Ebony Tackles Domestic Violence on “Maame Hwe” Video

It’s the renowned Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei who said that ‘art can be used to change society’. The test of an artists worth is their ability to speak about or use their influence to cause societal change.

For many, Ebony’s new song and video ‘Maame Hwe’ may be a surprise for the simple fact that, she may be the last person to use her music to draw attention to such an important subject as domestic violence.

Ebony divides attention. Her adoption of a ‘bad girl’ image as an artistic brand seems to split opinions in this conservative society of ours.

Her costume, raunchy videos and highly sexualized lyrics have been a subject of debate over a couple of weeks leading to some men of God calling on her to dress decently or risk incurring God’s wrath. Some lawyers have suggested to the police to arrest her for indecent exposure.

To hear a song and video that drift far away from the ‘bad girl’ image of Ebony may cause of some of her critics to have a change of heart. Or, have a rethink of who she is and stands for.

‘Maame Hwe’ translates as ‘My Mother, Look’ (or see). It’s a Twi expression used to confirm an earlier concern raised or observation made by someone before it became manifest. On this song, Ebony echos the sentiments of an abused lady who rejected her mum’s advice.

One day you’ll know/ These are the words of my mother/ As I’m getting old/ Ebi now wey I dey remember…/ A young girl like me shouldn’t be caught with an old school fool – Ebony, “Maame Hwe”

The mum advised her daughter against marrying a man she thought had questionable character. The daughter, blinded by love, ignored this motherly advice and ended up marrying him. The outcome of this relationship: violent abuse.

In a country where little attention is given to issues of domestic violence, the figures available shows how prevalent this act is across the country. Research figures by the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre shows that, 28% of women are abused in relationships. (Their first sex experience was forced).

Globally, the figure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in their November, 2017 report reveal the following:

i. 35% of women (1 in 3) have experienced either physical or sexual intimate violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

ii. 30% of all women in relationships have suffered physical or sexual abuse but intimate partners.

iii. 38% of murders on women were by male intimate partners.

Some of the reasons contributing to the continuation of these abuses in marriages include the patriarchal establishment- which is predominant in our society, lack of education, poverty and more religious attachments, where the Christian and Islamic vows prohibit divorce.

The justifiable grounds for divorce notwithstanding, the advocates of these religions and family members would prevail on the victim (the woman) to stay in and pray for a miracle. The cause of some of these violence are often ascribed to the ‘work of the devil’ rather than acknowledging it as a character flaw.

In the lyrics of the song, Ebony reveals some of the character traits of the man in question: a drunk, drug abuser, a robber and gangster who takes to beating her

Now, e dey beat me every night and day/Maame Hwe/ Used to warn e but I didn’t wanna know

As gleaned from the video, all these traits- drinking, smoking, gambling- are excellently captured by the director, Prince Dovlo. The wife is seen getting smacked by her husband despite playing her part as wife- she cooks for him, which he refuses to eat; she cleans the house as a ‘submissive’ wife should.

One thing that this video aptly points out, and which is often conveniently overlooked is the fact that, being a submissive wife doesn’t guarantee you a ‘safe pass’ against abuse. That is, the argument posited by some that, some women are violently abused because they aren’t submissive women in marital relationships is moot and ridiculous.

And who could forget the rape scene in the video, especially the facial expression of the wife? Her face was as bland as one could imagine; an emotionless soul who has endured such despicable, exhaustive treatment that she has lost all the energy to fight her abuser (husband).

What ‘Maame Hwe’ has over her other songs is this: the lyrics are clear, educative and reflect a societal ill. These would open another window for people to realize the other side of this young female artist.

Often, the lyrics of her songs are overshadowed by her brazen display of her sexual self. That is, her lyrics are interpreted through the prism of her personality albeit, they promote women empowerment and the recognition and embracement of ones ‘femme-ness’. (Same fate befell archetype of sexual liberation, MzBel). In Ebony’s case, it’s like the wrong messenger carrying the right message to the public.

I hope the visual outlook projected by Ebony- her costume especially- would appease the many who have over these couple of weeks severely criticized her dressing. She definitely looked glamorous in that outfit; an African Goddess.

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Odunsi The Engine’s “In The Morning” Drips With 90s Delight

Watching the video of ‘In The Morning’, the new visuals from producer, singer/songwriter, Odunsi The Engine, I got transported back to the mid-90s, when the Ghanaian movie scene was taking shape.

The Kwame Dracula directed video seems to have taken a little inspiration from the 90s era, when African filmmakers were figuring out how to produce very quality pictures.

The video is an excursion into the mind of Odunsi after finding ‘love’ at a party. We see him wearing a despondent facial expression, sitting on the floor, one leg stretched out, and a bottle of drink by his side in the opening scene of the video.

‘In the Morning’ video is a party scene, where Odunsi and friends are seen having fun. Magnetized by a lovely lady, Odunsi begins to harbour wild imaginations. The vocalization of his intent is through glances and toothpaste smiles. In the end, the two meet in a room. We are transported back to Odunsi sitting on the floor on the next scene.

The video blends a retro feel-evidenced by the picture grading- with a modern aura. The scenes are fast paced; the beat carries a happy glow- the Lumidee ‘Never Leave Me’ drumline can’t be missed. To give the video an ‘old school’ feel, the director deliberately splashes statics and graphics reminiscent of old videos.

Kwame Dracula’s use of light stands out as well; bringing out the varying yet impressionable dark shades of skin of his characters. The colours and vibrant and lush, yet not blinding. And if I may ask, what’s this laid back, shy guy expressions of Odunsi in videos?

Recognized as one of the new voices from Nigeria pushing the new sound from Africa, Odunsi The Engine’s talent, first as a producer and a singer/songwriter. His debut EP TOOL captured the imagination of many. He continued to build on his new found acceptance by collaborating and producing for the like of Nonso Amadi, Tay Iwar.

Watch the video below

Edem takes us to church on ‘’Mighty Jesus’’

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In his 2015 speech after winning the VGMA ‘Best Video Award’ for ‘The One’, Edem appealed to all to support artists by patronizing their works. This, he indicated was one of the ways, artists like himself would release very good works-both audio and videos for fans to enjoy and sell Ghana music to the world. According to him, he spent about GHc 40,000 on that video. In short, money helps in creating excellent visuals for artists.

This is evident in his new video, ‘Mighty Jesus’. The song celebrates the goodness of God (or Jesus) in his life and career. Produced by Coptic, Edem drafts fellow rappers, EL and Jayso, who took turns to express the favour of God in their various endeavours over hard hitting hip hop beat.

The Video:

The video is directed by Pascal Aka and is set in a church. There is a choir, a pastor and violinists providing extra musical texture to the song. The video runs through a series of shots- dancers in a praying posture (heads bowed), choristers, a pastor, violinists and evil forces seeking to cause harm to Edem, Jayso and EL. We also see Edem (dressed in all white) and a view of a mountain battered by winds. The video is shot entirely in black and white.

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We get introduced to Jayso courtesy a panoramic view of him lying in a big drawn crucifix adorned at the edges with candles. There are scenes of him rapping while standing with the choir behind him. Interspersed are scenes of a ‘kayayie’ (head porter) and an ‘albino’ mother who’s being tormented by evil forces.  EL is shown in a room full of evil forces trying to attack him. On the white walls of the room are blood stains- he is killing them through the grace of God. Next comes Edem, looking all dapper in his white shirt and black trousers, sitting comfortably on what looks like a wooden throne (made of sticks and palm fronts).

The ‘Mighty Jesus’ video has some interesting scenes that advances the narrative including the albino mother who’s separated from the evil forces by a grace enclosure she’s in. That wall connotes the grace of God. The video marries Western (charismatic) Church culture with Traditional African Religious themes as seen in the Christian symbols of crucifix, candles, choirs and the preacher. The animated expressions of the pastor is flawlessly performed. The depiction of African themes or symbols via the body paintings, Northern warrior horn helmet and raffia wearing priestess all point to the contrast and commonalities existing between these religions although the Christian values are positively highlighted. At the end of the day, the evil forces all succumbed to one God, the Christian God.

Compared to his video for ‘The One’, ‘Mighty Jesus’ has less graphic works. Pascal Aka and Edem chose to keep it very simple (concept, colour grading) yet the story is clearly told and could be understood by anyone who may have no sense of what they may be saying. In sum, this gospel themed video is perfect for a gospel themed song as ‘Mighty Jesus’.

‘Mighty Jesus’ is the first single from his soon to be released album, ‘The African Answer’. Cop a copy and support the artists so they could continue to create the way we want them to.

MzVee scores high with her visually appealing video ‘Sing My Name’

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There are three things you can’t take for granted when you are rising to the top as an artist. First, the music you make. Two, a strong brand; and three, the visuals that accompany your videos must be absolutely appealing.

The third is what MzVee has done with her latest video for ‘Sing My Name’. The KP Selorm directed video is eye catching. The visuals are clean, the lightning is supremely beautiful and the colour grading is spotless.

That’s what money does, anyway. Her label, Lynx Entertainment is currently resting on the music charts through their other two artists- KiDi (with ”Odo”) and Kuami Eugene (”Angela”). This second Lynx Entertainment wave is an attempt at capturing the upper echelons of the music scene which they once dominated circa 2007 to 2012.

Back to MzVee’s video. The concept is simple: start your day in the gym and end up later in the club. MzVee performs plays a gym instructor taking her female clients through various exercise- stretches, dancing, biking and yoga. The scene looks more like a sorority girl club having a good time on a Saturday morning.

The colour grading, the use of light and the camera angles – both close-up and long shots- offer whoever watches an appreciative view of the work that went into the making of the video.

The video transitions from the gym to the club, where we are bombarded with a lot of neon lights and well crafted neon colour graphics. MzVee and her girls and Patoranking (featured on the song) have their bodies draped with graphics, similar to something from a Missy Elliott creative book. KP Selorm places black-and-white moments in-between the heavily neon video.

With artists, labels and managers becoming aware of the need to invest in visuals, since its one of the ways to capture the attention of people, both locally and outside of the artists locale, video directors are also crafting some amazing pieces of work to tell that story. Clearly, MzVee and her team recognizes this fact.

Worlasi, Ria Boss share visuals for ”Possible” and “lo-fi Experiment”

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Worlasi has finally released video for his positivity oozing, uplifting, go-conquer-the- world song ‘Possible’, which features America artist Meche Korrect.

Found on his 2015 highly acclaimed album “Nuse” (Strength Within), ‘Possible’ is a reminder to go out and achieve your dreams, the obstacles notwithstanding. The Bismark Aryee directed video doesn’t deviate from the crux of the song.

Featuring some of the world’s accomplished leaders -statesmen and women, legendary artists, iconic sportsmen and accomplished journalists, Bismark Aryee intersperses visuals of Worlasi and Meche along with archival footages to hand a good interpretation of the song.

The video opens with Azumah Nelson’s famous words after knocking out Briton pugilist Pat Cowdell in 1985. We see Mohammed Ali’s threats prior to beating then World Heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Other images include display the scenes of Michael Essien’s wonder goal against Arsenal, Ghana’s U-20 World Cup victory in 2009, Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan, Martha Bissa and Michael Jordan.

‘So, I’m doing it/I’m doing all that I can now/ I’m killing it/You feeling it/ I’ll be ok if I pass out/Don’t cry Ma/ Don’t cry Pa/ I did all that I could do’ – Worlasi #Possible

Homage is paid to ace musician Ghanaba, J.H Nketiah, Osibisa and Bob Marley. Others include Kofi Annan, Angelique Kidjo, Komla Dumor (RIP), Sarkodie, Lupita Nyongo, disabled artist, Abraham Atta. What can’t be missed is how the come-up stories of some of these icons are juxtaposed with their success stories.

Award winning illustrator, Bright Ackwerh is seen in between scenes painting an image of Mohammed Ali. Worlasi remind us of Mannie (his manager’s) words, ‘anything is possible’, so dream big and work towards it.

Ria Boss – lo-fi Experiment Vol. 1 (Videos)

Days after releasing her self produced sublime and stirring 3 track “lo-fi Experiment” EP, Ria Boss has videos out for all three tracks. The videos weave a story about Ria- from her childhood (Healer), going through the motions of disappointment (Juice + Lover Mantra) and new- found life and hope (Nirvana).

It’s not your typical fast paced or flashy video. The videos have a homemade, amateurish feel to it. And that makes it interesting. On ‘Healer’, we ‘meet’ the Bossman family courtesy the family photo album. We see Ria Boss, the baby being carried by her renowned mom, Ms. Anna Bossman (google her if you don’t know who she is), when she graduated college and we catch a glimpse of her granny (or was that her mom?) drawing up the family tree.

‘Juice + Love Mantra’ is a reminsicing moment about love gone sour. Sitting in a bathtub clutching on to a rose flower, a dejected Ria is seen plucking the flowers away. Towards the end, the negative reel is shown (a moment of death).

‘Nirvana’ is Ria Boss’ reborn. He’s full of smiles and basking in the glow of life somewhere in the streets of Paris. With placards of inscribed lyrics, she indulges herself in what makes her happy.

The eeriness, the floating cosmic world the vibe on “lo-fi Experiment Vol. 1” reflect is transmitted into the visuals of each video.

Juls & Burna Boy go anime on ‘Gwarn’

The DJ Juls train isn’t stopping anytime soon. In between curating playlist on iTunes and dropping mixes for Fader Magazine (Fader Mix), the Ghanaian -British born producer, whose infectious afrobeat sound changed the face of music across West Africa is still going strong .

Off the back of his latest single ‘Gwarn’ comes an exciting animated video. Featuring Nigerian dancehall act Burna Boy, Juls (who produced Burna Boy’s ‘Rock Your Body’) spreads very attractive Caribbean dancehall vibes over smooth afrobeat rhythms. The Gully Bop ‘pussy specialist’ chant at the beginning and Burna’s ‘You have to know everything your woman need before you lose her to a brother like me’ lyric lays bare the theme of ‘Gwarn’.

The POKA directed animated video equally measures up to the irresistible vibe that the song relays. The interesting scenes of the video (albeit subliminal in references) put the lyrics of the song in perspective as we see on the 0.46 seconds mark, where a girl runs her tongue over a Samurai sword.

The video also carries humorous moments as seen on the 1:33 – 1:35 second and 3:00 -3:03 second marks respectively.

From the boom box era of hiphop, the nice Naija flag backdrop (3:20 sec) to unmistakable animated images of Juls and Burna Boy, POKA created a short story about the lives of two friends, Juls ‘the cool dude’ and ‘badman’ Burna Boy.

Gwarn’ is the first single from ‘OJEKOO’, the EP to be released this December. Bet you saw the colourful grafitti.

Watch: Fuse ODG – ‘Boa Me’ feat Ed Sheeran & Mugeez

If there’s anything clear about the bromance between afro-pop act, Fuse ODG and British pop star Ed Sheeran, it’s one of unfiltered attraction. They both feel very comfortable around each other.

That bromance is evident on ‘Boa Me’, the latest video by Fuse ODG featuring Ed Sheeran and Mugeez (of R2Bees). The video offers a snapshot into the good time the two had while on a visit to Ghana- from enjoying the love from the street, visiting a cocoa farm and the well famous Kantamanto market.

Ed’s visit was indeed a jolly one as his recount of events of his time in Ghana during interviews suggest-from drinking the liquor Shocker to eating waakye. I bet to say Ed is one of the few celebs who really enjoyed the ‘Ghana life’ during his few weeks stay in the country.

The song, ‘Boa Me’ which translate as ‘Help Me’ has both artists calling on people to offer them a helping hand in their times of need. What’s indeed remarkable is hearing Ed Sheeran singing part of the song in Twi (one of the widely spoken languages in Ghana). It’s not the first time Ed Sheeran had sung in Twi. On his album “Divide”, he not only sang in Twi but named the last song on the album ‘Bebia Be Ye Yie’ a twi phrase meaning ‘Everything Shall Be Well’. (Somebody get Ed Sheeran a Ghana passport).

Although the song is a personal plea, the cry for help resonates with the sad experiences of many people across the world, especially those caught up in political upheavals- from the Royingha Moslems of Myammar, the immigrants trapped in Libya and the bombing going on in Yemen and Somalia.

‘Boa Me’ is another addition to the growing catalog of Fuse ODG, who has been shooting visually appealing, ‘go-happy’ videos, as seen in ‘No Daylight’, featuring people of various creed dancing in the streets of London.

Watch video here