Video: M.anifest Loves Azumah Nelson

 

 

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M.anifest has an interesting way of handing titles to his songs. These titles aren’t chosen for fanciful purposes. They are to highlight his position and pedigree within the music space. Song titles like ‘godMC’, ‘Bear’, ‘Ozymandias’, ‘Damn You Rafiki’ all have inherent messages embedded within them.

So is the case with ‘’Azumah Nelson Flow’’, the latest video released by M.anifest; which he began teasing out a couple of weeks ago via tweets and a short trailer video. “Azumah Nelson Flow” is a homage paying title to the greatest pugilist Ghana as country, Africa as continent and the world has seen ramble in the ring. It also doubles as a toast to the 60th birthday of the man we know as ‘The Boxing Professor’.

The song has M.anifest drawing parallels between his rap abilities and the boxing talent of the much beloved boxer, Azumah. ‘’It’s the return of the god so press record/I speak my piece I’m a beast no peace accord/ The pen is a sword I’m a samurai of course/ Sum it all up I dey job, be rest assured’’, he raps, making a forceful point about his talent and gift of standing unscathed even when the danger seems ominous.

 

The video for “Azumah Nelson Flow” bears resemblance to many from M.anifest’s visual vault: a snapshot of the activities of ordinary, everyday people within the city of Accra, like was the case on his heralded ‘Someway Bi’ track. Directed by Makere Thekiso, the video combines footages from ‘’Me Ne Woa’’ and ‘’Simple Love’’; two videos that Makere Thekiso directed for the rapper.

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The video begins with the famous victory speech of Azumah Nelson after knocking out British boxer Pat Cowdell. The fight took place in 1985. Azumah mentioned how the West doesn’t want Africans to win despite their efforts and ‘want to prove to them I’m the best in the world’. With this as the backdrop-a statement M.anifest identifies with- the video cast scenes from the beaches of Tema and from the banks of the Odaw river. The director, Makere artistically juxtaposes some of the scenes with M.anifest’s lyrics for effects. (Watch from 0.45 seconds and 2: 17 seconds where he makes the wavy and Paris references). Included in the video are scenes of boxing gyms were both the young and old are training and sparing with one another.

Finally, M.anifest is joined by Azumah Nelson inside a boxing gym. Outside the gym, the two pose in front of a canvas with images of three famous sons of Jamestown -Azumah Nelson, Floyd ‘Klutei’ Robertson and Arthur Wharton. (Floyd was a featherweight champion of the 50s & 60s with a total fight record of 51, winning 31, 13 loses and 4 draws. Arthur Wharton, a Ghanaian goalkeeper is considered the first black to play in the British Football League). The producer of the song, Rvdical The Kid also makes a cameo.

No Ghanaian sportsman has received the same kind of love from his fellow citizens like Azumah Nelson. This level of love was reciprocated by the Boxing Hall of Famer whenever he stepped in the ring to fight; not for personal glory but to defend the good name of Ghana. For those old enough to remember, the whole nation woke up during his fight nights to watch him step into the ring. The nation is always thrown into a state of euphoria whenever he wins. And when he loses, the somberness that surround the country is usually telling. For ten years, the ‘Zoom Zoom’ Nelson ruled the Featherweight division like his kingdom. By comparing himself to him, M.anifest isn’t selling his credentials but honouring the name of the legend.

Watch ”Azumah Nelson Flow” video below

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THE CUTS: EP 03 Vol. 20

THE CUTS is a short review of songs, videos or albums that we think you need to hear or watch. The music is not genre and/or region specific. Once it is good, it will be covered here. THE CUTS is available each FRIDAY


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Laura Lora – Rebel

One of the best things about music or being an artist is, you can speak your peace and your words would connect with others. Laura Lora’s ‘Rebel’ is her cathartic session-she is airing out her frustrations about getting misunderstood. ‘Y3 fr3 me rebel/they ain’t never seen nothing like me/ so they get the bible/ all they wanna do is pray for’, she sings on the synths and piano stub hook. The sentiments expressed on the hook reveals how every sort of rebellion against a system is misconstrued as work of the devil.

At 22 years, Laura is at that point in life where she needs no distractions, especially from those who find her ways unconventional (‘humble, traditional bullshit and nonsense pissing my ears’). The challenges of adulthood aside, Laura contends with identity crisis in the second verse: ‘not African enough, not American enough, never woman enough, goddam who made these laws’, she wonders. Basking in a low tempo, dull glow, Laura’s voice float atop the beat. She sounds fearless; like one who is fed up with the stereotypical construct of society. She wants to be free. She indeed sounds like a rebel.

Jon Foli – Late Night (Her Last Note)

Jon Foli’s music is message driven-whether it’s about love or social issues-he clothes them in stories. Off his new EP, ‘’Tear Stains on Blue Satin’ comes ‘’Late Night’’ (Her Last Note), a song inspired by the sad demise of a university student through an alleged suicide. Jon Foli raps about how the weight of expectations from parents affect their beloved kids negatively, leading to some taking, sometimes bad decisions. ‘’On Late Night’’, he intimates how his love for his parents and readiness to make them proud. But, their absence from home and lack of personal relationship between him and them keeps the distance of intimacy far off. This means they don’t get to see the pressure he’s reeling under. The song is his apology for taking away his life.

The 8 track album has songs like soulful ‘’Desires’’; a song about feeling unappreciated. ‘’Wash Away’’ has him musing about his crush over bass, kicks and heavy piano chords. One could see traces of J. Cole on this song. Jon Foli sings about the complications of human relationships where a simply call or text could resolve every strand of foolishness away on ‘Missed Calls’. On ‘If I Could’, he talks about how ego and pride could ruin something perfect. The increasing addiction to social media and how it’s taking over our lives is addressed on ‘Technology’. Closing the album is ‘Losing Interest’ featuring Dean. The two describe how they moved on after a breakup. TSOBS showcases the rapping and singing skills of Jon Foli and his love for storytelling and good content. Even though he doesn’t possess the voice of a god, his singing is good, something I enjoyed listening to. He should consider singing some more.

Zarion Uti feat PsychoYP –Aye

Hard work beget success. Doubters can’t get into your heard if you know what you want especially when your pursuit doesn’t fall within the crafts considered conventional. For Nigerian afro soul artist, he has one goal and that’s making it in music. Over a mellow trap beat, Zarion addresses those who doubted his ambitions and said he may ‘never fly around the globe’ or drive a nice car. The featured Psycho YP, like Zarion carries same mindset: ’just 19 but I’m tryana buy some land, Got to intervene cos they wanna change the plan’. His raps gave the song a bit of energy and balance. Aye is one of those songs that sucks you in from the beginning to end, thanks to its melody, catchy rhythms and relatable lyrics.

DanQuah – Selfish (Cover) Refix

DanQuah hands ‘Selfish’, the breakout hit of King Promise a new look by laying a rap verse to it. Maintaining the beat and the hook, DanQuah fills the song with raps about love. He celebrates the qualities of the girl in his life, like how she ‘builds a big barrier between you and your foes’, the fights and the amends, and how she isn’t swayed by the antics of other guys. DanQuah makes it clear in his raps that she is more like a best friend than a lover. A graduate of KNUST, DanQuah began rapping in Senior High School. After a break from making music, DanQuah has picked the mic again with this cover being his first release.

Azizz – Summer Time

The Chicago singer has a jam perfect for the summer season. ‘’Summer Time’’, as the song is titled, celebrates women across the world, especially the melanin possessing damsels over an afro beat sound tampered with a dancehall/Caribbean vibe. On the mid-tempo song, Aziz sings ‘your melanin girl, it got me stuck on you/can I have a taste of you? / You know I got sweet tooth’. Dancehall artist Jah Shanti pops up, dropping some Caribbean vibe to the tune. His musically toned voice is a necessary addition. It gave the song this positive effect. ‘Summer Time is the first single since the release of ‘Mood EP’. Interestingly, the song loops the DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince classic ‘Summertime’ bop.

Throwback: GHANA ALL STARS – Stop AIDS, Love Life

I was in my first year at Junior Secondary School when my dad called my siblings and I to talk about the deadly disease AIDS. That was around 1996. It was the first time he ever talked to us about sex, its consequences on life and our future-something many parents did. At that time, the statistics was frightening-about 200 people were getting infected every day according to the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation (GSMF); the government supported body spearheading the stop AIDS campaign.

So, when the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation , with sponsorship from the John Hopkins Foundation decided to use the medium of music to educate and sensitize the Ghanaian public about the menace of AIDS, it was deemed an excellent move.

The song has aged to become a classic. A true bop. The caliber of artists featured on the song were the best in the country at that time and spanned every genre of music – rap, reggae/dancehall, gospel and highlife.

The featured artists included Tic Tac, Chicago, Cy Lover, Cecil Pesewa (of NFL), Friction (of VIP), Reggie Rockstone (representing hiplife); Shasha Marley, Black Prophet, Ras Kobby (for Reggae/dancehall). Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Felix Owusu and Dasebre Dwamena doing it for highlife music, and the gospel wing of Ghana music was ably represented by Stella Dugan (Seal), Diana Hopson and The Shepherds.

The theme of the song was to advice for people to use protection (condom) during casual sex. With 200 people being diagnosed with the virus daily (as the information at the end of video indicated) and unprotected sex being a major mode of transmission, seeing celebrities of such caliber – young, old, ‘worldly’ and ‘godly’- joining voices in the advocacy was very impressive.

Listening to the song, one must give props to the producer who pieced it together on the soundscape of the record: how seamless the genres blend into each other. The initial beat was hip hop soul, with those record scratches by DJ Rab (dude in cap who came on after Shasha’s intro), then segued into a reggae/dancehall vibe before veering back to its soulful tone. The beat programming went with the tone of voices on the song as well. The renditions of Stella Seal, Ras Kobby and Felix Owusu are standouts in my estimation. It exuded this calming effect on the listener.

The AIDS pandemic is under control, thanks to advance in medicine resulting in the birth of anti-retroviral drugs. The campaign, however, is still on-going. Considering how menacing AIDS was in around the 90s, this campaign song was timely and very relevant; even today.

Boomplay Reaches 10 Million Installations on Google Play Store & 29 Million Total User Base

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As a further testament to its leadership and popular acceptance as the foremost music content distribution platform, Boomplay Music, Africa’s fastest growing music streaming and download platform has recorded a milestone 10 million installations off Google Play store.

Boomplay Music’s unique and user-friendly application has made it a top choice for consumers of music and entertainment content. The platform has given millions of Africans unfettered access to millions of songs, videos and entertainment trending news.

It has also provided a rallying point in the digital music ecosystem by driving more customers to mobile music consumption. Boomplay Music’s international best practice in ensuring providers make revenues off their content has made it the toast of local and international artistes and content providers. This is in addition to making sure that intellectual property is protected using the best tech innovations.

It would be recalled that the music content platform was adjudged the ‘Best African App’ at the AppsAfrica Awards, which held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2017. Boomplay emerged as the number one app in Africa from a category strongly contested by other popular apps including Carter – SA, Asorbia – Ghana, Truecaller Africa and Feastfox – SA.

About the new milestone, Sadiq Abdulai Abu, -Boomplay Country Manager, Ghana, said, “This is an important achievement as we work towards entrenching the power of Africa’s No. 1 music app in Ghana. Boomplay provides a refreshingly different experience for music talents and their fans and we look forward to creating a mutually rewarding relationship with the entire Ghanaian music and entertainment ecosystem.

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L–R : Yemi Akinigbabe (Content Acquisition Manager, W/A), Iredumare Opeyemi (Global Head, Legal Content Acquisition & Finance), Ms. Tosin Sorinola (Global Head, Public Relations & Snr. Marketing Manager W/A), Dapo Asekun (Global Head, Content Admin & Customer Service), Oye Akideinde (Regional Director, W/A)

On how the platform has maintained its top position, Mr Oye Akideinde, Regional Director (West Africa), said, “Single companies do not build great ecosystems. Thank you to all the individuals and partners who contributed to Boomplay Music’s 10 Million Installs on Google Play Store. We couldn’t have done it without you. We keep improving based on your feedback, which is so vital for our service’s growth. This new milestone is a step closer to building the largest and most sustainable music ecosystem for artist and fans in Africa’’.

Rising from a modest number of installs when it launched in Google Play store in 2016, the platform rose to 1 million installations in January 2017 and by November of same year, it had risen to 5 million. Its fast-growing streak of installations doubled in June, 2018 to 10 million installations making its total user base 29 million. Boomplay Music is now tipped to reach the 40 million total user base by December 2018 confirming the streaming service as Africa’s fastest rising music service.

The platform parades content from multiple genres such as Highlife, Hiplife, Hip-Hop, Afropop, Reggae and Gospel among others. Some of the biggest names on the platforms include Shatta Wale, Sarkodie, Efya, Stonebwoy, King Promise, Kuame Eugene, Kidi, MzVee, Kwesi Arthur, Daddy Lumba, Wizkid, R2bees, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage Chris Brown, Cardi B amongst others.

The app comes pre-installed on TECNO, Infinix & itel Android devices and is available on Google Play Store for all Android users. iOS version will be made available later in the year 2018.

 

 

 

On ”Nkuro”, Quayba Serves A Trip About Life and its Experiences

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The beam of attention does shine on some quiet early in life and follows them throughout their careers. Others have to wait for a longer period to get their shine even when the scale of their talents maintain same equilibrium. When opportunity and timing combine at the right time, success is bound to happen. The wait for these two important intangibles could be excruciating when they fail to manifest despite giving your all. It can crash your dream into granular material. You could watch the wind blow it away with ease.

For those with strong resolve to wait for the beam of light to fall on their path, they exploit this waiting period to hone their skills, examine which genre they would fit, study the terrain before finally showcasing the full spectrum of their abilities.

Quayba falls within this category. A gifted singer who had to bid her time for years, in her effort at getting her shot. Her new EP, ”Nkuro” is her first real attempt at earning her stripes. From providing vocal services for other artists to performing at ‘low level’ events and spaces, Quayba had made impressions on those who have witnessed her performances; either live or on wax.

Long before I met her at Mixdown studios in 2016, where she was laying harmonies and ad-libs to a song by rapper Trix, I had heard a few of her songs from producer Nel Magnum. And when Fricky released his classic ‘Collector’s Item’ mixtape, the song ‘Past Glory’ caught my attention. Quayba was on it, slitting the track into bits with her soulful vocals. Shortly afterwards, Quayba underwent an identity change. She changed her name Lyanna for Quayba. This identity change began showing in the music she made: soul music stewed in traditionally African rhythms.

Even though ballads seemed like her stronghold, Quayba switched her style up on “Nkuro”, venturing into afrosoul/folk music. The EP ‘catalogues her experiences of growing up in Ghana… she recounts memories and stories of her childhood and explores hope, faith and pursuing dreams’. ‘’Nkuro’’, a Twi word that means ‘to play’ offers you a sneak peek into Ghanaian life- from the culture to its various experiences. The EP oscillates between nostalgic childhood memories (of games she played as a kid) and the experiences of adulthood.

The opening track ‘Chale Wote’- the first single to be released- has Quayba capturing the work hard, play later life mantra: ”Early morning I holler my crew/ what be the rundown, paddy, what be the move?”. Temple, who is featured also backed this assertion in his spirited rap flow (life no be race, let me do my joggin’). ‘Streetlife’ also delves into the daily hustle of life while being optimistic of a great future and as the hook goes: ‘street life e never be easy but we for maintain’. Draped in contagious horns, the afro soul tempo sound of ‘Streetlife’ bears an unmistakable similarity with “Trotro (Allegation)” by the rappers Safo, Anyemi and Nino.(Watch video of song). ‘Qumomi’, a Ga word that means ‘bust a move or move your body’ encourages people to set aside their troubles and revel in the good moment.

G.O.D (Good Ole Days) is a trip down memory lane and captures the spirit of the EP. Quayba recounts some of the childhood games (chaskele, ampe, pilolo) and shows many 90s kids grew up on (like By The Fireside, Kyekyekule), getting sacked from school for owing school fees. She sings ‘make you no fi forget the good ole days cos you no go get am again’. G.O.D is hewed around infectious traditional kpalogo rhythms that reminds me of Adane Best’s ‘Maafio’. ‘Ajeeii’ is used to describe a painful experience and Quayba employs it here to describe a failed relationship.

”Nkuro” ends with ‘Fa Ma Nyame’ (Give It To God); a diary entry of her struggles: ‘In this life, I’ve learnt things book couldn’t write, songs couldn’t sing/ In my 20-something years I’ve had fears’. The song carries a message of hope. On the hook, she entreats all to lean on God when their ships get rocked. ‘Fa Ma Nyame’ is the only song off this 6 track EP that draws out the soulful prowess of Quayba; something she had held in check throughout.

Choosing to blend both traditional rhythms and modern elements of afrobeats along with her singing in both Fante, English, Twi and Ga means serving larger constituents of listeners. She isn’t making the tape for a particular segment of society. Her mellifluous delivery is crisp and assuring; like a person who has something to prove yet, is having fun doing just that. And Nel Magnum, one of the slept on producers out there chopping up and fitting together musical sounds in a mould befitting the talent of Quayba is a good advert for both individuals.

In an era where the scene is being saturated by music – they get released faster than a heartbeat – and sounding similar to each other, seeing Quayba render a work that hybridizes traditional Ghanaian rhythms with posh afropop sensibilities to great effect is not only a brave move; it’s the sort of refreshing break from the monotonous beat that has become the standard of today’s afropop music.

If the numerous features was her audition process, the 6 track ”Nkuro” is her full solo showpiece. The beam is moving towards her direction.

THE CUTS: EP 03 Vol. 19

THE CUTS is a short review of songs, videos or albums that we think you need to hear or watch. The music is not genre and/or region specific. Once it is good, it will be covered.


Poetra Asantewa – Hungry

‘Hungry’ examines the relationship between country/society (Ghana) and its citizens through the prism of Poetra. The poem highlights the raw deal the country hands its own populace: lack of protection of especially women, children and marginalized groups, absence of support systems for creatives, entrepreneurs. Poetra sums up her observations and experience in the opening lines of the poem: ‘I’m hungry for a love my country cannot afford/ I want a a love that would buffer me before my mistakes’.

This isn’t the first time the beloved poet had rendered a political commentary. In 2016, she released ‘Vote For Me’; a poem that threw light on the dust throwing antics of politicians ahead of elections.

‘Hungry’, the first self-produced poem by Poetra criticizes the culture of embracing and recognizing our own after they get celebrated by foreigners first. “A love that doesn’t wait for another suitor to sing praises of my genius before recognizing my work’ is what she hopes for. ”Hungry” is a criticism of the system, a call to fix it, the hypocrisy within it, all delivered in a mixed tone of pain and measured optimism.

Kayso – Abena

Whether the tag line is ‘This Be Kayso From Tema’ or ‘Ayee’ or ‘GroundUp Chale’ after a short laugh, Kayso has earned his stripes as the producer behind some of the biggest songs in the country. And one addition to his growing catalogue is ”Abena”.

Built around a highlife groove, “Abena” has Kayso doing his very best to win the heart of a lady. His vocals sound fresh and crisp. The production is spotlessly engrossing -the drums bang and the bass line grips. The live horns placement after the second verse offers tune a certain grace.

The Kayso on ”Abena” sounds very different from the one that was heard on ”Your Type No Dey” EP, released last year. If we are to deduce from his recent tweet about finally shaking off the bug of depression that afflicted him throughout last year, making him unable to produce songs, then we should expect a revitilized Kayso to deliver some amazing pieces of work this year.

Joey B feat Wanlov & Yaa Pono – Beautiful Boy

Joey B is rapping again. The slick, humor dripping lines that made him a household name is still present and showing on his latest ‘Beautiful Boy’. The song tackles the concept and meaning of ‘beauty. ‘First thing when I wake up/ I look in the mirror/oh God, is it me or/fine I fine so/dangerous’, Joey B raps over a Kuvie beat.

Wanlov and Yaa Pono advance this theme on their respective verses. Wanlov celebrates his nice eyebrows, tight six packs and his ‘caramel tone’ which his mirror screams in shock upon ‘seeing’ his image. Yaa Pono showcased the symptoms’ of being beautiful.

Is ‘Beautiful Boy’ an attempt to encourage good male grooming or it’s a case of flipping round the notion that only women revel in their own beauty? Could it also be about self-love? Whatever the case, this song would receive traction.

Zepora – Give Me Love

Zepora’s voice has graced some afro house/dance songs produced here in Ghana. Mention can be made of Kuvie’s ‘Deep’ and ‘Euphoria (off Gruvie). She again featured on ‘Thinking of You’ by DJ Kess. Now, she’s stepping into the light with her very first single.

The up-tempo reggae toned ‘Give Me Love’ with its adorable horn sections has Zepora preaching about coexistence and treating people with respect. ‘Judge no one cos Jah repays/and gives according to our deeds’, she sings.

The opening words on ‘Give Me Love’: ‘It’s been long since I’ve seen someone show love’ cast the song as a social and moral call than someone begging to be loved. Aside the wavy flow in her singing, the preachy message and the good reggae vibe, it’s her ad-libs that makes good impression. Get her song on aftown.com

Throwback: Nana King- ‘Champion’

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There’s a lot that Nana King did for hip life in its nascent stage: he founded Ashanti International Records which housed top acts such as Sonni Bali and Ex-Doe. This was in 1999 when the whole hip life movement was beginning to take shape. Embodying a flashy and sometimes gangster-like sense of American hip hop culture, Nana King, who, prior to settling in Ghana and establishing his record label, was domiciled in Los Angeles.

He entered the scene with a strategy that worked; resulting in some degree of success. He used his ‘ties’ with Tupac as a vehicle to promote his hip hop and street ‘credibility’. A claim many disputed until a video surfaced of the two sharing a stage during a 1994 concert in Santa Monica, Los Angeles recently.

One would remember him for instigating the whole Ex-Doe (as the villain) against Reggie Rockstone and Chicago rap beef. (Interestingly, Ex-Doe and Chicago had jointly released a smash hit ‘Daavi’ two years prior). The beef and the song, M’aba on hindsight, helped accelerate the ‘visibility’ of hiplife beyond the demography of the youth. Even older folks who seem unperturbed by hiplife at the very beginning began talking about how the beef could escalate into something a la Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Caution was advised. Resolution became the watch word on the lip of all major players within the entertainment scene especially the legendary music producer Faisal Helwani of Hewale Soundz.

It wasn’t only pitting two musicians against one another Nana King’s specialty. He was one of the foremost music sampling heads on the scene, along with DJ Rab and Zapp Mallet. He knew how to flip hip hop samples and infusing them within RnB or highlife octaves with such exquisite finesse. Tracks such as Ex-Doe’s ‘M’aba’ (I’m Here) sampled DMX’s ‘Ruff Ryderz Anthem’. Another hit song, Yebre (We’re Tired) off that album also used samples from Lauryn Hill’s ‘Lost One’ song. Nana King was also a good A&R whose legacy in that field remains the discovery of dancehall god Samini (formerly Batman).

One of my favourite songs from Nana King was his tune ‘Champion’ featuring Ex-Doe. Riding on sample chops from Fela Kuti’s classic ‘Lady’, Nana King laced his vocals over the mid-tempo, smooth R&B surrounded song whose base was built from ‘Lady’. What Nana King did was to keep the heavy horns and hard drums of the original composition soft. He added a gong and xylophone rendition of some elements of the beat to give it a very fresh outlook.

‘Champion’ was a proclamation of love to one other. Nana King confessed his depth of love to his lover: how much he’d care and treat her for ‘all knees to bend’ and appreciate the meaning of love. The lady in turn intoned: if we love each other then we are champions.

The initial reaction to the song was a full blown criticism for what was described as suggestive; citing the lyrics of the hook as evidence: ‘Give it to me. It’s not enough, you’ll kill me, when it comes to love then we are champions’. (As it translate from Twi).

The rapper, producer, singer and sound engineer went on to work with other artists such as Dasebre Dwamena (“Ahoofe” album on which he produced four songs and mastered the whole album), VIP and Akyeame among others during their early years as rappers.

Now back in the states and pursuing a different musical genre-Gospel, Nana King has certainly paid his dues to the music scene in Ghana.

Couldn’t find the full audio of the song online, except this mix by PM the DJ. Listen from the 4:40 mark