Video Review: Ko-Jo Cue and Lil Shaker celebrate their idols on ‘Untitled’

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‘We had wanted to screen the second video for y’all tonight. But, our video director say e no finish am’. This was Ko-Jo Cue talking to the very few who got invited to the album listening session for ‘Pen & Paper’ at the BBNZLive Bar at Nima, a week ago.

Both Cue and Shaker would, at the least opportunity, express their disappointment at how the planned screening didn’t pan out as expected. But, he made an emphatic statement to us: ‘If you loved the first video (Pen & Paper), this next one would blow your mind’.

Everybody who had seen the video for ‘Untitled’ would applaud them for conceptualizing an astounding piece of artwork. The video is the second to be released, after Pen & Paper. The duo are ‘hopefully’ looking to release videos for all the 12 songs on their joint album.

The video for ‘Untitled’ is a re-visitation of the past, and a homage paying venture for the legends that inspired these two young rappers to pick up the mic and rap. It is their way of saying thank you to their idols. When i asked Cue why they went with this concept, his answer was straight forward: ‘Homage. Everything i do has to pay homage to the old generation’.

Before I begin dissecting the video, slide by slide, let me state that, this probably is going to be the best piece of video you’d see in 2017. Ko-Jo Cue, Shaker and the video director Esianyo Kumodzi really put in work. As Cue and Shaker told MsNaa on her show some weeks back, all their videos would be shot by Esianyo Kumodzi. It’s very obvious to note why.

Back to the ‘Untitled’ video. This review would cover the many iconic musical references, the various interpretations for each scene and why they chose this concept.

The beginning opens with the two rappers, dressed in all black (seems that’s the costume for the album), walking towards a simple, open air music studio. Whereas Cue carries a microphone and chords, Shaker has in his arm a keyboard. As they proceed towards the ‘studio’, the two turn back, staring straight into the camera, and by extension, the eyes of the viewer.

That scene is drawn from the Jay Z and Kanye West Otis video (off their ‘Watch The Throne’ album). If you watch the beginning of the Otis video carefully, you’d see Jay Z peeping into the camera.

Ko-Jo Cue’s re-creations of his favourite music scene

Ko-Jo Cue’s love for Daddy Lumba runs deeper that you can imagine. Adopting the moniker YDL (Young Daddy Lumba) isn’t only because Lumba is from Kumasi as Cue, but an attestation to Lumba’s influence on highlife music and pop culture.  So, seeing a 24 inch black and white TV set beaming the visuals of the very iconic ‘Aben Wo Ha’ video is no coincidence. (Did you hear the music playing at the background?) Ko-Jo Cue goes ahead to re-create the opening scene of the ‘Aben Wo Ha’ video as it was done almost 20 years ago (video was released in 1998).

Pardon Cue for those dance moves (if we can call it such).   couldn’t have put it any better.

We again see the re-creation of that Obrafour ‘Kwame Nkrumah’ ‘rapping triplet’ scene (that scene had me wondering if Obrafour was a three-man group or just one person, days after watching the video some decades ago). Cue again re-creates M3nsa (of the Fokn Bois) ‘spitting fire on a mic’ video scene from ‘If You Don’t Know’ video (featuring VIP). We finally see him and Shaker, in their Last Two emblazoned T-Shirt living out moments off Edem’s ‘Keva’ (You Dey Craze) with Sarkodie video.  The re-creation of the images by Cue is his way of showing appreciation and paying homage to the past.

It is worth saying that, apart from the Daddy Lumba video, all the rest were directed by legendary videographer Abraham Ohene-Djan and his OM Studios acolytes.

Lil Shaker Re-creates Iconic Album Covers

Lil Shaker enters the scene to continue from where Cue left off. This time, he pays homage to the very iconic hip-hop idols he grew up listening to. Shaker did this by re-creating some of their major album covers like TuPac’s ‘All Eyez On Me’, Ja Rule’s ‘Pain Is Love’ (shot by the legendary Jonathan Mannion),  the iconic ‘Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ by 50 cents (shot by Sacha Waldman), and Jay Z’s classic ‘Black Album’ (shot by Jonathan Mannion).

Beneath the album covers is an interesting sublime statement about his own career path. Lil Shaker could be drawing parallels between him and 2Pac with the reference about his own path to greatness off Pen & Paper album. Don’t forget 2Pac was in jail in 1996, after being convicted (falsely) of rape. His album ‘All Eyez On Me’ became the No.1 album on Billboard. The legend of 2Pac was cemented by the album. So, Shaker is telling us this is his time to grow to greater things.

Since joining BBnZ, Shaker has been criticized for his diminishing role at the label. The optimism which many, including myself, had when he joined the label began to wane, after he chose to be more T-Pain than TI. The bullet ripped glass scene he re-created from 50 Cent’s GRODT cover could represent the criticisms that fans have leveled at him-shattering the glass house he found himself inhabiting. Not incurring any injuries, he’s more inspired to be the best. The theme of inspiration segues into the re- enactment of the Jay Z Black album cover, which could also mean his aim at greatness or Pen & Paper is definitely a classic. In short, those images or scenes sum up Shaker’s past and offers an insight into his future (henceforth).

Towards the end, Lil Shaker ask us to rewind the song to the beginning and listen again. The video then shuffles back to the Ko-Jo Cue as daddy Lumba ‘Aben Wo Ha’ scene. This is where the Untitled video ends, unceremoniously.

Some few points of notice:

‘Untitled’ is a continuation of Pen & Paper video. There’s a striking theme between the two. The video is shot in black and white. And we saw in the P&P video references to Obrafour’s ‘Pae Mu Ka’ poster and old cassette tapes. In ‘Untitled’, these themes are explored on a wider scale- paying real homage to the legends.

Both Cue and Shaker referenced four idols each- Lumba, Obrafour, M3nsa and Edem/Sarkodie. For Shaker, it was 2Pac, Ja Rule, 50 Cent and Jay Z.  Splitting the number to the middle indicate how the making of ‘’Pen & Paper’’ is a shared creative effort. With Cue idolizing Ghanaian artists and Shaker referencing legendary hip-hop icons, they tell the story of many Ghanaian rap fans; inspired by home grown and US rap stars.

My only reservation is that, they could have done away with the reference videos they re-created. Imagine how compelling it would be if they had allowed the viewer to identify their scenes from the original sources that served as their inspiration? The nostalgic feel would have been outstanding.

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In the last scene of the video, we see the two rappers set up their ‘studio’ and a cardboard with the inscription ‘DIY Studios’ sitting at the left side of the screen. Despite the reeking humor in the name, it points to the DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit that many indie artists embody when chasing their musical dreams.

And could the last scene be the album cover?

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Did Kula take shots at Obinim on “Don’t Do It”? We think Yes. 


The art of taking shots at people, and/or issues you have strong opinions on is permissible in hip hop. How these shots are crafted is considered essential similar to the manner it is delivered. Just like how the use of metaphors, similes, punch lines and other literary devices are heralded as prime standards in judging rappers, a well delivered lyric is considered in same vein. It’s seen as a benchmark of the rapper’s intelligence.

Last month, rapper Kula released a single titled ‘Don’t Do It’. Kula, on the single, enumerated some disrespectful incidents by people on social media whenever an issue comes up. The social media subculture, despite its power to exchange ideas and form great bonds with others through daily conversations is also inherently offensive to many due to the often caustic remarks and trolling behaviours of people. The safety net of anonymity social media provides lead to its abuse especially when it comes to reactions displayed against celebrities.

These and other observations formed the crux of Kula’s ‘Don’t Do It’. With its hip-hop traits (the well-spaced beat is every rappers delight), Kula outlined his beef as reflected in some of the lyrics:

So many things dey go on for social media/ Everybody wants to be a public figure/ You figure say that thing ebi joke?/ No yawa dey pass famous and broke/ Ok, you bundle 5 cedis/ You go online dey disrespect people for ten retweets/ Hardworking people who dey do dema legit business/ Then you, teenager who no know where your life’s heading’.

Listening to the song again this past week, I was struck by a lyric which has prompted this post. A line on the second verse got me wondering if Kula is indeed taking shots at someone considered as a public figure- a known bishop whose actions and omissions have gotten many to dispatch tons of criticisms and even challenge his claim of being a man of God. The lyric is cleverly laced hence many missing it. So, I’m here to help break it down. 

On the second verse of ‘Don’t Do It’, exactly on the 1:36 minutes mark, after the chorus of the song had ended, Kula entered with the following lyrics: 

‘’Nobody Knows’ dey deceive y’all naive believers// People dey talk, buh y’all never believe us// Go read Common Sense 101 for beginners// Cos mo adwen mu hahaaha as3 bathroom slippers’’.

The lyrics are predominantly delivered in pidgin with doses of Twi. For those unable to grasp the pidgin, here’s a ‘proper’ English breakdown. Kula draw parallels between the despicable actions of this man of God, the naivety of his followers (defenders), calls on them to re-evaluate their reasoning and finally, took a dig at them for being shallow minded.

On the first line, Kula cleverly plays on this individual’s name: ‘Nobody Knows dey deceive y’all naive believers’. The ‘Nobody Knows’ reference is a play on the name of one of Ghana’s controversial pastors, Bishop Daniel Obinim. The name Obinim directly translates as ‘Nobody Knows’ in English.

Obinim has been slammed for his numerous infractions-considered by many Ghanaian as ungodly. From physically attacking radio presenters, whipping young church members for fornicating, to owning up to his risqué behaviours, Obinim’s reputation has suffered severe bashing from the general public. He’s been described by many in very uncouth words with his pastoral credentials called into question. Yet, the irony lies in the fact that, many still follow him, defending or justifying his infractions with brow raising shock. These are the people Kula describes as ‘naive believers’

The next lines extend from the first, with Kula reiterating his surprise at how these ‘naïve believers’ refuse to listen to the numerous doubts expressed over his claim of being a bishop. Kula request them to literary wear their common sense cap and realize he’s fake. He finally compares the ignorant minds of these ‘naïve believers’ to bathroom flip flops.

The effect religion has over people has been spoken and written about by many, in different ways. From being described as ‘opium of the masses’ to singling out the African as ‘notoriously religious’, the Christian concept of God has taken a strong foothold in many hearts. Some religious charlatans have pegged their tent within this space, using various means to hypnotize their followers into believing every word they speak, no matter the level of crudeness and crassness. Afterall, who dares speak against ‘thy anointed’.

Kula’s lyrics may split sides, depending on which camp you stand- a defender of Obinim’s actions or someone who feels offended by him. The scatting and judgmental lyrics notwithstanding, Kula is a rapper and a social commentator who frames his words based on what goes around him. And since he is airing out some of the things he’s seeing, pulling out that lyric is understandable.

After all, hip hop or rap is the only music genre where artists could vent and call out people without any fear of recrimination.

 

00:01 – “Ci, Na she touch my Soul oo”

 

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There’s everything gorgeous about Cina Soul when it comes to her music and her visuals. Each word in her lyric captures an emotive feeling. And each image in her videos advances the words even more. Her voice stirs emotions deep within you (doesn’t your hair stand when she sings? Mine does) and she knows how to use it perfectly.

Hers did too…

After a beautiful season of collaboration with fellow glowing black girls on the highly acclaimed Black Girls Glow (the 6 member all-female collective group) ‘Mother of Heirs‘ album, Cina Soul hit the studios again to work on another soul touching music. 

Her new titled 00.01 single has everything to get you back in your feels again. A love-ly song that has her questioning where and how things fell apart. Words like ‘give me all you got don’t hold back’ and ‘give me your heart I’d keep it‘, delivered in a relaxed, graceful and melodic tone grips you. The accompanying burrowing piano chords hands 00.01 it’s chilling tone. The producer, 3FS Productions played a very interesting trick: heavy hip-hop drums replacing ballad tone beats right at the latter parts of the song. 

That drop is sensational. Goodness.

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Ironic how it’s titled 00:01, yet 02:26 almost stole the show.

The video for 00.01 furthers the narrative of the song. Flashbacks were captured by old 80s styled reels rather than black and white (which is often the standard). Moments of love are exquisitely acted out. The moods of despair and pain are portrayed with brilliance. Watching the video, I kept wondering if RJZ (singer/songwriter/artist and part of LaMeme Gang) was a professional actor.

It’s not hard to see that the director, Andy Madjitey (@KwameDracula) got Cina Soul and RJZ to bring out their best. The camera angles, story continuity, and other technical details were given much attention.

After months of intense protest from some die-hard fans and friends, she finally put up her music on AppleMusic.

Make sure to carry the song along with you on your devices if have Apple Music.
Also, watch the video below:

…and finally, here’s a portrait of Cina we love so much. This black girl is truly glowing.

 

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credit:  @SteveMorrisM_

Fun Fact: Well.. if you got this far, I think it’s right I let you in on why it’s titled 00:01. I asked Swaye Kidd and his first guess was a one minute man. Really?

So, 00:01 was simply the time she wrote the song. Yeah, right at the start of “feels hours”. Bless You, Cina. May your forever be relevant.

by Manny Obeng @MannyFBC

There’s Everything to love about Burna Boy’s ‘Rock Your Body’ video

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If you were expecting a video full of decadence-of scantily clad women gyrating with little or no care, then your expectation was half met in this new video by Burna Boy. The video is littered with moments of women in their seductive element carefully portrayed to not bore you.

‘Rock Your Body’ is a song produced by Ghanaian-British producer DJ Juls. It has all the elements that has come to be associated with Juls within the afro pop scene- mid-tempo, classic highlife chops with its joyous glow.  Weeks ago, Juls tweeted about the existence of a musical material between Nigeria’s Burna Boy and himself. He added that, the song is to be released as a single because of two reasons: One, it didn’t fit the concept behind ‘’Leap of Faith’’, his gorgeously crafted debut EP; and second, it’s being saved as a Christmas jam.

Listening to the song and its content, you realize why it is released a single. ‘Rock Your Body’, with its stealing someone’s girl and rocking her body like she deserves, could have distorted (slightly) the concept of ‘Leap of Faith’ which was about love- seek, find, appreciate and celebrate.

”If you give me your love/Then, I go give you my love too

If you give me the shit)/ Then, I ginger the jollof” – Rock Your Body 

The video for ‘Rock Your Body’ is a glimpse into life in the ‘Burna Boy Mansion’ when he wants to indulge in his shenanigans. In 3:42 minutes, one get to see a lot of well-staged, well-coordinated acts superbly stitched together into a portrait of enjoyment of the viewer – fans and non-fans alike. There is a lot to unpack in this video. It’s not about the women, but more about the work put in by the hands during the creation of the final product (video).

The visual appeal and subtle inclusion of certain elements is what grant the video its aesthetic beauty.

Here are few of them:

Video Concept: As mentioned, the concept offers you (the viewer) into life in the ‘Burna Boy Mansion’. The viewer is offered a private viewing of Burna Boy in full mode. We are introduced to two men standing in front of a door to a house in the first scene. From their dark shades and looks, you realize why they are there: guard the door to the building. Next, we see them turn their head to the right, as if looking at an oncoming object.

One of the guard’s walks up to someone (not revealed) and suspiciously scrutinizes the person with all his might or power (like bodyguard do to disarm you of any confidence). After satisfying himself, he beckons his colleague, with a head nod, who opens the door. In goes someone (we only see his combat boots). A long shot of Burna Boy sitting in a chair like a king, lighting up a smoke comes up next.

Two women (one in a lingerie and the other in a black fur coat) making their way into his ‘hallowed ground’ (cordoned off area with yellow tapes emblazoned with the word ‘CAUTION’. As the camera rolls, we see the two ladies dancing as well as shots of others. The set is designed to look like a strip club. Some of the ladies are dancing in a cage with barbed wires on top of the cage. Others swing on big hanging hoops. One of the dancers, draped with the ‘Caution’ inscribed tape performs a trance-like dance.

Burna Boy is seen either sitting outside of the cage singing, or with the two ladies belly dancing or seen alone and topless. His body tattoos in your face. Watching that scene, one image readily came to mind: Lil Wayne in the ‘Mirror’ video with Bruno Mars. The director effectively used slow-motion effects where necessary and ensured that focus wasn’t prominently placed on the dancers especially the strip club scenes.

Use of Colour and Light: The whole ‘Rock Your Body’ video is dipped in neon lights. From the moment we meet the two guards at the gate to the dancing scenes, colour and lightening are employed to full effects. The use of neon lights is both for aesthetic value and emphasis. The eyes of the guards and dancers, the room setting is geared at making a statement: it’s going to be real here.

The lights transition from red (when he’s with the girls in his hallowed grounds) to denim blue (the guards) to something chrome-esque (when it came to the dancing girls). You sometimes see the use of dark colours to black out certain distractions (they want you to see the dancers only). Did you see the girl who pulled that Undertaker hide-your-pupil stunt?

The quality of lighting is seen in how the dancers/ models are illuminated on camera. The close-up shots and the tone of illumination provide the viewer with detailed skin tone of the dancers/models. (Did they use Fenty makeup?). It must be said that, all the dancers/models featured are all dark skinned. It seems the use of dark skinned women is becoming a thing.

Symbolism: Before the guards finally permit us into the mansion, you are shown the image of two sculptured dog heads, serving as door handles the house.  The dog head could symbolize a lot of things including protection and bravery. In ‘Rock Your Body’, the depiction of those dog heads could mean a protected or well secured house that can’t be invaded without an invitation.

Another visible symbol we see immediately after the dog heads is golden many golden skulls. Here, it could reference the number of intruders’ slayed -a show of power.

The lyrics of ‘Rock Your Body’ is about stealing someone else’s girl and ‘rocking’ her body to her satisfaction. It’s a catchy, fun song. The video walks a fine line between glossy and moderate. That is, the video looks expensive watching it yet, it’s not excessive. Everything is neatly tucked. My only disappointment? The director isn’t credited on the Youtube credits.

Album Review: Paapa’s brilliance is evident on Technical Difficulties

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Those who listened to ‘Songs For Kukua’ might have realized the incredible talent Paapa Mensa is. ‘Songs For Kukua’ was an ode to Ghana (the country) which was founded on a Wednesday (6th March in 1957). The song saw him personify Ghana, and unpacking his thoughts about her. The album was hailed as a breath of freshness and introduced Paapa to a decent number of people who live for brilliantly helmed music. That was some four years ago.

Paapa, prior to ‘Songs For Kukua’ had extended his gifts, both voice, technical (production) and writing skills to others, notably artistes once on the Skillions Record Label (his home) like Rumor, Adina, Sandra. Paapa is the type of guy who would rather be at the background providing direction than be in the limelight. But, if you are such a talent, remaining in the background would last just momentarily. At a point, you’d have to step into the light and share your gifts with the world.

 

For four years, he wasn’t active on the scene as expected because of schooling. Paapa is a pursuing graduate studies at Portland State University in the US. I guess it’s not easy combining these two demanding activities. At a point, you need to shelve one. Music was kept at bay for academics. However intense or rigourous the academic calendar, he found a way to release a single to alert his fans he still has his musical gifts intact.

 

A couple of months ago, he released ‘Losers’, a song obviously inspired by the insipid state of global affairs, where conflicts and mayhem is destroying the essence of love and humanity. For many, ‘Losers’, albeit the positive message of finding a common ground despite our differences and its acoustically lean production- was seen as another loosey release; something to remind us that Paapa still makes music. What many didn’t realize was that, ‘Losers’ was a precursor to a five track EP titled simply as Technical Difficulties.

On the choice of title, Paapa offers this interesting explanation:

“The phrase ‘Technical Difficulties’ is so damn popular in Ghana – my home country. It’s hard to go a day without hearing it at a concert, during a TV broadcast or trying to withdraw cash from a bank. I chose the title because as I created this project with equipment worth $2, 000, my creative process was fraught with technical difficulties. The phrase kept ringing in my head. “Technical Difficulties” describes glitches and imperfections in a system, be it a live show, computer software, whatever. It describes the things standing in the way of perfection

This EP features only one artiste-Adomaa. On the song ‘Infront of You’, the two collectively talk about the need to keep focus like a horse in blinds. As the chorus poignantly drum home ‘you could miss what dey infront of you’ if you let your dreams blind you’. The incorporation of traditional Ghanaian rhythms and pidgin adds to why ‘Infront of You’ would be the favourite of many. The vocal range differences complemented each other. Listening to the song, you appreciate the work that went into the making of the song, especially getting the vocal mix right. You feel the recording took place with them in the same room/studio. Actually, the whole EP was recorded as he put it ‘in the comfort (and inconvenience) of my bedroom’ (in Portland, US).

Frustration, pain, conflict, reconciliation and forgiveness are the themes broached on ‘Technical Difficulties’. On ‘Aki Ola’, he seek answers to questions like ‘Why do we take our lives? Why do they drop their bombs?’ On both ‘Losers’ and ‘Together’, Paapa focused on bridging the gap between enmity and love, drawing attention on their benefits. Whereas the words ‘why do we turn love into war’ sums up ‘Losers’, on ‘Together’ he wonders if we could lean on each other (‘brother when I need to dance can you give me a beat?/ So sister, can I lean on you when my legs grow weak?’)

‘How Will I Know’ touches on love (frustrations). Paapa’s enquiries about the depth of his lover’s affection are candid: ‘oh I heard you say you love me/ Those are very heavy words to say’, he admits, before posing the real question ‘but, are you prepared to carry the meaning when it hurts?’ Paapa further quizzes if she really ‘want to do the work that it takes to love me’. Saying ‘I Love You’ isn’t a vapid remark to make. There’s more to these three magical words, hence the significance of his closing remark: How Will I know if you only say it but you never show.

Oh I heard you say you love me/ Those are very heavy words

But are you prepared to carry the meaning when it hurts?

Oh I heard you say you love me/ But, do you want to do the work that it takes to really love me?

Will your heart get in the dirt? –  How Will I Know

Other unmissable qualities that bubble to the fore listening to the EP include the quality of production. The technical difficulties encountered during the making of this EP barely glitched the production quality. From the choir-eque renditions on ‘Aki Ola’ (a nostalgic reference to an popular textbook used by many Senior High School students) to the piano led, positivity oozing ‘Losers’ and the tropical ‘Infront of You’, Paapa delivered a project which found the right balance in letting the message walk in the middle without getting overshadowed by any of the aesthetics that complimented it. Paapa’s songwriting is fascinating. The lyrics are simple yet elegant; short yet expressively relaying the meanings being expressed. Every word or phrase chosen served a purpose.

Other standout qualities include the vocal work by Paapa. He can sing no doubt. This project nails this fact home. He used his voice the right way, shading the songs with the right tone of voice. Choosing to sprinkle pidgin on some of the songs made it Ghanaian and relatable.  Paapa’s Christian background lived in the songs. He acknowledges this in a candid way: It’s an imperfect musical journal of themes I’ve wrestled with as a growing imperfect Christian man, living with and loving imperfect people in the shadow of God’s perfect grace and mercy’.

With this project, Paapa has proven himself a musical impresario. His music fills one with hope and positivism; something uncommon in today’s musical sphere. Each ear that may encounter this EP would instantly recognize a talent whose creations sound effortless and output thrives on quality.

Paapa labels ”Technical Difficulties” as an ‘imperfect’ art. The imperfectiveness of this art hands it the perfect accreditation. After all, is there a perfect piece of art?

It is available for streaming and download on Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube and Soundcloud.

 

 

 

 

Get Familiar: Six Top Underground GH Rappers You Need To Know

Some refer to it as Rhythmic African Poetry (RAP) and others see it as a culture. For me it’s an art which involves wordplay and the ability to make sense with either complicated or simple rhyming schemes. Elements that contribute to make a good rap include; the style used in delivery, craftiness of punchlines and to some extent the content (a good punchline can make up for a senseless verse though)

Obrafour has set the bar in Ghana so high that, up to date no one can match up to him. Manifest, M3nsa, Sarkodie, EL and a couple of other rappers have paid their dues and can be referred to as frontrunners in their own rights.

This article highlights five of Ghana’s very own great rappers who seem not be getting the due attention and are usually tagged as underground. One might argue that some artiste stated here do not merit the underground tag but hey EL had been around for a while but, it was not until 2012 that he was nominated for New Artiste of the Year in the Ghana Music Awards (GMAs).

The GMA may not be a good point of reference or standard to buttress my point. That notwithstanding, this piece highlights rapper who deserve to receive all the fame and accompanying goodies per their talents exhibited so far.

GREY (Mobile Boy)

Life has not been fair to this brother. Gray stepped into the limelight under the wings of the founder of the hiplife, Reggie Rockstone, when the latter formed the music group Mobile Boys. The group was made up of Kochoko, Nkonya and Grey. The Madina boy Grey, together with the other group members were based at Labone.

Truth be told few songs were heard from the group. Notable amongst them was one which featured Reggie titled ‘Mobile Phone’. The tongue twister Kochoko took all the spotlight and was perceived as the leader until his departure from the group.  Grey got the nod of rap lovers with an excellently delivered verse and voice overs on the classic Mobile Boys hiphop tune “Wuni Wan” released in 2010. He has not looked back ever since. His rap sounds really matured.

Grey is now a solo artiste, pursuing personal projects and experimenting with new ideas like rapping in his native Efutu tongue. He claims his is tired of writing verses and now does off the head freestyles anytime he enters the booth to record a song. His song might not be out but anytime you hear a verse from Grey you would be quick to acknowledge the sense of maturity in his delivery.

 

KOJO-CUE

The self-acclaimed Oseikrom President aka Young Daddy Lumba is well known within the underground cycles. Cue who represents hiphop, made a name for himself in Kumasi where he began his musical career. Kojo-Cue is arguably, one of the leading figures who led the second hip hop revolution in Kumasi after Lord Kenya in the 2000s.

Anyone who doubts Cue’s ability is to take rap to a different level should listen to “Lie Ben” released in 2013 which featured ASEM. His listenership broadened after that collaboration and has since not taken his foot off the pedal. The rapper cum journalist is currently signed to the BBNZ record label. Not your regular aggressive hard hitting rapper, Cue has a soft and subtle way of delivery which is remarkable. Cue has release a couple of singles and a mixtape under the label including Brading, Tsioo Ben Ke Me, Wole among other incredible pieces of work.

 

AKAN

Not much was known of this emcee until he released a ten track EP titled “Akan EP” back in 2015. It can safely be said that he fits the definition of hip hop made in Twi. His rap style can be described as a lighter version of Obrafour and a better version of Okomfou Kwaadie (my opinion though). It is rumoured that he has been around for long and was in the camp of the Last Two Music Group.

People who appreciate rap music would at any time doff off their hats for his song “The Way I Feel” on his EP. Akan in this song eulogized rap in a remarkable way never heard of. The rapper seems to have a strong affiliation with the Skillions Records with most of his production done by the CEO of the label Jayso. He is set to release his major album, Onipa Akoma on 14th October, 2017. Get familiar with his singles ‘Helebaba, aBusuapanyini, Manhole as you await his debut in a few weeks.

 

TEEPHLOW

In an era which saw Fante rap songs dominate the GH hiphop, the rap lines of this talented Cape Coast guy stood tall. Teephlow started making waves during his student days at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He caught the attention of most people when he contested in GHOne’s reality rap show “Next Big Thing in GH HipHop” in 2012. It always difficult to forget his ‘Boko Haram’ song performance during the competition. He eventually became a runner up to Strongman.

The rapper took a break from the music scene after his tertiary education to undertake his National Service. Phlow re-announced himself on the music scene under the tutelage of Hammer of the Last Two Music Group. He had the opportunity to collaborate with arguably, the two generational heads of rap in the country; Obrafour and Sarkodie. The two allowed Phlow to express himself by only singing the hooks of some hardcore trade mark Hammer instrumentals. Songs like ‘Wave’, ‘Dues’, ‘Hosanna’ and ‘Asheeda’ earned Teephlow the due recognition and attention under Hammer.

Now signed to Spider Lee Entertainment, more is expected from the Fante rapper whose crafty punchlines makes you wonder how he makes creativity seem so easy.

 

OBIBINI

He reps the Ill Deadly Ministers click, IDM for short. Everything I know from Obibini is from his song. According to him, his interest in the rap game became more intense as a member of the IDMs during his school days at Adisco. Although he has been around for a while, his inroads within the Ghana music circles began with his affiliations with Dj Black and the Tomtom music label.

In 2014 he re-announced his presence in the Ghana music industry with “Ma Story” which featured Bisa Kdei. He describes himself as a hardcore rapper. The fast rapping Obibini displays dexterity on any beat thrown at him. You never get bore with his delivery and quality rhymes. In his own words, listening to him and his likes can make you do an 8 miles walk to Okponglo. Worthwhile to listen to his mixtape and singles. Now signed to Zylofon Media, the rapper wears the shoes most underground rappers dream to wear.

 

 

 

DON ITCHI

Don’t really know much about this Burma Camp boy but I know he can rap. My first exposure to Don Itchi was during a TV3 Sprite Basketball Awards show. He did not perform any song of his, but rapped to a P Square instrumental. He was phenomenal to say the least. Seemly glued to Appiatus, Itchi has released a couple of singles and has done a lot of features.   Listening to him, you realize why Okyeame Kwame’s endorsed him as the next big thing on the scene.

Rappers like Strongman, 99Kay, Selorm 3LA, Baby Scratch, Eno, Cabum, Kula, Anyemi Bone, M3dal, Bebelino, Yung Pabi and of course myself need to be given our due recognition within the Ghana rap cycle.

It is somehow surprising that Sway Kidd would ask me to write about other rappers and not myself. So in the spirit of hate I will only share a link to one of my songs which the hater (Sway) claims I was inconsistent with the beat. Hey it’s the content that counts.

 

written by: Safo Wiafe (@foksafo)

Home Isn’t Where Love Is: A look at the stabbing attempt on Stonebwoy.

Stonebwoy-with-wife-Dr-Louisa-Ansong

If Julius Caesar knew what fate had in store for him on the Ides of March, I’m sure he’d have had both Mark Anthony and Cassius arrested or barred from entering the chamber of the Senate. Despite the premonitions of his wife about him, Julius Caesar dismissed it, wore his robe and like the Emperor he was, walked into that chamber to conduct daily affairs. But, instead of him coming out impressed by the day’s proceedings, it was his lifeless body that was carried out. The man who loved Rome had been murdered in cold blood.

I first saw a link to the story about the stabbing of the wife of dancehall artist Stonebwoy on a website I’ve come to dismiss as peddlers of sensationalism. (I’ve fallen for their click bait headlines on a few occasions). It wasn’t until I saw a friend comment on a link to the story that I decided to click. It was true. Stonebwoy’s wife, Dr. Louisa Ansong was stabbed on Saturday during the ‘Ashaiman To The World Concert’ put together and headlined by Stonebwoy. A night that was to be a celebration ended up being bloody.

My first reaction was: Who Wanted to Stab Stonebwoy? More importantly: WHY?

Stonebwoy is one of the few artistes who is loved by all, not because of the incredible music he does (there are awards to show), or his amazing performances but, his respectful demeanor, a trait many who have met him reference. Stonebwoy’s rise to the top echelon of dancehall hasn’t been an easy one. His rag to riches story is inspiring. And as someone who distanced himself from the acrimonious ‘Who’s The Best Dancehall Act’ debate,  I wonder who was out there to get Stonebwoy.

‘The Ashaiman To The World Concert’ (ATTWC) was staged to celebrate his success with his home town folks. A proud Ashaiman lad, Stonebwoy hasn’t hidden his love for his hometown. Ashaiman is where his heart lies. Ashaiman is the town he bleeds. Ashaiman gave him what he has now (success, fame, respect). Ashaiman, like many ‘ghetto’ towns has earned a reputation as a tough town, where the animal kingdom rule prevails. Stonebwoy is one of the few public figures whose success attests to the fact that, the town does produce good people as well; that it’s not all gloom and doom in Ashaiman. So, going back after all these years to celebrate with them was a good thing.

According to reports, the event was a success until that point when the stabbing incident was reported. Apparently, the stabber(s) had split through the tent that was serving as the ‘room’ of Stonebwoy. According to the artiste, the knife was meant for him. Unfortunately, his wife rather became the victim.

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At this point, I asked myself: How was it possible for someone (or a group of people) to have access to Stonebwoy’s tent? Where was security?

Maintaining security has always been a challenge for event organizers, especially in Ghana when it comes to both indoor and outdoor events. It’s even worse when it’s a free outdoor concert. The crowd is mostly huge, making crowd control a nightmare. The venue for the concert obviously is an open ground, and judging by the turnout, it was free for all. Security may have been procured but may not have been adequate to control and pick out individuals who are there for mischief purposes. Don’t forget, provision of security comes at a cost too.

I recall in 2013 when Guinness Ghana hosted Akon, Big Sean and Wizkid at a concert at the Accra Sports Stadium. The security in place was enough, yet they got overwhelmed at certain points. The crowd even defied directives not to move closer to the stage. Even if Guinness Ghana, who are very resourceful (financially) had security officers stretched by the crowd, how much more Stonebwoy who may not have enough resources and hosting an event in Ashaiman? (I don’t mean no disrespect Ashaiman folks).

If security couldn’t be adequately provided by the organizers, personal security shouldn’t be taken lightly, even when at home (Ashaiman). Home love (protection) is no substitute for effective security albeit it could be of help. And when it comes to such free, open air concert, excitement does turn into mayhem at times. I’m often amazed at how fans easily jump on stage during performances with little resistance from the security. Sometimes, it’s a whole mob of fans; a dangerous situation if you ask me since anybody with ill intent could cause harm to the artiste.

According to reports, the stabbing occurred few moments before Stonebwoy took to the stage. Instead of cancelling it as many in his position would do (hi Kanye West), he went on stage to perform; to entertain the thousands who have supported his growth from his days as a young underground act trying to find his feet. The decision showed his mental toughness and how much he cherishes his fans.

There are obviously more questions to be asked from this incident. How did the assailant(s) get to his locker room or tent? What kind of security arrangements were in place to protect him, his family and friends? Who were these assailant(s) and what motivated them to cause such harm? These are questions police investigations may provide answers to.

This unfortunate and sad incident may influence other artistes to consider their personal security arrangements again and be extra cautious especially during open air concerts. Of course it may be costly but would you rather get maimed or killed when you could spend a bit more to secure your own life?

Stonebwoy may not know who was out there to get him. His wife was affected. This definitely would impact his future decisions. He undoubtedly loves Ashaiman. It’s where he comes from. It’s the place he calls home.

But, it’s worth reminding him and others that, the place we call home, where we go seeking for solace, where our hearts feel at ease may be a hydra headed dome. After all, home is where the love resides. It is also where hate lives.