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 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


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.

“The Whole Truth” by Sizz The Truth Is Out

Sizz The Truth

“The Whole Truth. This work of art challenges all existing stereotypes on African music and presents a multifaceted artist who who’s a listener with his dynamic skill. From inspiration to references on pop
Ghanaian culture, a listener is taken across a wild ride!

SizzTheTruth presents new frontiers to music made in Africa with his iconic blend of highlife undertones, Hip-Hop and alternative beats. This project is inevitably one that will stay in minds and on playlists for years to come.

Sizz The Truth, a Ghanaian/Nigerian rapper & singer, has been on the Ghanaian alternative music scene for a while, carving his own niche and sound.

Earlier last year he announced his upcoming debut project and it’s finally here.

The project, “The Whole Truth”, is a mix of various sounds- a deliberate approach geared towards satisfying the music taste of for everyone (listeners). Only two guest artists- Ko-Jo Cue and Cina Soul are featured on the project.

Cue, as expected, finessed his verse on “fatality whiles the lovely Cina Soul bid us farewell on “Till We Finish” with her mellifluous voice.

Sizz the Truth definitely did take us on a journey and showed his versatility on this project.

The selected producers for the project were SoBeatz, Arrow (his partner), who produced 5 songs, Boye, K.Banks, PJ Katz and DJ

All songs except the feature verses were recorded and mixed at Xtreme Studios and mastered by Foreign Local at RGG Studios.

Get ‘The Whole Truth’ here by selecting your preferred streaming platform or store:

THE CUTS: EP 03 Vol. 4

THE CUTS is a weekly round-up of songs and videos that has caught our attention or think you must hear. The music featured here aren’t genre specific. THE CUTS is delivered every FRIDAY

Kiddblack – About You


‘About You’ has the potential to kick Kiddblack from semi- obscurity to the limelight. This love song is couched to emit rhythmic pleasure and thrill. Kiddblack ask his girl if she’d stick with him through his journey to stardom. Produced by Kuvie, ‘About You’ opens with a slapping kick and bass, something similar to what’s heard on Busta Rhyme’s ‘Dangerous’. Kuvie neatly tucks in a series of african elements only Kuvie could create, on a track that opens with both the minor and major piano keys surrounding it. Kiddblack’s booming and textured voice especially when singing the hook is perfect. The deadlock wearing, black kid has the vibes by his side.


Ty Bello – Dance For You


“I’ll dance no matter what this life is playing/ I’ll dance to the rhythm of your grace’’. Ty Bello’s declares on “Dance For You”, a gospel song that exalt God, the pillar in her life. The song is recorded live and boast heavy keyboard and massive kicks which beam with glorious excitement. Her voice (with its lisp) carries a reverb effect, and emotions dripping through the song, adding to the sensation the live recording offer. Ty’s voice range isn’t in the same category as some of the best singers in the world but, she can hit them with less difficulty. This is how Ty Bello narrate the making of her 2014 album, ‘‘The Morning Song Book”: In 2009 I begun this amazing season where I would write music to God as my morning devotion. It was a unique time of discovery and I I felt it was a unique way to give of myself…Open and sincere…It wasn’t long that I realized that I was receiving way more than I was giving. Every beautiful exchange with God always leaves us with more. I was also humbled when I got this heartfelt assurance that he thought the songs were perfect. Perfect?? If you’ve ever written music you would know that ‘perfect ‘is the one that simply evades …Well…it’s taken a number of years to make… Here it is. My gift to God… His to me.



Kwame Yesu – Real Rap II

Kwame Yesu is the latest artist to pay homage to afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti, on his song Real Rap II produced by YungFly. (The beat is from Yung Fly’s re-work of some Fela songs released last year to celebrate “Felaberation”). The trap sounding song has chops of Fela’s “Zombie” and references of some of his classic songs. Kwame Yesu talks about the state of music industry – how bloggers, fake friends, radio dampen the efforts of young artists- ad the hypocritical tendencies of these same individuals when you make it. He incorporates parts of a Fela interview about music and role of the artist in society to help drum his point home. Kwame Yesu has the talent to make him one of the best from this part of the world.


Pambour feat Kwesi Arthur – RARE

‘Odo kakra/ Sika kakra/ So, why you dey love me too much?’, a question Pambour seeks an answer to on ‘Rare’. A love centred song about a girl who holds her man down on all fronts including financially- she gives him money to pay the waiter when on a date. Pambour is an artist from the GroundUp Chale camp. His label mate Kwesi Arthur makes an appearance on the song, delivering a simple yet flawless hook. Over a moody trap beat with a touch of soulfulness –courtesy the horns and guitar licks and violin strings bubbling beneath, the two perform in both Twi and pidgin made sure, this Jay Fyn beat wasn’t wasted.


Throwback: Noble and Sandra – ”Ayalolo”


You can’t run
The time is now, do what you can don’t you know
Look at us now, our ancestors have seen Canaan
But we are just seeing things in this world”

The above lyrics is part of the opening lyrics to “Ayalolo”, a song performed by Noble and soul singer Sandra Huson. The lyrics portray a song about patriotism and the need for us, as a country, to take responsibility to better our lot.

Noble and Sandra Huson recorded this song somewhere around 2010/11. The Jayso produced song can be classified under ‘criminally underrated song’ category.

Noble Nii Nortey was part of Black N Peach, consisting of Noella Wiyaala and Emma Orleans- Lindsay, the 2012 winners of the of ”Vodafone Icons Mixed Edition”. But, this song was released prior to him joining the ranks of the music reality show.

Sandra Huson, on the other hand belongs to the Skillions camp and has built a reputation over the years as a soul/blues singer. In 2010/11, she was a young voice occasionally making appearances on songs by her fellow label mate.

“Ayalolo” was the first collaborative efforts publicly released between Noble and Sandra . The song carried a soulful tone and began with a series of keyboard notes and mellow bass line pierced by a sucked out horn throughout the song before the kick and bass dropped. The horn seems to be the foundation around which the soundscape was built.

The contrasting vocal expressions and language of choice also added a ton of flavour to the already engrossing song. Nobel, with his timbering voice sang mostly in Ga, bringing to the fore thought provoking messages. Noble had a voice belonging to an older male. Sandra’s vocals exuded a charming warmth that balanced the heaviness that Noble’s delivery had kicked up. Their vocal display on the interlude and chorus emitted chemistry and blatant passion.

Noble’s lyrics reminded us of our history and the legacy left behind for us by our ancestors and Kwame Nkrumah to build on; something we are failing to do.

Why, why, why have we relaxed ourselves for poverty to cause us death
Nkrumah come and see what you have left
Your children are crying and calling unto you
Don’t relax on this earth because you have got the power
Heaven we going, Heaven we going, we going higher
At your field of work and your doings let’s see the fire
If this country will succeed it depends on you, your desire
What are you waiting for? The journey is long? We still going

Sandra, on the second verse urged us to stay focused, believe in ourselves and put our collective strength together and build a better future.

‘’So, c’mon now, let make it work

Cos we all want to be the first

Take my hand and show the world, we do survive the worse’’

 “Ayalolo’’ isn’t a political song albeit the theme of building a better country or place is largely considered a political issue. Inherent in the song, however, is the fact that, we can all help in building a better future for us and the next generations by playing our part with excellence.

Many years after its release, “Ayalolo” still sounds fresh and relevant, like old wine as the cliché goes. The vocal deliveries are still lush, the theme very relevant and the production is exceptionally amazing. (Of course it’s a Jayso produced track). The decision to sing in both Ga and English was meant to have a broader reach. Unfortunately, the song didn’t attain that traction. But, one thing is always clear: a great song would remain a great song, notwithstanding the number of ears that hear it.

Kobi Onyame and Wanlov Share Inspiration in “Still We Rise” Video

Self-belief. Chasing dreams despite the challenges on your path is the theme of ‘Still We Rise’, a song by UK-based Ghanaian rapper, Kobi Onyame and Wanlov (The Kubolor).

“Still We Rise” has the two gifted rappers spread doses of positivism about life and success (chasing one’s dreams) as expressed these lyrics: ‘keep fighting on/ We’re upward bound/ seeing the sky as lower ground’ and “you for dey feed your passion/Fuel your desire/ No fright flight or fear of height/Go higher” delivered by Kobi Onyame and Wanlov respectively.

The song’s 90s hip hop beat and airy horn section along with the cadences in their respective flows render “Still We Rise” a bop.

The video for the song is shot by 6Miludo (a subsidiary of Skillions Records) and directed by both artists. Employing both long, short and panoramic shots, the green environs of the Aburi Mountains (location for video) were captured. The video is engrossing in it’s simplicity.

“Still We Rise” is found on Kobi Onyame’s critically hailed album, “Gold”, released last year. The album was voted the Best Album at the 2017 Infinitime Music Awards held in London. “Gold” is heavily steeped in Ghanaian highlife grooves and traditional afrobeat rhythms; a homage by the rapper to his Ghanaian and African roots.

Kobi Onyame belong to the class of Ghanaian rappers of the early 2000s, who began what later came to be labeled as ‘GH Rap’. As the founder of the Haatsville Project, Kobi Onyame, formerly known as Jay P, along with the Skillionaires inspired a wave of young kids to become rappers.

Watch the video for ”Still We Rise’

Album Review: Burna Boy Proves He’s Not A One Dimensional Artist on “Outside”

On “Calm Down”, the penultimate song of his recently released album “Outside”, Burna Boy hints: Got me moving in slow motion/ I’m tryna walk on top of the ocean. Though a reference to an overdose on drugs, this declaration, is a summary of his career. Over these years as an artist, the Afro-fusionist hasn’t received much credit for his immense talent. When the conversation around some of the best talents from Nigeria is made, his name falls down the pecking order.

Yet, Burna Boy, born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogalu, knew his time was inching closer and that, the validation he deserves would come in some few years.

“Outside” is the perfect project to accentuate his credibility as one of the incredible talents from Nigeria and Africa.

“Outside” has Burna Boy touching on the themes of life on tracks like ‘More Life’, which incidentally was one of the five songs he submitted for Drake’s album of the same name. Unfortunately, Drake chopped it as an outro, but Burna Boy chose to make it the Intro to his album.

The energetic Ph City Vibration (an ode to his home city of Port Harcourt, River State) offers a glimpse into his upbringing: I was born inna the Teaching Hospital/ I no dey stay far from the Liberation Stadium/ Na I dey chop poly, and fish and yam’. The 27 year old Burna Boy paints a picture to prove to all that, his come up wasn’t as rosy as many might think.

Music has always been in the blood of Burna Boy. His family has had a long association with music. His grandfather was once a manager of legendary afrobeats king, Fela Ransome Anikulapo Kuti. His father was a big dancehall enthusiast. It’s therefore no surprise how Burna Boy turned out, career-wise.

Afrobeat is omnipresent on “Outside” as exhibited on the rhythmic ‘Koni Baje’, a Yoruba phrase that translate as ‘It Won’t Be Destroyed’. Replete with sage wisdom about how success breeds many friends, the highlife toned song is dominated by soft drums, electric guitar riffs and horns sections that leaves you pressing on the rewind button after a first listen. ‘Ye’ continues in that same afrobeat realm, with it’s theme of staying successful: I no fit die for nothing”, he notes. ‘Plenty suffer wey we face/ just to make sure money dey attest to the mantra that many don’t see your pain, only your success. ‘Ye’ and ‘Giddem’ both have interpolation of Fela Kuti’s ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’ from his 1977 album of same name.

Burna Boy features UK acts JHus and Lily Allen, on the slow afro dancehall number ‘Sekkle Down‘ and “Heaven’s Gate” respectively. Whereas “Sekkle Down” focuses on romantic flings, “Heaven’s Gate“, with it’s ebullient spark, has Burna boldly telling haters you can’t come around my estate. Lily Allen’s shrill delivery adds a layer of texture to the song. (“Sekkle Down’’ carries a JHus imprint than Burna Boy’s, although he in the end, owned it).

If there’s any song with the potential of thrusting Burna Boy into global limelight, it’s definitely has to be “Heaven’s Gate”. Not only because of Lily’s name attached to the song, but the stellar delivery of Burna Boy.

On both “Calm Down” and “California Devil”, Burna Boy faces his demons- use or abuse of ecstasy drugs. He references his popping of molly in the club on ’Calm Down’ (So, why I just put all my pain and problems/ In this styrofoam cups/ And drink it all away). He revisits drug use on “California Devil” (I’m so high/ Can’t open my eyes/Can’t look in your eyes). The lyrics, however betrays how these drugs serve as a source of escape- from the pressures of life for artists like himself.

The EDM laced title track, “Outside” features UK pop singer Mabel, whose crooning adds an emotive feel to the introspective musings of Burna Boy. This, perhaps is the most personal song on the album, considering the legal issues he faced in the last part of the year. On ‘Outside’, Burna reiterate the ‘survival of the fittest’ theme akin to the jungle; alluding to how nobody cared when he needed help. Before the beat finally drops on the song, he asks a very poignant question: “so if my mama cry and I rest as well/ Does her son end up like Vybz Kartel?”.

“Outside” is proof of Burna Boy’s incredible versatility and artistry. The genre blending sounds aside, he shows no hint of struggle in his deliveries- he knows how to bend his voice to sit within songs. If “Outside” is Burna Boy’s gallery, then on each wall hangs a portrait of his gifts.