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.

 

Be Yourself: The Gift of Bryan The Mensah – Apple Music’s ‘New Favorite Artiste’

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For Bryan The Mensah, 2017 shall be a year to cherish. It brought him many good tidings. He released his highly acclaimed EP ‘Friends With The Sun’; a stellar body of work that saw him facing his own flaws, criticisms, doubts, challenges young artistes like himself face- both in life ans career- and pursuing their dreams.

On 29th September, 2017, we woke up to a tweet from Bryan The Mensah celebrating an achievement. What is striking about the tweet was the tone of graciousness it carried. ‘I’m humbled. When God blesses you with a gift & you don’t sleep on it, He blesses you with another’, he tweeted. These humble words was to celebrate his selection by Apple Music as their ‘New Favorite Artist’.

To be chosen by Apple Music, the foremost music streaming service in the world as their ‘New Favorite Artist’ is huge. This is what I gathered after a search on what the New Favorite Artiste means:

‘The New Artist Spotlight is Apple Music’s way of showcasing new talents who may otherwise have gone unnoticed by many visitors to the Apple Music platform. Getting this nod means that, over 20 Million Apple Music subscribers may get to see this artiste. The artiste is given free publicity via the platform, get people to listen and or buy his album’.

According to another source of information, the selection means every Apple Music store around the world would devote an entire month of promotion, play-listing to one new breakout artist from each major apple music platform. These are some of the benefits that will accrue to an artiste.

From the above, the New Favorite Artist, as Bryan The Mensah is, will have his album on every Apple Music store around the world. The subscribers of Apple Music across the world would hear, buy and stream his album, and most importantly open him up to label heads and A&Rs who now look for talented new artists via some of these platforms.

In the midst of the many praises Bryan The Mensah is enjoying, from fans and colleague artists, his selection pontificate to one thing: Being yourself is the best. Staying different and original pays.

It is often the case, especially in present times to find upcoming artists who, in their quest to break through the mainstream door, conforming to the ‘what’s hot’ bandwagon. New artistes often try to fit themselves into folds that deviate from what they truly wish to create. The patience to create a great, quality piece of work is often side-stepped. Those who stay true to their vision ultimately succeed. Of course there is nothing wrong in following a wave or trend as an artiste. The real issue is whether it compromises want you wish to create.

Listening to Friends With The Sun (FWTS), you notice how experimental the music is. In between these experimentations are words that offers you a glimpse into the mind of Bryan, especially when it came to making music. He isn’t here to conform to what is hot. Even if a trend is popping off, he’d employ it and create something that reflect him. That sense of staying true is a running theme on FWTS.

 

On ‘Pop Mandem’, Bryan raps: ‘I go always stay true/Nipa koraa y3 den/ you no fi mix me with the fake dudes’. This lyric projects who he is: an artiste who’s willing to stay true to himself and his craft. The point is furthered on part of the accompanying hook: ‘don’t listen to the one wey dem no dey agree….the just under pressure cos they no dey believe’.

A lyric like ‘This thing really no bi competition, if you get your wave, massa go and catch fish with it’ on ‘Wallabow You’ sounds very simple yet reflect who Bryan The Mensah is: someone who isn’t rushing to be famous by following what’s new. Fame shall come and he wants that to happen organically.

The King of Tea, as Bryan refers to himself, is seeing his stock rise among music fans since this accolade. Scrolling through social media (twitter), you realize how this feat is winning him new fans. People who have never heard or listened to any of his songs are now paying attention, handing him the props he rightly deserves.

Artists can’t be forced to pursue the same lane. Each one of them has a game plan on how to break into the scene. The quest to become famous quickly makes it incredibly hard to stay true to yourself by creating the kind of music you want to considering the pressures from labels, management teams and even friends.

But, the benefits that comes with such an effort- being headstrong and creating what you truly believe in- can be overwhelming. Bryan The Mensah’s huge achievement accentuate this fact.

Fancy Gadam played himself on ‘Total Cheat’: A funny look at this summer hit song.

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Fancy Gadam and Sarkodie on the ‘Total Cheat’  video shoot. photo from his twitter page 

If the use of ‘summer’ got you raising your eyebrows, then, you don’t know what time it is (no apologies to Sarkodie). Summer has entered our weather season lexicon courtesy the abrokyire people (the diasporans, returnees mostly). And even though it’s mostly hot in this part of our world, we can’t  ignore the use of the term- summer too!

Now that we’ve settled that ‘summer’ confusion, let’s talk about Fancy Gadam. Ever since his ‘coup’ at the 2016 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards- where he won the award for New Artiste of the Year against all odds- he is proving why he deserved that accolade.

We all saw the viral video of his triumphant return to Tamale after his win. The crowd that came to meet him was similar to a Roman emperor returning from a victorious conquest. The artiste who can rival that crowd is Shatta Wale, arguably. Fancy Gadam and Macassio seems to be the two biggest pop artistes from the northern part of the country making waves. The Northern region has some incredible talents who are respected and regarded in their ‘homeland’. Unfortunately, their music barely permeates the southern market.

Atongo Zimba, King Ayisoba got noticed off the back of their traditional brand of music music they made. Sheriffa Gunu hasn’t really stamped her name within the pop music arena. Wiyaala is another ‘northern star’ presently making huge waves. Fancy Gadam and Macassio are now rearing their head very strongly. If you want to know more about the art scene in the Northern part of the country, @wunpini_fm  has the juice. Her blog, savannahlifestyle.org is a curating pot.

Back to the topic, Fancy Gadam has released a mega hit. His latest outing ‘Total Cheat’ is a jam. With production from the award winning Killbeatz and a feature from Sarkodie, ‘Total Cheat’, with its catchy afropop aura, gripping melody, simple hook and the bounce is a radio formatted jam. And it’s unsurprising to hear many radio stations locking it in their playlist. The song has an impressive video to match. The David Nicol-Sey directed video received the ‘DNS’ (Nicol’s initials by the way) treatment: glossy, great use of light, fashion(nable), well edited.

The song and its lyrics is where my attention lies. For those who haven’t heard the song, Fancy Gadam details the cheating and deceptive ways of his lover (I’ll come to that soon). First, the song title- Total Cheat- sounds like a Ghallywood movie title. It tells you exactly what to expect without watching the movie. Same applies to the song. One can easily deduce what Fancy is going to whine about.

Then the lyrics come in and there you realize who Fancy really is. Yes, men lie, women lie too. Men cheat, women cheat as well. But to be cheated on or be deceived in more ways that one is an absolute heartbreaking shit (strike through thing). Based on the chorus alone, you sense it’s not a fancy (all pun intended) situation. ‘She be born one virgin/ born two virgin/ born three virgin/she be born four virgin’, he sings with a tone of shock, not the pain in his voice. This hook leaves me with so many questions.

Unless Fancy Gadam was in a long distance relationship, it should be possible to figure out if a girl you are seriously dating has kid(s). Of course, one could hide the fact that they have a child for fear of losing the person they love. However, it would be such a strange tale for a ‘born four’ (single mother with four kids) to hide such truth for a long while. Fancy Gadam expressing shock about this means he’s not diligent- an unacceptable trait to have in these times. He’s the type of guy who loses his reasoning abilities in the face of love. Love being a drug playing out right there.

Another question: how can you date someone without seeing her actual face? Unless she’s Arya Stark who can wear someone’s face. I must admit, make-ups do wonders. The makeup artistes are the real devils of our time. It’s a jaw dropping moment each time I see a video of how they transform some ‘ordinary’ looking ladies into stunning damsels. It’s ridiculously unbelievable.

Why be say I marry you beautiful/ Next day and you are ugly

But, at a point, one would definitely see her ‘real face’. You’ll definitely visit her home. Go out on a swim date or have her sleep over at least once. Being shocked at seeing her face a day after your marriage confirms my suspicion that Fancy Gadam was in a long distant (online) relationship; the reason he never got the opportunity to see her in the physical, take her out on a date, never indulged in sleepovers or got to know her family or her friends. In my opinion, only online dating could bring about such a wrong choice in a relationship.

Based off this misfortune that befell him, one could clearly say Fancy Gadam wasn’t smart enough. He allowed himself to be played big time. He allowed love to blind him totally. For his lack of smartness, he deserved to be cheated on. He obviously didn’t pay heed to Daddy Lumba’s famous advice that ‘mbaa bi y3 dangerous’. (Some girls are dangerous). Fancy Gadam cheated himself.

Throwback: MzBel feat Castro – Yoopoo

 

IMG_20170706_171524Today marks the third year since Castro disappeared. Till date, no concrete news has been adduced for his disappearance. Whatever has been in the news reel is based on plausible speculations. Today’s throwback isn’t deliberately to celebrate Castro, even though it would not been out of place. It’s just a coincidence that the throwback song for this week features him. 

 

For starters, let me state emphatically that I’m a MzBel fan for two great reasons: one, she has consistently worn her sexuality with such offending resplendence since she first emerged on the music stage a decade and half ago. Two, MzBel is a strong person who hasn’t allowed her past to define her. She has been raped, abused and judged negatively by society, yet the singer/rapper, Nana Akua, walks with her chin high and her upper lip tight.

Of course, she hasn’t been very professional in expressing her opinions on certain subjects, be it political or social level. Her comments have always been more stronger than her physique. The backlash her actions often court is self-inflicted.

These notwithstanding, MzBel is a trail blazer. She succeeded in shattering the ceiling as far as how female artistes were suppose to carry themselves. She entered the music scene when being ‘descent’ was the general expectation. She, however chose to show that moral code the middle finger and bring her baddest behavior to the fore.

The Sassy Girl’s showbiz persona was heard in her music, seen in her videos and during performances. The lyrics of her songs were explicit and suggestive, her performances ridiculously rauchy and her videos, often steamy. MzBel wasn’t a good girl who went bad. She was damn bad from the onset. 

One of her songs that confirmed these qualities was the 2004 hit song ‘Yoopoo’. From every angle you look at it, ‘Yoopoo’ (a slang which loosely translate as excellently done) was bound to be a hit. From the production to artistes featured to the music, ‘Yoopoo’ was a hit from the first day.

MzBel had prior to the song established herself as the foremost female artiste on the secular music scene. Her debut single ‘Ade d33d3’ (Sweetest Thing) had earned her deserved popularity. The producer behind ‘Yoopo’, JQ, was also establishing himself as one of the hit makers in the country (he was adjuged the best producer at the 2004 Ghana Music Awards). JQ was then managing a young, vibrant and multi- talented singer/rapper Castro. Also, Screwface, a rising dancehall artiste was also sliding atop the dancehall wave.

MzBel ensured she showcased her bad behaviour on the song. ‘Yoopoo’ is very sexually toned yet claded in metaphors to conceal its true meaning. The Two language employs a lot of metaphors especially in expressing sexual thoughts making it easy for artistes to incorporate in their music. 

But, despite this observation, MzBel was MzBel on the song; singing and rapping about her sexual encounter/intentions for a man as the chorus indicated : he loves it when I’m sitting on him but gets mad when i get up and leave/ my love do it quick/I don’t have capa (the strength)’.

Castro also took the baton from MzBel and painted a nice picture of MzBel’s fearsome sexual abilities which could get you confused: ‘get me my cigarette to light up my matches’. In a trade-off of verses, she emphasized her naughtiness again: ‘i’ll ride you to heaven when I get you’. Screwface’s verse completed the narrative. He was indicative of her sex is the magic that keeps him staisfied.

JQ’s production was absolutely splendid. His signature beat which combines elements of highlife and Ga Jama rhythms (with it’s soft bubbling drums) and trombone (horn) placements gave Yoopoo an element of catchiness. This jama influenced sound made JQ a go to producer for artistes seeking that big commercial tune. 

It has been more than 10 years since Yoopoo was released. Yet, it still sounds evergreen and nostalgic. Not only would you sing along the memorable hook, if not the entire song, it still carries the magnetic pull that would get you to twirl around even if your dancing is as depressing as mine.

MzBel has a place in my heart still. She made some of the best music of her career songs from the early 2000s to around 2010. Songs that still sounds timeless. And in my eyes, MzBel shattered the ceiling and inspired some of today’s female musicians like Ebony to let the sexuality pervade the music they make. After all, there’s nothing shameful about being slutty on wax and videos.

And for that single act, MzBel deserves her praise. Yoopoo, just like other songs by her is certainly a classic tune.

One Year On: The birth of a ‘godMC’

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Thursday 30th June, 2016.

History is replete with iconic moments that end up impacting the world in a positive manner.  These moments move from mere incidents to great encounters that outlive generations. Nostalgia is what it provokes in those who lived to witness it. For the others who get to be told, fascination is what fills them up. For many Ghanaian music enthusiast, that iconic moment was June 30th, 2016.

Nobody saw it coming. Nobody expected it. It came to us like the rapture; many went to sleep the night with no expectation of a brooding ‘war’, yet woke up to the talk about the biggest heist in the Ghanaian hip hop history. For weeks, the world stopped spinning. The opinion tap was opened and they flowed in torrents, on social media, on blogs, radio, TV and newspapers. Rap intellectuals got busy scrutinizing lyrics. Many took to social media to mock and throw shade at the victim of attack while others kept wondering if they would be a clap back. In all the ensuing melee, one poignant question that remained unanswered was the trigger for arguably, the best diss song ever on the Ghanaian hip hop scene.

What makes ‘godMC’ such a dope song was the display of creative depth in terms of wordplay by M.anifest: “Don’t compare me to stone boy, I’m Amarula (I’m a ruler)’’. The delivery was calmer and charming; a rare quality seen in the art of dissing. He displayed a sense of humanity; appearing respectful in tone yet cruelly stinging Sarkodie with his words: ‘go to the market/buy yourself some manner/ don’t use my name in vain that’s just for starters’. He was like Mohammed Ali dancing around his opponents, ducking punches and stinging them like a bee.

M.anifest, a rapper whose deftness in rap (hip hop) was appreciated by few, saw his career take an upward progression after releasing his surprised, game changing single ‘godMC’. The song caused a stir among music fans, finally confirming the suspicion of a subtle beef between Sarkodie and himself. The genesis of the beef commenced when Sarkodie released ‘Bossy’, a braggadocio song where he referenced M.anifest’s moniker ‘M. do do ti do’ when ending his rap. Nine days after, M.anifest (M.Dot) dropped his response on ‘godMC’.

The song elevated M.anifest from the shadows of hip hop to the centre of the rap conversation. The light finally beamed on him and his career has never been the same ever. Surely, M.Dot would have been a force within the rap scene. But, ‘godMC’ sped his recognition process.

Dream Jay, the producer of ‘godMC’ laid the perfect afro-trap beat for M.anifest to rip apart. The opening horns which were expertly placed at the beginning of each bar sounded warlike. The placement of Lil Win’s famous ‘I can’t think madness’ quote evoked a sense of ill-intent albeit comical. His words were like molten lava spreading steadily over the beats.

The controversy that ‘godMC’ elicited was all positive since it, for over a month had eyes on the hip hop/hiplife music scene. It also saw ‘dead’ artistes throwing their hook of relevance off the back of the controversy. The biggest beneficiary was undoubtedly M.anifest. He got all the attention that would have taken him years to work towards finding. Many Ghanaians, including non-music fans were suddenly interested in knowing the rapper who had dared thrown shot at Sarkodie. ‘godMC’ brought M.anifest more exposure than his award winning song ‘Someway Bi’ ever did. And like an experienced warrior who has studied his opponent over a long period, he walked away when Sarkodie responded knowing his work was done.

M.anifest’s audacity to stop tiptoeing around names through his subliminal lyrics and calling out Sarkodie in such a manner is akin to Leonidas’ flying spear glazing the flesh of Darius, the god king. I’m not sure M.anifest had the intention of ‘dethroning’ Sarkodie. He wanted to show that, a king also bleeds. It’s important to also remember that, ‘godMC’, a diss track got M.anifest a VGMA best hip hop rapper plaque.

by Swaye (@swayekidd)

My visit to Mmofra Park

Safe playgrounds and open spaces are not a common sight in Accra. It’s an ironic situation considering Accra is deemed a ‘Millennium City’ (we revel in labels).  Parents, Guardians and adults seeking a very serene environment for moments of solace struggle to settle on one. 

So, a couple of weeks ago when I got invited to the Mmofra Park by one of the people I consider a mentor, I obliged for two reasons: one, you don’t ever turn your back on a request from someone you honestly respect. Second, it was an opportunity for me to find out what really the Mmofra Park was about.

I’ve heard about Mmofra Park, an initiative by the Mmofra Foundation. I’ve been invited to events at the venue on more than two occasions but failed to honour the invitations on both occasions, sadly.

The Mmofra Park

Located at Dzorwulu, som 5 mins walk from the Abelemkpe traffic intersection (you turn right when you are driving from the Perez Church). As the name suggest, “Mmofra” which means Children or kids in twi, is a playground for children. The park is everything that the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, deemed as the nation’s children’s park, is not.

The park is the vision of the famed playwright and activist, Efua T. Sutherland. According to information I gathered, she bought the land many decades ago when Dzorwulu was nothing like it is today. (Dzorwulu was considered an unfit area for human habitation. Today, it’s one of the prime areas in the city).

The Sutherland family converted the land into what their forebear had always wanted; a safe, serene and educative playground for kids. 

It’s such a tragedy that a bustling city like Accra has next to no safe spaces or grounds for it’s inhabitants especially children. Early childhood development experts have indicated how important playing is in the development process of kids. An article published by the Guardian newspaper on child education in Europe showed that, kids in Norway grow smarter because the educational system places much emphasis on playing than rigorous classroom work. 

One of the best things playgrounds like Mmofra afford is the opportunity for parents to strengthen the bond between themselves and their kids; for kids to bond with other kids; and also develop friendships with other families through play and education. The park is the perfect avenue for socialization and friendship making. 

The park looks like a work in progress. It’s evidently clear that the owners have the intention of expanding the park. For now, kids can play on the swings, indulge in a game of basketball or kick some football around along with the usual running and other sporting activities. Parents could host birthday parties or picnics for the kids at the park as well.

Even though it’s a park for kids, the atmosphere offers the right ambience for adults who wish to do some reading, writing, thinking or indulge in mediation. The quietness is the perfect incentive. 

With the city seeing a fast paced commercialization and occupation of every space of land thanks to gentrification and real estate developments, it is a resounding move to see there are people whose interest lies in the provision of excellent place for both leisure and educative purposes for young kids.

If you’ve never been there, you should visit the facility. For parents looking to spend some quality time with their kids on weekends and holidays, Mmofra Park is the ideal place for you. It’s good to visit the mall but spending time with your kids in an open space is an experience. Don’t worry about the cost. It’s extremely affordable.