Video: M.anifest Loves Azumah Nelson

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Watch ”Azumah Nelson Flow” video below

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jayso Is Not In A Good Mood on 0106 EP (Vol. 3)

Nobody does it the way Jayso does it lately. This may sound provocative but for many rap fans, hip hop within the Ghanaian music space has taken a two step down the ladder. Some once upon a time true hip hop rappers have hanged their hip hop garbs and in exchange, worn an resplendent afro pop/rap outfit. It’s not a bad thing considering afro pop is now the profitable genre.

But Jayso has stuck to his guns, holding dear the tenets of hip hop: from beats to rap schemes. For someone who founded Skillions- arguably the foremost hip hop collective around the year 2000s- Jayso has found a way of carrying that blazing torch aloft.

On his annual birthday EP to fans- 0106 EP (Vol. 3)- the rapper, singer, producer, songwriter isn’t out there to play it safe. Jayso has burning issues to air out. And on the “Intro”, he makes this intentions clear, rapping ‘took a break after Highest, so the vipers and pythons here, brought a lawn mower to cut the grass’ over a heavy thumping fontomfrom drum beat courtesy Epidemix. (Jayso executive produced Sarkodie’s last album, Highest hence the mention).

For many, his inherent shots at fellow rapper and one- time friend M.anifest might come as shocking. (One-time friend judging by the content of the songs). Jayso comes across mostly as the guy who would rather chuckle at you than fight you. But that veneer seem to have worn-off on the fiery “Barfest” where he took M.anifest on, questioning his friendship (y’all ain’t slick with the underrated talk, you’ll miss me with your aim) , his writing and rapping skills (you ain’t got skills this intense boy, I’m a notepad meet scheming pen boy) and taking a dig at his godMC moniker (listen my man, you be god in your pocket, we no dey bow down to idols..).

“Barfest” is the extended version of Jayso’s truth with M.anifest. On “Yes Indeed”, Jayso touches on some truths: recording M.anifest’s ‘biggest’ album of his career (as he describes it); and imaging ‘manifest stressing’ him; and working better than your legacy’.

The genesis of this beef began in 2016 during the Sarkodie and M.anifest mêlée, where Jayso got himself caught up in the cross fire. Being friends with both artists and M.anifest coming after Sark off “Bossy”, a song Jayso produced was something Jayso found repugnant.

In his quest to set records straight, he released ‘Preach’ on which he questioned M.anifest’s god-like inference: You not a real king if you claim that you are/And you are a false prophet if you claim you’re the god’.

The 6 track EP covers other themes like love on Touch Down featuring Myx Quest and Jai Amore. Over soulful beat, he’s heard assuring his lover how ‘as soon as I touch down, I’m coming straight to you’. Need to state that, I love it when Jayso raps over soulful beats. The feel ‘Touch Down’ provokes is similar to “Say You Love Me” off his debut album, “Making Tasha Proud”.

For the critics who may question his rights to attack a fellow colleague, Jayso lays his résumé outside of even music. ‘Stay Woke’ has him re-echoing the importance of investing in once craft and how his ‘business mindset like Jewish’ has led to him build something of value: three business ventures- Skillions Studio/Label, 6miludo (a video house) and 3rdCD. He further speaks about 3rdCD on Books (Books In Effect) featured ‘3rdCD’ (Tunnel Vision). Success doesn’t come by accident and that is explored on ‘Bola Ray’ featuring Copta and King Joey.

To his critics, his latest hit at M.anifest is unnecessary considering the two protagonists in the whole affair have moved on with their lives. Although a fair criticism, this responses might have been instigated by the ‘sneak disses’ he alleges comes from M.anifest.

A birthday tape that should be more of a celebratory affair has taken a very fiery tone with a potential conversation about beefs between artists. As they say, when the frog becomes overly saturated with water, it dies. Jayso seems to have had enough.

Kuvie Serves Excitement; Projects New Voices on ”Gruvie”


When Kuvie first earned his breakthrough off the back of “Awo’a”, a song he produced for rapper Pappy Kojo, not only did he score a hit song, he also caused a seismic shift within the game. The shift eventually fed into the new afrobeats/pop sound or wave that was earning attention courtesy the good works of fellow Ghanaian producer Juls.

The fashionable bombastic, flashy, bass heavy productions gave way to minimalistic overtures which weren’t only scintillating and soothing in same measure, but also reflected a new paradigm within the music scene courtesy the implantation of traditional Ghanaian rhythms over western hip hop beats.

Following his quick ascent on the ‘best producer’ list, Kuvie has finally debuted a full length, 10-track- and a bonus song- EP ‘’Gruvie’’. The EP stamps deeply his unmistakable signature sound of skeletal, riveting rhythmic grooves that pays homage to his Ghanaian/Ewe roots.

“Gruvie” is an excitement booster; an EP carefully curated to offer the listener a thrilling moment. This is strongly showcased by the song sequencing, the simple, catchy and sing-along lyrics and the danceable beats that saturate the album.

Assembling artists from within his inner circles and those he has established working relationships with, Kuvie leverages on infectious melody and excellent grooves on ‘Gruvie’. Another strength of the EP is the pairing of artists on songs: each artist brings on a seminal feel that adds panache to the overall output.

Take for instance the mid-tempo track, “Energy”, where B4Bonah and RJZ display varying degree of energy (pun intended) on the song. Whereas B4Bonah’s ‘aggressive’ tone filter across the first half of the song, RJZ does spread a calm and soulful feel on the song. Same goes for “Popping” where Odartei, who received high praise from Kuvie for his maturity across the years at the album listening session, joins Nigerian crooner Odunsi and Darkovibes to serenade on this cheery jam.

Being a good producer is being able to put a thumb on what the new musical trends are; not to replicate it but put your own spin on it. For Kuvie, “Euphoria” is one of those tunes. “Euphoria” is unmistakably afro house music handed a Ghanaian outlook. An in-love Zepora describes the cocoon she finds herself under: ‘you make me get the feels with chills down my spine’. This isn’t the first time Kuvie and Zepora have worked together. In February 2017, the two, along with Darkovibes released the impressionable single “Deep” (Into You), which also carried afro house inflections.

The trap sentiments that has become ubiquitous with LaMeme Gang is present on ‘Gruvie’ as evidenced by “Sheen”, an obvious hit song from the EP. Featuring $pacely and KwakuBS (from LaMeme Gang), Kuvie lays a mid-tempo beat adorned by sublime keys and synths on which the two acts to paint a picture about strive and success. Kuvie’s production sounds like something from Neptunes-era playbook.

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Closing the EP is “What U Need” featuring Tinuke, who brings on board her stellar rapping skills. For those who felt let down by her single “Ayalolo” (also produced by Kuvie), where she traded rapping for singing, “What U Need” is adequate compensation.

By the time the tape folds after a little over 30 minutes, Kuvie’s intentions become clear: “Gruvie” is an excitement booster; an EP carefully curated to offer the listener a thrilling moment. This is strongly showcased by the song sequencing, the simple, catchy and sing-along lyrics and the danceable beats that saturate the album. Talking about beats, the minor elements that bubble beneath is more delightful than the ‘big’ beats that surround the music. “Gruvie” is also Kuvie’s way of showcasing of ‘new’ voices like Kobla Jnr, Hvlfman and Bortey Music whose tune “Fire” (Edzo) is one of the standout tracks off the EP to (a) new audience.

Only disappointment is that, a song like “Don’t Stop the Music” which features Kwesi Arthur, B4Bonah and $pacely could have been the big record off the tape considering the stature of the guys on the song rather than the ‘ode to Kuvie’ it project. Also, the King Promise assisted ‘Too Much Love’ scores low among the tunes we’ve heard him perform in recent times.

What Kuvie has achieved with ‘Gruvie’ is to present to the listener a full body of work that could be enjoyed on the go and a display of the various strands that makes him one of the best young influential producers in the country.

Gruvie is avaliable on aftown.com

Also on other streaming platforms 

Video: Worlasi Replaces Jackie Chan as the New Drunken Master in “BoozeHigh” Video

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How far and hard are you willing to go to accomplish a dream? For, Worlasi he will go the full hog; even if he needs to risk his own life to realize his ambitions. This statement is evidently showcased in his new video for ‘’’’.

The POKA produced animation shows the afro-fusionist singer/rapper, Worlasi taking down every obstacle on his way to his greatness. The video cast him as a sword wielding, black samurai, who had to, literally cut to size a band of men, a giant and a floating shaolin monk on his way to a castle that held a secret treasure: a golden microphone.

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The three-minutes-and-twenty-one second video begins with a red bandana wearing Worlasi looking sternly at something menacing ahead of him. Behind him is a guitar wielding, fedora wearing man reclined at the foot of a tree (Juls). With strong winds blowing and danger ahead of him, Worlasi takes a sip from a small gourd strapped to his waist. This scene is indicative of the 1978 Hong Kong martial art comedy movie, ‘’Drunken Master’’ starring Jackie Chan.

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A band of warriors confront Worlasi, who dismembers them with a swing of his sword. His next obstacle is a huge monstrous looking giant. And like the storied David and Goliath scene makes a meal out of him by first chopping off his arm, before he decapitated him.  His final victim is a levitating kungfu master, guarding the gates of a treasured castle. Worlasi’s initial attack on his adversary results in the breaking of his sword. A dazed Worlasi is picked up by the guitar playing man (who happens to be song producer Juls). The kung fu master is finally defeated by the deafening sounds from Juls’ kologo (traditional guitar).

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With the golden mic in his hand, a triumphant Worlasi is confronted by a fourth adversary: a female Ninja. With no sword in hand and an attack on him, what would a smitten Worlasi do?

What POKA and Worlasi have done is to demonstrate how self-belief and zeal could fire one towards success. But, a bit of help from others is always an extra motivation. Telling the story through Chinese martial arts adds a layer of entertainment to the whole vibe surrounding the song ‘’BoozeHigh’’

Watch video below

Akan’s ME SIKA ADURO Video – A Short Analysis

Akan released a music video to Me Sika Aduro, and it’s phenomenal.


If there was any video that needed to be created post-release of Akan’s classic album – Onipa Akoma it was most definitely Me Sika Aduro. And yes, it comes with a number of good reasons. Some you may have missed.

Me Sika Aduro is the ‘pop’ tune off the album; it’s message is a true reflection of the wishes of every person; and the lyrical abilities of Akan is at it’s true best.

The video directed by Yaw Skyface, portrays all the sub-themes of the song: love for money, living the good life, and the consequences that comes with being rich. These are deliberately delivered in four phases. Watching the video feels like watching an enactment of a sold out stage play.

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The Me Sika Aduro Video Concept

The video opens with a mid-short of a man walking towards a derelict building. We don’t get to see his face; only his legs are shown. Akan is introduced while strapped in a chair and clad in a red cloth.

The room setting is sparse, and badly lit- except for the natural light that descended on the two characters. Evidently, the scene depicts Akan undergoing the ritual to become rich.

It then transitions to the next phase where a now successful Akan is seen reaping from his various ‘businesses‘. Follow up scenes have him partying with women as he lays in a sombre mood: the realization that money doesn’t guarantee happiness.

“Me Sika Aduro” video solidly confirms the apparent truth that money is good, but riches from a bad place isn’t a guarantor of happiness. It feeds into the all is vanity trope.

This is masterfully depicted under the following phases: Ak)n) (List or wishes where Akan undergoes the ritual ceremony); Tumi (Power confirms the notion of money beget power and respect); Ahwease (Downfall, the money and power coupled with all the pains he had to endure to be rich could save him in the end).

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Majority of the scenes of the video is cast in bloody red. This isn’t out of place since the whole narrative of ‘Me Sika Aduro” is on the quest for riches through money rituals (blood money) and red signifies that.

The Abusua Tintin Skit

In the course of the song, Akan infuses a skit of “Abusua Tintin”, a song that portrays the richness and depth of the Akan culture.

“Abusua Tintin” emphasizes the misconception about money pervasive in our society and the regular misleading actions that follows. The “Abusua Tintin” skit feels like an mboguo (a different story that advances the story/ feeds into the bigger narrative being told) to advance the narrative on “Me Sika Aduro”.

What Akan has done with “Me Sika Aduro” is to offer a visual representation of his message on the song, especially for those who may not be able to grasp the ‘elective’ Twi he speaks on the song: that every decision one makes has repercussions and sometimes could be deadly.

Watch “Me Sika Aduro” video here:


Also, watch our Interview with Akan on #DaCNVO as he speaks about his Akumamu nsemsem Tour, Getting Started in Rap, Influence of his Grand-father and Family on his music, breaks down his album,Onipa Akoma according to his realities and so much more:

Video: Watch Shatta Wale’s Spaghetti Western Inspired ‘Gringo’ Video

It’s uncommon to see artists turn to movies for inspiration for their music and videos. Together with their video directors, they succeed in creating visuals that are not only cinematic but stunning to watch.

Dancehall artist, Shatta Wale is the latest to go this route for his video ‘Gringo’. Directed by Sesan, ‘Gringo’ is shot in Texas, US and deviates from the usual Shatta Wale videos.

“Gringo” carries a Spaghetti Western theme, with Shatta Wale playing the protagonist who came to end the iron fist rule of the Marshall of a town, obviously a Southern state during the slave era. This is very important to note for its reverse white ‘saviour’ narrative with a black one.

The Video:

The director used a narrator to advance the 7 minute plot, providing context for what was to unfold. The rural town is predominantly a white settlement with countable blacks. The setting is more 19th century deep American South. We are immediately introduced to an eye patch wearing man who ‘owns’ the city. With his entourage, they made a stop at a bar. Snake Eye, as he’s called, came with a Jasmine, lovely lady of mixed coloured heritage; obviously a house nigga girl.

El Shatta is shown riding on the back of his horse into town. The expression of the predominantly white town folks were one of bewilderment. They had never seen a fashionable (he wore linen), confident blackman riding a horse.

Enchanted by Jasmine, El Shatta walked into the bar wirh here, provoking a fight after confronted by Snake Eye. Ultimately, scores had to be settled through a gun fight in full view of the townsfolk. The prize: the lovely Jasmine.

After taking a draw from his beer (handed to him Jasmine, which could have been spiked) and readied himself to take aim, El Shatta dropped four shots into him. The saviour is finally in town.

References:

The setting of the video-era specific- isn’t in doubt. The environment, the cowboy apparels- boots, clothes, horses, guns, are enough proof of 19th century America.

Some of the scenes in “Gringo” seem to have been influenced by the Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Django Unchained” and “Magnificent Seven” directed by Antoine Fuqua.

In both Spaghetti Western flicks, we see how shocked the whites felt seeing a black man (stranger) stroll into their town on horseback. First, we saw that in Django Unchained when Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and Django (Jamie Foxx) visited a town on horse back. Same with Denzel Washington’s “Magnificent Seven”.

Horses were ridden by free black slaves and high ranking whites in society, so to see these black ‘nobodys’ on horseback was a huge spectacle. And similar to today’s Westerns, the black men usually achieve their glory. Same was depicted when El Shatta strolled into one town, earning those legitimate stares of shock.

Another movie which might have inspired the fight scene is “A Million Ways To Die In The West”. In the movie, Seth MacFarlane (the butt of joke of his town) was challenged to a gun fight with Liam Neeson (the fearful bandit) after Liam discovered Seth was cheating with his wife (Charlize Theron). Seth became the hero after killing Liam using the latter’s own strategy sold to him by the bandit’s wife.

In “Gringo”, same gun fight scene was re-enacted. El Shatta proved himself as the better gunslinger by taking the shot first. The stranger who rode into town saved these townsfolk from the capriciousness of this eye patch wearing bandit.

According to @jakuuire, ‘Gringo’ draws similarities to Mel Brook’s comedic movie ‘Blazing Saddle’. The 1974 movie had a black sherrif appointed to protect the inhabitants of a predominantly white town who initially were hostile to him.

The Song

If there’s anything Shatta Wale wanted to emphasize, it’s the fact that he can perform real dancehall music. For his critics, his self acclaimed dancehall king tag fall short of the known Jamaican dancehall music. To establish his claim as a dancehall artist, Shatta Wale brought real dancehall feel to “Gringo”.

Not only is he trying to lay this argument to bed, Shatta Wale is also paying homage to one of the genres respected acts, Vybz Kartel. From the riddim beat, to the cadences in his flows, you need not be told it drawn from Vybz Kartel.

‘Gringo’ is one of Shatta Wale’s best videos to date, in terms of continuity, concept and overall narrative. The video of the song could be watched and understood by people who might not even comprehend what Shatta is saying. Clearly, it’s money well spent.