru continues to be regarded a ‘second tier’ artist despite his enormous catalogue- songs and videos? Diamond Platnumz feat Rick RossWaka https://youtu.be/q1iHgDTplfw Tanzanian act, Diamond Plantnuz is the latest African artist to join forces with American hip hop act Rick Ross on a song. ‘Waka’ carries an R&B tinge and is a celebration of life and success song, which are well reflected in the video. Diamond is seen in a party mood- enjoying the company of women-both indoors and by the pool, popping Bellaire bottles and teaching Rick Ross some dance moves. The video appears to have been shot in Miami and boast of elements visible in most Moe Musa directed videos. Hopefully, this collaboration with Rick Ross may get the ‘Sikomi’ hitmaker visible in the Americas. OTI- Lost https://youtu.be/6b2SxS-40qA Rapper OTI remains a fascinating figure to me since I first saw him. My interest led me to listen to ‘Truth’, off his mixtape “Untold Story”. Two things piqued my interest: his ability to lace a story and his consistent spread of positivism on wax. ‘Lost’ is his recent work. He shot the video in New York. ‘Lost’ talks about life, friendship and daily hustle. With a style reflective of hip hop icon, Notorious BIG (whose painting hanged from a restaurant wall OTI was relaxing), OTI paints a picture of his struggles: ‘Oh God, I was down on my last/Looking around for the cash’. He touches on about untrustworthiness: ‘the same ones who clown with you and laugh/ be the niggas who’ll be scheming/turn around and blast’, although he believes your problem’s my problem/ we y’all in deep’. He’s shown watching old tapes of himself rapping during his time in Ghana.