Bridging the Gap between Art and Politics: How Tuface Idibia and Tekno are leading the way

(all photos courtesy Royal TV)

Art and Politics. 

The arguments have raged on whether the two are distinct​ or are mutually inexclusive. The arguments of those who advocate  the separation rest in the fact that, artists don’t understand the nuances of politics and are therefore liable to misinform, misjudge and miseducate the masses who believe in their words. This ‘flaw’ is enough reason for them to step away from politics.

For defenders of the second school of thought, art reflect the state of affairs at any period of time, therefore artists- writers, poets, painters, dramatists and musicians- forming a critical part of the society, must involve themselves in the process. Any call for them to be uninterested in the political dealings of their society is assinine.

Although, the first argument sound ridiculous, the actions/inactions of some artists to recline into the comfortable chair of inactivism has fuelled the believe among people that, artists must not enter the political fray. The only occasion that guarantees them the right to indulge in politics is when they become full time politicians. 

Artists in Africa have always been political animals. Through the pre-independence era to post-independence epoch, records exist to show that, some African artists were very active participants within the political independence struggle. 

One country that found it’s artists blurring the two gulfs (if there exist any) is Nigeria especially post- independence in 1960. From writers such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Ken Saro-Wiwa to foremost musicians like Fela Anikulapo Kuti along with many others, they never missed an opportunity to criticize their country’s leaders, whom they consider liable for Nigeria’s viscous transformation to a better society, both on the political, social and economic fronts. 

Whiles Ken Saro-Wiwa paid the high price for his activities, Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe fled into exile when their lives became threatened. Fela Kuti however, stayed in Nigeria, suffered for his commentaries (through his music), most times at the peril of his life, albeit taking shelter sometimes in Ghana when the political heat became unbearable.

The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of it’s leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership – Chinua Achebe, The Trouble With Nigeria

The torch of political consciousness lighted by Fela Kuti through his music continued to burn after his death. In his kids, Femi and Seun Kuti, his legacy lives. Other musicians, of recent generation, inspired by Fela have stepped into the fray, the prognosis of the Nigerian society serving as their artistic fodder. 

These musicians are not oblivious of the consequences of their actions: trumped up criminal charges, accusations and losing fans. They, however, recognize their civic roles of edifying the populace of happenings in society. By discussing the everyday struggles of the average citizen and identifying with their plight, these musicians are demystifying the notion of living in a comfortable bubbe-their riches or success are shielding them from the harsh realities facing the ordinary guy.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a video by one of the influential musicians in Nigeria, Tuface Idibia which carried a very important political theme. It was a video for his single “Holy Holy”. The song addresses the many allegations and challenges that Tuface encountered when he attempted to step near the political fire. He knew he’d sweat from stepping too close, yet he did. 

Earlier this year, news emerged that Tuface was organizing a demonstration against the choking economic crisis facing Nigeria; the country was going through a recession. The march didn’t happen. Whiles he was criticized by both the political class and some Nigerians for his ‘politically’ motivated march (it was alleged he was being used by the opposition), there were rumours of him being paid off by the government to call off the protest march. On “Holy Holy”, the ‘African Queen’ singer addressed some of the issues. The video of the song conveyed much more than what the lyrics offered.

The video for Holy Holy:

The video for “Holy Holy” spotlight two interesting ideas: first, the criticism and the overall actions of sections of the public when an individual decides to critique the political system. Second, it brings into focus the state of Nigeria after independence per its overall development. Even though the song is about Tuface and his trials, it also extends to all who get attacked for their political opinions.

As you get opinion make you know say other people get opinion too/Jah Jah love so amazing/I keep elevating’ – Tuface, Holy Holy

The first image that’s seen in the video is of kids fleeing from an area under attack: the flume, the gunshots and the confusion. The scene reflect the often seen mayhem that the senseless terror attacks carried out by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. 

A Fela Kuti video interview follows. Fela, in this interview sums up the reaction of Africans in the face of serious issues which should court their anger: ‘we suffer and smile’, he observed. A shot of a black Mercedes Benz (Nigeria’s love Benz) with numerous daggers (matchetes) stuck into it comes along. A sparkling Eagle emblem (National symbol) ironically sit on this old car. The Benz bears the registration number 1960.

The Benz, the matchete sticking through it, the shining Eagle emblem and the number plate of 1960 is a metaphor for the state of Nigeria. The burnt Benz represent the corroding state of Nigeria (the blatant corruption, mismanagement of resources); the shining eagle represent the pride of Nigeria; the registration number of 1960 is when Nigeria became independent.

2Baba, in his black (mourning) jalabia (traditional gown) is shown gazing across a vast land from a hilltop. He’s ‘visited’ by people from diverse backgrounds– priests, ordinary folks, judges, sultans, security persons who pelt him with stones. But, their efforts are thwarted by the invisible shield around him. This scene ties in to the earlier criticism he suffered when he decided to organize the demonstration and eventually backing off.

Towards the end of this Clarence A. Peters directed video, the Benz catches fire with Tuface, emerging from the flame dressed in all white, waving the Green, White and Green flag of Nigeria. A new dawn, a new optimism, a new dream. A clear case of it must get destroyed before we elevate. 

On “Holy Holy”, Tuface told his own story- his frustrations, his dream for his country, the current state of affairs of Nigeria and his ultimate wish of a corruption free, peaceful, and developed Nigeria. 

Before “Holy Holy”, another artiste had broached the subject of Nigeria and it’s affairs. Tekno, has made a name off the back of his hit song “Pana”. With it’s minimal tone, well infused synths and mid-tempo groove, Tekno won hearts and admiration for his stellar output. Other equally happy tunes followed, including production and writing credits for other big name artistes (he wrote and produced ‘IF’ for Davido​). 

But, one song that defined Tekno’s versatility and political consciousness is “Ra Ra”, a highlife influenced song. The song focuses on the conumdrum that is Nigeria: a country which has, since 1960 been scared to rise to it’s potential as a developed country despite it’s reources-oil and people. Tekno, touches on the issues of eternal energy crisis, poverty and under-development. 

He reminds the political authorities​ to satisfy the basic needs of the citizens before moving to the bigger things. His opening lyrics on “Ra Ra” dovetails into the observation by Fela at the start of the “Holy Holy” video. Tekno sings these words in pidgin: “my country people/dem dey talk talk/ dem just dey paramboulat/so so story every year”.

He touches on the energy crisis that has bedeviled Nigeria for decades and point to corruption as the reason. It’s a irony that, one of the worlds producers of oil can’t produce enough for the use of it’s citizens: ”NEPA no bring light/ Generator wan tear my ear/ Plenty greedy man for there”.  He goes on to remind the political authorities that dreaming big is great but satisfying the basic needs is of greater importance: ” forget about the big things/ so make we talk about the small things”.

International something/ Is a big situation/ Dem dey pack our money/take it to other nation

Invest for your country o/Spend the money for your country/ Make it a better place – Tekno (Ra Ra)

There’s no dichotomy between Arts and Politics. These two are more like Siamese twins than identical twins. Whereas art mirrors the political temperature, politics provides the fodder for artists to feed on. Even if there are efforts to separate the two, some artists still remind us that, that separation is nothing but a mirage. 

And it is heartwarming to see that, artists aren’t just finding inspiration in the political conditions in their respective country but are stepping within the political realm as activists; doing their bit in raising consciousness, projecting the challenges within their society and pressuring authorities to concentrate efforts in addressing these concerns. 

Taking a decision to be an activist has it’s consequences, sometimes injurious to the artists and those closest to them. This fear cows a lot of African artists from being vocal on political issues. But, as stakeholders in the political sphere, shying away from human related issues betrays your calling as an artists. That’s why Tuface and Tekno deserve all the love and encouragement. Not mission shattering criticisms. 

Rapper Wanlov shares inspiration behind the making of ‘Orange Card’ album

If there’s one thing most Ghanaian artistes aren’t good at, it is going out of their way to share the inspiration or concepts behind the songs or albums they make. One artiste, doing just that is songwriter, rapper and producer, Wanlov The Kubolor. 

Days after releasing his fourth studio album, ”Orange Card – Fruitopian Raps” (album was released on 26th April, 2017 ), the ‘My Toto’  performer took to twitter to explain, in short details, the inspiration behind each track and why he featured those he did on the album.

“Orange Card: My Fruitopian Rap” is a 21 track album and features a host of artistes like M3nsa, Mutombo Da Poet, Anjolee (she was on his first album Green Card), Worlasi, Kay-Ara, Joey B, Medikal AMG, Sister Debbie, Dex Kwasi, Kwame Write and many others.

The album is influenced heavily by the general circumstances plaguing the country such as the plastic menace, galamsey, dumsor, neo-colonialism, immigration and corruption.

For any keen observer of Wanlov, it’s unsurprising to hear him tackle such issues on ‘Orange Card’. His socio-political advocacy against corruption hasn’t been a recent preoccupation. On his debut album ‘Green Card’, released in 2007, he addressed such concerns​. He has also been very vocal against environmental pollution (galamsey and plastic waste menace), homophobia and religious bigotry.

It is a well known fact that Wanlov divides opinions in more ways than one. His critics will point to his controversial​ opinions and his intolerance for differing views especially when it bothers on his art or that of his close pals. One, however, cannot fault his creativity or artistry, whether in crafting music or drawing up concepts for his films and videos.

By sharing insights on how the album and songs were inspired, Wanlov has provided, not only a dimension for ‘Orange Card’ to be appreciated. He has led the way in helping document these concepts without being requested to.

Watch his song-by-song interview with BeatPhreaks recently.

follow Wanlov for more updates on @wanlov

Video Review: Joey B – Sunshine

After some 6 months of silence, rapper Joey B returns to our screen/radio with new visuals/song for ‘Sunshine’, a movie themed, dark video with many high points.

Let’s all agree on something: Joey B is on a different wave. He is actually running a course many aren’t walking. It’s this: he’s not dropping singles before visuals. He’s releasing both at the same time. The last he did was with 89, his nostalgia-provoking tune/video. (Read our review here).

His new release, ‘Sunshine’ can be described in only positive terms: Brilliant. Creative. Cinematic. Magnificent. With Prince Dovlo at the helm as director along with Joey B, the two create their own version of ‘Magnificent Seven’-the movie. On the song/video, Joey B is lamenting about staying successful, the many frustrating obstacles hindering his dream: enviness and vile jealousy that plagues the industry (the whole industry be fake). He asks God to save him and grant him strength: ‘Yesu gyimi na me br3/work too hard I just dey stress/At times I wan’ shun then bed’, he sing-raps over sobering trap beat punctuated by piano chords. He continues on the hook: ain’t no Sunshine/ain’t no rain/all I wanna do is reign’. 

Sunshine is heavily influenced by Spaghetti Western movie themes. The difference here is that Joey B (aka Charlie Kwame Ranger) playing the lead role as a bounty hunter. Highlights of the video include the brilliant use of light. The video is mostly shot in dark, with bits of silhouette scenes infused in it. The only source of light are the flickers of fire ostensibly to warm themselves. The costumes are also vintage (cowboy apparels) as seen in movies like Django, Magnificent Seven. Even the lettering used to announce the cast is Quintin Tarantino/Django-esque. And what is a Spaghetti Western-inspired video without a horse? (dark horse for that matter).

A few symbolism can be gleaned from the video as well. The passing train scene with it’s blaring horn at the beginning of the video suggest the bold entry of Joey B, with the intention of wrecking damage to all who stand his way. (Joey B has been  quiet after 89). The lynching scene could mean hanging his troubles including haters. The ‘darkness’ of the video carries a multi-layered theme: the dark state of the music scene with him as the bringer of light or sunshine. It could also mean he makes his entry during the dark hours so his enemies won’t see him coming.

It’s impressionable to see Prince Dovlo stepping away from the often glitzy videos we have come to associate him with to delivering this dark video for Joey B. The concept won’t come as a surprise knowing that Prince Dovlo is himself a movie director.

Joey B has been annoyingly quiet for such a long while. The last time he released any material was some 6 months ago (89 video/song). For the many wondering what he’s up to, Sunshine is the answer. He’s been working. Joey B is here, putting some ‘Sunshine’ into our lives. The only reservation about this video is simply that, it’s damn too short and the song is a step less than the visuals.

Throwback: Ekow Shi-Lo feat Buk Bak – Kete Pa

If you pause to think about what is happening now with music, especially the quality of lyrics being spewed lately, compared to what was the case some two decades ago, one wonders what has changed.

Back then, we had songs being censored and taken off radio for lyrics considered ‘distasteful’. Famous song that received such ‘blackout’ was ‘Moses’ by highlife legend A.B Crentsil. His crime was creating a song with very suggestive lyrics. ‘Moses’, is still banned on radio since it’s release some three decades ago. (released in 1983).

One song which was banned ‘temporarily’ on radio was ‘Kete Pa’ by highlife artiste Ekow Shai-Low. Released in the early 2000s, Kete Pa (which means excellent bed) was created on R&B influence – as with many other songs of that era. ‘Kete Pa’ was also euphemism for sex. 

The Song

In the song, Ekow Shi-Lo was sweet talking a lady into loving him; expressing what he is willing to offer her if she becomes his girl, including good sex. He featured the legendary rap duo Buk Bak, who were signed to Abib Records also around that time. Buk Bak consisting of Ronnie (RIP) and Bright added ragga and rap verses to make the song hip and appealing to a younger audience.

The temporary ban suffered by Kete Pa, released under Abib Records wasn’t much about the lyrics of the entire song. It was a single line in the song that warranted the ban. The line which translates from Twi as ‘blessed are the ones whose stick stays hard or strong all night’ was considered, among conservative Ghanaian music enthusiastic, as crude, offensive and morally corrupting. For it to be played, Ekow Shi-Lo had to edit that part out. He and Abib Records obliged.

The Video

The video carried a very simple storyline which a non-Twi speaker could easily grasp. Shot by JoeJoe Quagraine and Kwame Ofori with King Luu (as Art Director), Ekow Shi-Lo is seen in a furniture shop hoping to purchase a bed (as the title reflect). A wink was all Ekow flashed at a girl to win her over from her guy who was trying to reconcile with her.

The video had some dope moments; some which would definitely get you screaming woohoo!! The flying bed scene at the end was so epic that they had it show it twice. Also, there was a ‘singing’ Ekow Shi-Lo billboard (were they aware they were advertising for Castle Milk Stout?) was brilliant (check from the 1:05 mins).

The fashion was a blend between African prints and early 2000 hip hop gears of NFL jerseys and baggy jeans (as worn by Buk Bak). One can’t also miss the comic moments in the video and the famous Ako Adjei Interchange with Shi-Lo and Buk Bak having a good time.

Comparing what befell ‘Kete Pa’ and some of the sexually cringing lyrics found in today’s music which is played on the radio, you ask what has changed? Is censorship not a big deal again? Have we mainstreamed lewd lyrics? Or we don’t care anymore?

 

NOT ALL SHOUTS ARE IN VAIN: What the 2017 VGMAs confirmed

Besides seeing our favourite artistes win an award or two on such big nights as the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs), the surprises are what many live for. Witnessing history being made is a moment that lives with you forever. That’s exactly what happened last Saturday when gospel artiste, Joe mettle was crowned ‘The Artiste of the Year’ at the 17th Edition of the annual music festival. The win was of great significance. It was the first time a gospel artiste had won the top award.

jmet

History would have been made, Joe Mettle’s win notwithstanding. Most of the nominees in that category were previous winners. EL, if he had won, would have become the first artiste to win it back to back. Sarkodie and Stonebwoy had won the awards in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Although these past winners had had a great year, it was Joe Mettle, who seemed, based on the murmurs, to hold the sail that was to bring the wind of change.

Days after the 2016 edition of the VGMAs, I ghost wrote an article in which I made a point that gospel artistes need to position themselves well if they are to win the top award. My concluding statement was: It must, however be said that, until gospel artistes realize that they are in competition with these secular music artistes and begin to learn their ways in respect of management, promotions and positioning themselves not a gospel artistes but artistes who do gospel music, they shall forever be overlooked when it matters during Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.

The win by Joe Mettle is well deserved. He has been very visible during the year under review. A cursory look at the history of the awards shows that, for years, the gospel artistes have come close yet far from clinching the top crown. The last time a gospel artiste came close to making history was in 2004 when Daughters of Glorious Jesus were pipped to it by VIP. The gospel wins has always been within the gospel categories-Best Gospel Song, Best Gospel Artiste and Best Gospel Album. For instance, in 2016, out of the twenty-nine (29) categories, only two were gospel specific categories (the best album category was scrapped).

jmet2

For some time now, a creeping phenomenon is infiltrating the awards scheme. It is what I would describe as ‘shout-to-be-heard’ phenomenon. Many gospel artistes have, on numerous occasions accused Charter House of deliberately been overlooking their efforts and impact as far as the awards are concern. Most of them share the view that, there is a bias against them; something which contribute to them continuously playing second fiddle to their secular companions especially when it comes to The Artiste of the Year category.

The accusations or ‘shouts of bias’ became intense last year, when one of the strongest voices in the gospel music scene began an advocacy for his colleagues to be rewarded for their works. Nacee, a singer and producer even called on his colleagues to start their own music awards because of this obvious bias.  One year on, not only did Nacee pick up two awards (Gospel song and Gospel Album), Joe Mettle won three awards on the night including Artiste of the Year. The ‘shouts’ by Nacee aside, we have seen how secular artistes like Shatta Wale and Kwaw Kesse have, at various points, vented at the VGMA organizes for being unfair to them. As if by coincidence, these artistes won awards in the next editions of the ceremony including the Artiste of the Year.

They are not alone. Critics of the events have also pointed to the fact that, the nomination is not national enough; that only artistes who dominate charts in Accra and to some extent Kumasi get nominated. This leaves artistes who are making waves in other regions but have not yet broken the music ceilings in Accra and Kumasi out of the pack.

FANCY

New Artiste Fancy Gadam

So, it was of great joy to see an artiste like Fancy Gadam , a Tamale based artiste pick the plaque for New Artiste of the Year. The consternation that greeted Fancy Gadam’s win especially on twitter was to some extent, valid. Medikal (AmgMedikalhad had a very outstanding 2016 and among music fans deserved it. However, it was soon pointed out that Fancy Gadam was no mean an artiste. He is a celebrated artiste in the Northern part of Ghana, where he hails. Photos shared on twitter of his sold out shows-where he filled the 20,000 capacity Tamale Sports Stadium-gave credence to why he deserved the award. The fact that his music hadn’t broken the Accra and Kumasi music ceiling (mainstream radio) doesn’t invalidate his status.

I’m not seeking to downplay the awards as it stands. Of course, each year, the organizers have been criticized by many for what they consider unfair treatment of certain artistes. These criticisms shall continue since each artiste and fans would want their work to be appreciated. The ones who are capable of ‘shouting’ the loudest and seeing their fortunes turn the next award year could be a case of pure coincidence, after all, public voting determines who wins what. It is also a proof of how a listening organization Charter House is becoming- expanding the list of artistes and taking note of the concerns of other artistes and critics.

The awards shall continue to draw criticisms from people who don’t win. The controversies shall always be part of event. It’s a human institution and an event based largely on public voting is not expected to be entirely perfect. The critique must be valid and the organizers must also take note and act appropriately.

It holds true that, the success and credibility of an artistes is not measured by the ‘how many awards’ scale. Success is achieved through hard work: recording of good tunes, selling shows and investing in promotion. However, the years have shown us that, sometimes one need to shout louder to get noticed and validated.

Success of Shatta Wale is testament to cultivating passionate fans

shatta

photo from twitter

They never dey talk say Shatta be good always I be bad/I for win award for being me/ no be today wey we start this thing

Dem dey kai when I say I be the dancehall king/ But I no say dem dey like my thing

Make I repeat am again. Nobody can stop me/ My mind I dey use be high time key – AYOO

There are two types of leaders. Those who, based on their popularity, build a team of dedicated fans ready to stand by them to the hilt. And there are leaders who build their support long before they even climb the ladder of leadership. The fans of the latter are very loyal, passionate and dedicated to the course; ready to sweat, bleed, and also spring and break their bones for their leader. The supporters are more passionate than 10th century religious fanatics.

The latter describes Shatta Wale and the one pivot on which his success lives. For four (4) years, the ‘Shatta’ brand has been on the rise. The consistency has been mind- blowing due, in large part, to the expression of unflinching loyalty of his fans- defending his sometimes irate actions; patronizing his songs and massively parading at his concerts. Shatta’s rise has been well documented. His 2012/13 hit song ‘Dancehall King’ didn’t win the 2013 VGMA Reggae/ Dancehall accolade and that set the alarms off. Shatta took issues and as if by design, his popularity began to soar after the jaw dropping episode.

Fast forward to today, Shatta Wale remains arguably the most popular artiste in Ghana. It can be said that, he is shoulder and above all his contemporaries-Sarkodie included. This support is much on display if you have been to any of his concerts. I have to admit I have not been to many Shatta Wale concerts but the few I’ve seen had always left me in awe. His charisma is riveting; his performance is energy packed and his music catalogue is crazy (he confirmed to have released over 100 songs last year during an interview on Adom FM). The bundle of energy he exhibit on stage is enough to earn him the ‘energy god’ accolade.

Although some have criticized his style of churning out music (his reliance on a lottery hit song format), his fans aren’t perturb. They want the music and that’s what he is offering. The true Shatta fans know almost all his songs- both the ones that cross into the mainstream sphere (commercial tunes) and those that remain off the charts. These fans don’t just know the songs, they can sing it word for word, as if they helped in the writing of the lyrics.  True, Shatta Wale is no singer. His use of auto tune is nauseating sometimes. His beats are almost similar, his style is not varied enough and his lyrics are often basic, yet these limitations are not huge enough to blot the shine of the ‘Korle Gonno ni mij3’.

On the subject of lyrics, I was one who rarely paid attention to what Shatta says on songs. Usually, the chorus of the song is enough to make me bop. However, it wasn’t until I heard legendary producer, Hammer (Last Two) speak about Shatta’s lyricism in an interview on Joy FM’s Ghana Connect. Hammer described Shatta as a lyricists who is dismissed because of his often repetitive yet melodic hooks and his loud beats which often drum out his lyrics. Citing Kakai as proof, Hammer succeeded in making me take a listen to the song again, this time paying particular attention to his lyrics. Hammer was right. His “Mahama Paper’ is another attestation to Shatta Wale’s pen game. Shatta Wale is not the best lyricists out there but with songs such as ‘Kakai’, ‘Mahama Paper’ and his current tune ‘Ayoo’, he spreads thoughtful messages about him and the realities of life on tape.

Shatta Wale’s frequent assertion that he isn’t a ‘radio-made-me’ artiste holds true. It was the fans who made him who he is. The strategy was simple yet long. Between the years 2004 when he was performing under the moniker Bandana with ‘Mokoho’ getting respectable airplay right down to his 2012 breakthrough with ‘Dancehall King’, Shatta Wale was not only strategizing his next move towards stardom. He was cultivating a fan base through the release of songs for his small yet dedicated fans in and around his Korle Gonno (a suburb of Accra) enclave. A decade later, these fans transitioned with Shatta from their locale to dominating every musical space available.  For almost a decade, Shatta Wale had earned much support from his people and he has also paid them back with respect. His Shatta Movement, which should rebrand to Shatta Nation are passionate and resolute in their support of Shatta.

In all his interviews, he is quick to acknowledge his fans, citing them as the helium in his ever floating balloon. He has always shown them respect and has acted based on their prompting. The bond between himself and his fans is so strong that, in 2013, they ensured he won the VGMA Best Artiste. And when he fell out with the organizers, Charter House, his fans admonished him to stay out of the awards. I’m yet to hear him have any tiff with his fans.  For the dedication and passion they extend him, Shatta extends the same if not more respect to them. Unlike many of his compatriots who would ignore their fans, Shatta has a way of genuinely rubbing their ego through his songs, snapchat and Instagram videos as well as Facebook feeds. He doesn’t act like a celebrity. He comes across as an ordinary man; someone the fans see as one of them. An interesting fact is that, the demography of his fan base is not linear. He has all shades of people as fans; from high to middle class fans to the average person. A spectrum of fans only a few manage to rake during their career.

Shatta Wale’s rise also coincided with the rise of dancehall music, commercially speaking. Dancehall/Ragga music have had a cozy yet stuttering relationship within the Ghanaian music scene. The music scene was, thanks in part to Samini, opening up to our own home-grown dancehall/ragga music. By the time Shatta Wale’s ‘Dancehall King’ was released, the Ghanaian music market was ready to embrace dancehall music fully.

In the music industry and like any other industry, support is deliberately cultivated, nurtured and celebrated. That’s why it’s important for artistes not to disrespect their fans no matter what since the day the fans sense a slight condescension in an artiste’s relationship with them, they wilt with astonishing speed. The damage such action causes an artiste is far more than losing a six figure deal. Your charisma won’t save you. The number of hit records won’t be enough to get them back. And the art of respecting and placing fans before himself at a times is what Shatta Wale has mastered. And that has served him well thus far.

Shatta Wale knows that the day shit hits a fan, these fans who have been with him in the ‘wilderness’ through to the lights of superstardom would definitely remain fans no matter what. He, on the other hand is serving them what they need – music and love!

AKAN DROPPED A LOW-KEY CONTROL VERSE ON ‘EFFORTLESS’

 

akans

Since releasing his debut mixtape in 2015, Akan has seen his profile rise within the hip hop/hip life circles albeit a steady one. Songs by Akan hasn’t become a staple for mainstream radio yet but, he is building a dedicated fan base. First time listeners to his songs get enchanted by his lyricism and the content expressed in his music. Others become fans after watching his performances, which are filled with passion and energy.

His lyrical ability has earned him comparison to the legendary Obrafour (per his mastery and fluency in the Twi language). Others see Okomfo Kwadei and Okra in Akan. Whether Akan delivers a full 16 bars (in two verses) as on songs like Helebaba, Obiba J.K, Flow No (Konnichiwa freetsyle) or assumes the role of an okyeame on Poetra Asantewa’s ‘Vote for Me’ and ‘Freestyle 06’ with JaySo, Akan never disappoints.

If there’s one song Akan (formerly part of rap duo Azzholes along Billy Banger, now AYAT) showcased his lyrical abilities and declared his mission statement, it’s the Hammer (Last Two) produced collaborative song ‘Effortless’. According to Hammer, Akan wasn’t initially considered for the song that had Worlasi, Teephlow and Medikal. Hammer explains how Akan was brought on board:

Akan’s part was supposed to be another artiste. I had heard of him and posted his song about two months ago. People didn’t know I follow [him]. I was sure he could do it so I called him. I just told Akan that Teephlow, Medikal and Worlasi were on the song. None had heard what the other had done on the beat…

A very important decision by Hammer, of you ask me. Akan didn’t disappoint and his verse is the sparkling gem of the song.

On ‘Effortless’, Akan’s boastful talk is drenched in humility. He dramatizes his attributes like an Okomfo (fetish priest) exhibiting his magical skills at the durbar grounds. One hears him speak on how he’ll lead the way; how women and quest for riches are not his priorities; how he’ll ‘kill’ the fakes/other rappers. This is Akan with his own ‘Control’ verse. The talk is bold and fearless.

Below is a bar for bar breakdown of Akan’s verse on Effortless. I’m going to translate his words from Twi to English the best way I possibly can.

You’ve heard Teephlow’s flow and tasted Medikal’s tonic/medicine (here Akan references his two other colleagues on the song)

Now, watch what Kwabena Nkwantabisa is about to do (Kwabena is Akan’s name. Nkwantabisa is an appellation)

Hope you’ve heard Hammer’s handiwork. The beat has cleared your hearing (this suggest that Hammer’s beat is the best one will hear)

Akan, follow me cos I’m about to show you where the right path is.

Here I am, wildly spinning; kicking dust into your eyes whiles you bear witness that the path is me (Akan paints a picture of an Okomfo, whose trance-like displays often results in the surroundings becoming dust-filled).

My waist cloth is girded. My words are tough and biting (Akan is ready to fight)

I’m here to piss you off so I can shave off your chest hair into my armpit and leave you humbled (only a man who’s totally beaten can have his chest hair shaven and that’s what Akan is purporting to do to anyone who comes close)

Sold my soul for heavenly knowledge and wisdom, so luxuries of life and women can wait for now.

I’m carrying my nation. I’ve drawn much from my wisdom trough

My shoulders larger, I’m keeping focus cos I can’t move my neck (well-built men often have thick shoulder muscles which keeps their neck straight. That’s Akan’s posture in this line)

Shut my eyes, dropped a bomb on y’all. It’s about to get bloody leaving some of you breathless.

I’m in the lead, your views are blocked (you can’t see cos of the bomb smoke)

You’ve lost your ways. You’re now trapped in a ditch.

The way to heaven, you’ve missed.

Akan dropped a low-key Control verse on Effortless. A verse that is not ‘in your face’ but did send a message of his intention to all those who would dare step on his lane.

For those who are curious to know what makes AKAN highly regarded by a section of music fans, just be at Nubuke this Saturday 25th February, 2017 when he takes his turn on Artiste Concert.

Here’s the lyrics to Akan’s verse on ‘Effortless’

Ostwia 
Motii Flow ne flow Medikal ano aduro nsoa mo aka ahw3 // Afee mon hw3 nia kwabena nkwantabisa so b3yi atsr3 // 
S3 moati Hammer nsa no k3ts3 ma mo aso mu kwan atr3 // Akan mondi matsi bebia kwan da no meb3yi astr3 
Tie mistwa miho fr3d3 fr3d3 ato nfutro agu moani di mo adwin adi agro na mo ani tia moadi adansi3 s3 kwan no kwa Appiah abo awie // 
Mabo mabosor kuntan mas3m tswintswan miy3 ama wobo afu na ma tsr3 wobo nwin agu ma motoumu ma wobo adwo, adwobr3 // 
Maton mi kra midi agyi osro anigye ni adwini mu nyansa // Nti 3gudie ni mma agodie ni di3 ni nyinaa 3ntsw3n asa // 
Masoa mi m3n na ma dwin mu nkrado soa nyinaa maka ase // Ma hwri mi mmati na minkoa mikon na masi mitri ase // 
Mafra mo ani, mapiti topay3 moso
Mo mogya b3 hwri ma abuso 
Mo honmii riti ma 3nsi so oh 
Madi mo anim 
Ase mo anim 
Mo ayra mo kwan 
Mo ato amina mu nti 
Mo aka moanan mu 
Osro ahiman mu kwan mo ayra