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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00:01 – “Ci, Na she touch my Soul oo”

 

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

Hers did too…

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

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

That drop is sensational. Goodness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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credit:  @SteveMorrisM_

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

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

by Manny Obeng @MannyFBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are few of them:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yoyotinz Ventures into music video production

Yoyotinz, a cultural force when it comes to documenting, promoting and event organization in the Ghanaian art scene is branching out into music video production, direction and shoots.
Their latest they shot Ghanaian-German artiste, Marvin Brooks’ video. The director of the video is Selorm Jay, the creative director of Yoyotinz.

https://youtu.be/0s0QkHzghPM
This is not the first video directed by Selorm Jay and Yoyotinz. Under his FullisArt imprint, he directed Lyrical Wanzam’s ‘32’ video.

Here’s the video for Marvin Brooks’ song Focus On Me

twiiter @marvinbrooksii 

instagram @marvinbrooksmusic

facebook @marvinbrooksii

 

Throwback: Pat Thomas – Sika Y3 Mogya

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‘Let me remind you again, (that) money is not a beast as they proclaim, money makes a man, money is blood (life)’. 

The opening words on one of the most beautiful composed, well known highlife song of all time. ‘Sika Y3 Mogya” (which translate as money is blood) happens to be, arguably the biggest song by legendary highlife crooner Pat Thomas. For those born in the 80s and early 90s, the song was a soundtrack to their lives by virtue of it being the theme song of the then popular National Lotteries sponsored TV show. An apt song choice if you ask me.

“Sika Y3 Mogya” sounds like a response to the well-known mantra of ‘money being the root of all evil’. Pat Thomas challenges this notion by underscoring the point that, money isn’t evil. Rather, it is blood; it’s a livewire to man’s existence and sustenance. And that, all must strive to be financially comfortable.

He makes this very clear by highlighting the ‘magic’ that (a) bag of money conjures: good health, good relationship, respect, and finest things in life. He further points out a very interesting fact: when misfortune strikes in a family, all decisions and suggestions are put on hold till the opinion of the wealthiest family member is heard. This sad truth holds since as the Akan saying goes ‘for all that would be said, it takes money to do it all’.

 

The song’s title doubles as the album title of his six track LP.  Recorded in 1991 at the Oketeke Studios, the qualities of the song rise beyond the central theme of being rich as expressed by the ‘Golden Voice of Africa’, Pat Thomas. It’s your quintessential highlife sound: the unmistakable warmth of the Yaa Amponsah guitar rhythms (defining instrument in highlife), the seductive mellowness, the sparsely arranged instruments and the generous ‘dance time’ on the song.

Even though Pat Thomas used ‘blood’ as a metaphor in his song, the significance of blood in Akan culture can’t be overlooked. In the Akan concept of ‘Man’, three elements constitute the make of human beings (Nipa): the Spirit (sunsum), the Okra (soul) and mogya (blood). According to the Ghanaian philosopher Kwesi Wiredu, the blood, despite science pointing to it as essential in man’s survival (through the supply of oxygen and other essential nutrients to vital organs), is nothing but a family lineage determinant. In the Akan cultural system, kids inherit maternally and by custom belong to the woman’s family since the child inherits the mother’s blood. But, Pat Thomas, a Fante (an Akan) wasn’t referring to the significance of blood in the Akan composition of humans as stated earlier. Rather, his reference seems to draw from the scientific perspective where blood matters very much if you are to scrap it off any metaphorical reference.

“Sika y3 mogya/)nsh3 wo ho a na 3yare” (money is blood/ you feel sick when you don’t have it), he expresses his observations with such open candidness. Indeed money is life. Money is important. Money is essentially why we work hard. Money guarantees comfort. In short, money matters.

This Pat Thomas release is and shall remain such a classic song not only because it’s based a poignant statement of fact and exquisite production works. “Sika Y3 Mogya” is a sampler’s four course meal.

DJ K3V and Khadi present ‘Khake Project’

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”The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.” -Charles Baudelaire

Music and dance have gone hand in hand for ages and it is no wonder that DJ’s naturally gravitate to people who enjoy dancing.

The Khake (pronounced “cake”) Project represents the relationship between DJ’s and dancers that has existed over the centuries. DJ K3V in is undying mission to expose the Ghanaian commercial market to growing genres of music such as Afro House, EDM and Trap, connected with Khadi instantly when they worked together on a previous project.

Khadi, an energetic, artistic and vibrant dancer who expresses her artistry in various forms of dance, has managed to capture the imaginations of numerous Ghanaians who have now developed a taste for her form of art.

Together, the duo have embarked on a journey in which they plan to combine both their love of music and dance; with the aim to not only entertain viewers and listeners, but also to encourage them to try new things and not be shy to move their bodies freely to any type of music.

This first volume of The Khake Project features music from mainly the EDM sub-genre Moombahton, with a blend of Trap and Dancehall.

Subscribe to their YouTube Channel:

Khake Projects

Follow Khadi and DJ K3V on Twitter:

@Khadi_

@DJ_K3V

On InstaGram:

@khadi_

@fokn_dj

Video Review: Darkovibes – Tomorrow

It’s always a tricky situation for new artistes after breaking into the mainstream music scene. There is the pressure to prove their breakthrough isn’t a fluke (their new releases must be as hot as the one that won them attention). This pressure from such expectation could sink a new artist. 
But for Darkovibes, the pressure or expectations are not weighing on him. Following the release of his classic (yes I said it) single ‘Tomorrow’, the perioxide hair artiste has sustained his modest fame through features and respect number of performances. As @stingg_ of Harmattan Rain said in a tweet, is ‘unwise’ to invite Darkovibes to your gig since he’ll out-perform everyone.

Few days ago, he released his long-awaited video for the most notable song from his catalog: Tomorrow. The gorgeousness of ‘Tomorrow’ translate into it’s visuals. The video reflect the theme of the song- his lover being his buddy and confidant.
Babs Direction (the director) had Darkovibes and his lover on a date at a waterfall with them doing what lovers comfortable with each other do- the swim, the walks, hugs, ass grabbing. The visual, shot in black and white carries an excellently chromed tone (the outstanding thing about the video). The scenic view of the waterfall and the capture of the running water add significantly to the overall warmth of the video.

Was Darkovibes having a seizure or was feeling cold towards the end of the video as he laid in the water? (I know, acting but it’s kinda funny in a way).

Watch the video for Tomorrow below.