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.

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Amaarae’s “Passionfruit Summers” is a Perfect Sonic Gift

The anticipation which surrounded the announcement of a new EP by Amaarae was, upon listening very worthwhile. Amaarae’s name began swirling on my twitter timeline months ago-videos of her performances accompanied various tweets.

At first, I thought it was one of those hype team efforts at building steam for an artist who may be just average (that’s uncommon though). But, I got baited, followed by a change of mind and heart when I watched one of her videos. That Voice. The falsetto voice is charming and luxurious. That was the gripper. Then shifting through her words, you realize her pen game is absolutely fantastic. That combination of talent in voice and writing is fully accentuated exposure on her latest project “Passionfruit Summers’’.

The six track EP is a well knitted, pleasuring experience that transports you into a place of pure serenity and joyous pain. “Passionfruit Summers” is an exercise of sonic exploration and a magical trip into a world of absolutely bliss. It’s a portrait of Amaarae: a confident, bold woman who knows what she wants and isn’t scared to face her feelings.

‘The shawty with the bald head’, as her twitter bio read, assembled some of the best minds and hands in the music front in Ghana to curate this EP. Rvdical, EDWVN, MikeMillz, Dex Kwasi dug deep into their sonic vault for this project and the outcome is one that should elicit an eternal smile across their faces. The EPs opener ‘Sundays’ uses an inviting bass guitar chords and percussion for this ‘don’t-stress-me’ tune.

The picturesque view she describes is one of a ‘good day with palm tree breeze’ with her ‘smoking purple and drinking’ is pleasurable experience. Bringing on board Fingers, helps bring the song ‘home’. What stands out is how their voices blend to perfection-whether singing together or throwing in ad-libs. Her voice slices through it effortlessly, like a knife through a butter cake. She sings those low notes with easy comfort.

The EP can be described as Amaarae’s parting of ‘ways with her fear over lost love and demonstrates an undeniable lust for sonic freedom’. These themes run throughout the six tracks. Sometimes, the songs sound like a yearning for a loved one; or stuck somewhere she doesn’t want to leave. Some of the songs also feel like confessional diary entries; a showcase of her love life. The theme is demonstrated profoundly on the sensually tinged ‘Catching A Wave’, where she sings about letting a lover go. Her opening words, ‘I think the time has come for me and you to let it go’ is uttered in a casual mode. But, there’s a sense of hurt in the lyrics that follow: ‘You changed the game I’ll not be the same, I’ll let you know’. The slow-tempo beat on which her words float serve as the perfect canvas on which she paints her pain; of wanting someone you can’t have.

The influence of songs from Ghana and Nigeria (on their respective artists) is evident on ‘Happy Mistakes’ where she does an interpolation of D’Banj’s classic ‘Oliver Twist’. ‘Happy Mistakes’, as much an oxymoron, has her crooning about her feelings towards a lover. The honesty in the lyrics, ‘sometimes, you treat me like a fool, I went crazy over you, you don’t have a clue’, is definitely proclaimed from a place of truth. The happiness that the slapping hi-hats in the first part evoke is stripped away in the second part.

As she indicated in her interview, these are real life experiences shared over minimal, kora string beats. The second part of this song slowly builds, rising with each thump of the kick. Here, she sounds like one coming to terms with the end of the relationship. The Usher ‘U Don’t Have To Call’ interpolation is the perfect, painless closure to a satisfying encounter.

Listening or hearing the story behind the making of a particular track adds a ton of beauty and also, helps you appreciate the artist’s creativity. As she disclosed in an interview with Kozie on Accra based YFM, they (she and her team of producers) had to go the extra mile to create the perfect product that is “Passionfruit Summers”.

This is how they came about creating the dreamy song “Hawaii”, as she shared on twitter

‘’It took me Rvdical, EDWVN and David Edem an entire day of mostly just talking about random stuff, chilling in my guest room, listening to Jerry Plange and mostly interrupting Rvdical while he was making the beat, EDWVN actually came up with the melodies first. He had been singing it all day so we drove to MikeMillz’s studio and talked for another two hours, watched Ryan Leslie’s Black Mozart film while Rvdical was finishing the beat. Rvdical finished, EDWVN hopped in the booth, killed it, gave me vim, hopped in right after. Boom’’.

‘Hawaii’, a 1 minute and 45 seconds song carries a whispery vibe. The beat and her singing rise contemporaneously, her voice sliding along the rising soundscape of the song. Her checklists what she’d do for her lover (I’ll give you all my time). The trap soul influence and sharp piano chords add to the ambience of the song, thus encapsulating with perfection the song’s title. On the title track of the EP, which happens to be the closing song, she enlists another incredibly gifted singer, Sutra and together steamed into the sunny summer season.

‘Passionfruit Summers’ is the perfect introduction of Amaarae to lovers of neo-soul/bluesy music, although she’s able to subtly embed few strands of trap and hip-hop influences. The EP is a trip down the clichéd memory lane-staying with the golden moments and trying to purge yourself of the sour moments.

The decision to keep it at just six tracks is perfect- it doesn’t get boring. Her falsetto and her ability to hit those low notes effortlessly reminds me of Solange on her Grammy nominated album, ‘’Seat At The Table’’.

Then again, I dare ask: Who’s Amaarae? A cross between the sublime sultriness of Jhene Aiko and a girl next door Solange? Or, she’s AMAARAE! Make your decision after listening to ‘Passionfruit Summers’ here. https://soundcloud.com/amaarae/sets/passionfruit-summers

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.

King Promise – Selfish

There’s something worth pointing out about this video. Was the ‘accident scene’ really necessary? Perhaps it was. Just that, it wasn’t really done well. It looked super fictitious. The director could have created a good scene to capture that bit of the story than what we saw.

King Promise is working. A few weeks after releasing the audio of this love-tinged song ‘Selfish’, the video is out. A good video concept that highlights the beauty of a love relationship: trips to the cinema, the long night drives, sharing food, warm cuddles, shopping trips and the inescapable, sometimes volatile arguments.

King Promise and his lover seem very comfortable with each other as the video show. Of course, they are in love. The love between them seem all genuine. Then.. Tragedy hit. She is knocked by a car. She passes on. We see King Promise dropping a flower in her grave. The lover he promised to be selfish about has been snatched crudely from him.

So, the video is King Promise in a flashback mode, reminiscing about her and the good times the two shared. Interesting, the story isn’t as obvious from the start. The colour grade of the video was as colourful as it should be. Elsewhere, a video director could have shot some of the scenes in black and white for flashback effects.

Need to say, King Promise is working hard to be a top prospect in this competitive music scene. He’s trying to be ahead of the pack. And his wave is catching on albeit gradually. ‘Selfish’ is another good time to help propel him to his desired destination. Expect the song to be a ‘couple first dance’ tune at weddings.

Year 2016 in Retrospect: Poetry in Ghana

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So, a couple of months ago, I asked writer and poet O’Zionn to share with me his best 2016 moments in the Ghana Poetry and Spoken word scene. In this post, he list a few under various categories. Here is his list.


It’s been just a few years since I actively joined the burgeoning poetry scene in Ghana. And it’s been one swing of a ride! A lot of hard work has been effected, creativity expended and challenges have either been surmounted or have been too high to scale.

This year hasn’t been any different as we’ve probably witnessed progress in various aspects of this art form. From purely poetry events and/or projects to the ones that are a blend of other art forms but have featured poetry significantly.

From SASA’s “Roots”, January 2nd to Jazz & Qoke on December 30th. Well, you decide. Nevertheless, there’s been so much that has happened and here are some of the highlights of the year for me.

Audios (Singles)

“Empty Konko” —Laud De Poet

“My CV of Sin” — Rhymesonny

“Love Yourself”— Poetra Asantewa

“Box Mentality” — Ian and Elidior the Poet

Four 21” — Poetyk Prynx ft. Ugene Kay and

For 3 a.m.” Kwaku Quansah ft. Euphoria

Some Other Place” — Mutombo Da Poet

IWITP” — Akotowaa ft. Meffstone

Dear Future Wife” — Koo Kumi

Vote for Me” — Poetra Asantewa ft. Akan

Femur” — Mutombo Da Poet

Body of Work (Albums/EPs)

Vocal Portraits 3 — Compiled by Kwame Write

“First of All” —Throneroom Perspectives

Solitaire EP — Akotowaa (Listening Session and Project Launch)

Back to Basics —Wonderword (Listening Session)

Videos

“Anti-Indoctrination” — Akotowaa

“Love Yourself” — Poetra Asantewa

“Untitled Ones” — Koo Kumi

Artists

Poetra Asantewa

•Conversations with Poetra

•One Beat Tour in the United States of America

•Lagos Poetry Festival

•Drum Roll, Please

Rhymesonny

•Lyrical Dexterity

•Lagos Poetry Festival

•Rhymesonny’s Show Tours

3. Hondred Percent

  • One on One with

Organisations

Kpodola

•Spoken Word Videos

•Kpodola Challenge

MiCheck
•In the process of establishing a National Poetry Association

•Spirited Poetry at Chale Street Arts Festival 2016

Brunch Over Books
•Meet-up with Poets

Workshops

•Gird Writing Camp 2016; Poetry Workshop

•Kpodola 10 Poetry Workshop

Shows

•The Write Experience [Inkfluent]

•See Calendar

•Keep Digging [SASA]

•Unbridled Tongues

•Beneath the Poetry Baobab with Prof. Lade Wosornu

•UNESCO World Poetry Day

•Public Book Reading: According to Sources [Writers Project of Ghana]

•Book Launch: Haiku Rhapsodies by Celestine Nudanu

•Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry Festival — Ghana 2016

•Let’s Write the Future [Poetic Justice Society & Creative Spaces GH]

•Teen Slam [Inkfluent & Mode Conceptz]

•Made in Ghana, 2nd edition

•JiVe

•Verbal Ink

•Poetry Nites with the Rainmakers [March to December]

•Chaskele

•Writers Project’s Public Book Reading with Patron Henekou

•Nkabom Literary Festival [Inkfluent]

•Book Launch: Afriku by Adjei Agyei Baah

•Ehalakasa Festival

•Ehalakasa Slam 2016

There’s quite a lot more than this which happened. I believe there are several things that I must’ve missed out on but that doesn’t mean they’ve been absolutely left out.
I look forward to 2017 and what it has timed up for poetry in Ghana.

O’Zionn (Daniel Appiah) is the 2013 Winner of Ghana Poetry Prize and has recently published Seemingly Untitled-An Anthology available on Amazon.com. Follow him on twitter @Ozionn

PAN FÊTE 2017 starts Today! – Loc. Galaxy Int’l School

Over the years, we have seen a couple of festivals hosted in the country yet, just a few are centered on the roots of Ghanaian culture. However, preserving great aspects of our culture can be done effortlessly with a few days dedicated to it.

What then is been done about this?

Here’s one fun solution – PAN FÊTE 2017!! PAN FÊTE is an annual multi-disciplinary arts and cultural festival which brings together local and international acts from the diaspora. The festival would be divided into three main parts, with the first two focusing on our future generation; the kids.

An educational workshop and a funfair for school children would be breaking the ice for la Pan Fête. What can be better than having an impactful session for our children? An exciting day with fun packed activities has been scheduled for the kid’s right at the Galaxy International School.

The funfair will feature the steel Pan Children prodigy ‘the pan twins’ also of the Roadblock Steel Orchestra from Trinidad and Tobago.

Parents and their wards will be given the platform to network and enjoy steel pan music as well as local indigenous Ghanaian music. There will be other side attractions so all parents should make it a must to get tickets for the funfair!

You had your kyekyekule and kiddiefest memories, how about you have your kids experience some of the best moments you had growing up? Obviously, this would come with the essential Ghanaian culture and a tad bit of the Diasporas.

What does the Pan Fête Night offer?

It would simply be filled with exciting performances of Soca, Calypso as well as indigenous Ghanaian music by Roadblock Steel Orchestra. It will be a night of poetry, soul and Jazz.

Not affiliated to Yfm but it is absolutely a good mix for the young and young at heart.

Get your tickets for 25ghc at the gate!

Concert Review: M3nsa thrilled at ‘Accra Hip Hop Festival’

One can easily tell an experienced artist from an amateur by how they carry themselves on stage when performing. Their stage movement, sequencing of songs and overall act- ability to find balance between performance and audience interaction. This divide becomes more apparent when they are performing with a live band.

These were on display last night when rapper, producer, singer, M3nsa headlined the ‘Accra Hip Hop Festival’ at Alliance Francaise, Accra.

With his four man band- a drummer, two guitarists and a keyboardist- M3nsa, known also as one half of the FOKN Bois (with Wanlov) and Red Red (with DJ ELO), proved once again that, he isn’t only a great musician, but a performer who can sell an experience.

Scheduled to begin at 8 PM, the show kicked off half an hour late; a situation Wanlov, who was the MC for the evening, humorously ascribed to the massive traffic that engulfed the city during the visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron.

It was sound check when I got to the Alliance Francaise a little after 8PM. The band and the sound man where working on the sound frequency and quality. When all was set, M3nsa joined the band on stage for mic check.

As a curtain raiser, M3nsa returned back on stage to begin the show. Wanlov (MC for the event) introduced three artists who took turns to rap on fresh made M3nsa beats. First act was 7:30, a 17 year old rapper who won a rap competition the FOKN Bois had organized three years ago. Now under the care of Wanlov, he earned his name after scoring 7 out of 30 in a French exams.

Hip-hop act, Lykay performed a series of verses over beats by M3nsa. His composure and confidence on stage was incredible. Sister Deborah came next to perform the famous ‘Ghana Jollof’ track. Wanlov took over and rhymed out lyrics of ‘Super Chompia’, off his debut ”Green Card” album.

When M3nsa came back on stage to perform his set with his band, The Light Off, the sizeable crowd were ready to be thrilled. In his ash T-shirt over a coffee dark khaki pants and black sneakers, he wasted no time in adding to the positive energy swirling among the audience .

Most of the songs performed were from his album, ”No. 1 Mango Street” as well as singles from the DJ Elo collaborative ‘Red Red’ album. ‘Anaa’ set the tone for what was to come. ‘Fante Love Song’, ‘How Far’, and ‘Kelewele Pimping’ got the crowd singing aong with gusto. So impressed was he with the crowd during the performance of Fante Love Song that he shared his surprise with ‘I love the GH boys romantic style’

‘Gimme Pinch’ got people playfully pinching each other as the song demanded. M3nsa rolled back the years to the excitement of fans by performing the classic ‘If You Don’t Know’.

A hilarious conversation ensued between M3nsa and Wanlov during the performance of ‘Gimme Pinch’- they both showed what the phrase could mean (Pin chow (noodles) and Pee In Chow all sound like Gimme Pinch o but mean different things).

The throwback set continued with the performance of VIP’s ‘Ahomka Wo Mu’ and the surprise appearance of Reggie Rockstone, who together with M3nsa (who as produced for Regg in his younger years) performed including ‘Men Sesa Da’ and ‘Sweetie Sweetie’.

The curtain finally came down (so we thought) after the performance of ‘Adwuma’ (Work). The crowd who had gathered in front of the stage matched the energy behind the performance. So thrilled was one of the guitarist that, he forgot to strum a solo section when M3nsa signalled.

A.I, who was scheduled to perform earlier showed up after M3nsa’s set, but got the audience to stay for the ‘after party’. He got the crowd to sing and dance along to his set of songs like ‘Grind’, ‘Burn Fat’, ‘Paper’, ‘Moving On’, ‘Marry Jane’ and ‘Anger Management’. Even though he didn’t perform with a band, he didn’t mime either. He sang over instrumentals of his songs.

The event didn’t attract a full house. There were a lot of empty pews at the concert venue. The reasons for that was obvious: the event wasn’t promoted that much and again, there were a lot of events in the city that evening.

The size of crowd, however provided an intimacy that ‘filled to rafters’ events often don’t offer. Also, the sound was great and the performances were well sequenced and coveted no dull moment.

As M3nsa indicated at the end of his satisfying performance, he was the only act (from FOKN Bois) out that night. And he held his own. Imagine the two of them on December 9th at the ‘FOKN Party’. Be prepared.

Songs Performed by M3nsa

Anaa

If You Don’t Know

Fante Love Song

Kelewele Pimping

No One Knows Tomorrow

Gimmie Pinch,

How Far,

Show Me How

VIPs Ahomka Would Mu,

Mensesa Da & Agoo (with Reggie Rockstone)

Adwuma