Let me just say, first of all, that  ‘jorley’  is the real ‘bae’. It always has been, and always will be the real ‘bae’. We will beat around the bush often, and jump unto a new slang when it comes around.

We will say ‘bae’ or ‘boo’ or ‘boo boo’, or many such words which I no necessarily dey barb  (maybe I’m just too old-fashioned). Yet, I do believe that we all say ‘jorley’ at heart…at least we think it, and only translate it to ‘bae’ or ‘boo’ when it rises up to our lips, walaahi.

As for jorley deɛ, ɛyɛ. It’s  the one key word our nananom have used to capture the essence of  bae-ism, also one of the words from before the 1900s which is still here with us, thankfully. We might have had to tweak the spelling a teeny bit, you know, as our smartphones are needlessly cautious in offering us such letters as “ɔ” or “ɛ” yet… but the meaning has not necessarily been adulterated yet; not much has been lost in translation.

The latest song on which the sultry Efya features Sarkodie, is titled ‘Jorley’, and in my opinion, it’s the modern Ghanaian love song.

Sarkodie
Sarkodie

Jorley  ( the word), which might be as old as the Ga language itself, and which most likely gained traction with the E.T Mensah era of  highlife, refers to to that special someone, whether male or female. It might have held negative connotation from back in the day though…to mean someone who hasn’t necessarily been approved by your family, but whom you’re defiant is ‘the one’ and with whom you pick undergee moves with. Anyway, over several decades, the word has found its way into the speech of young lovers and musicians in general, especially from our shores, describing the abranteɛ, or that coy mistress who makes them happiest.

Also, exaggerations and strange promises are usually close by when the word  ‘jorley’ is mentioned. Among Efya’s first words on her single, Jorley, which is such a love song, are as follows:

This love
Never ever seen it quite like this love
I try to understand this love
But again and again
I can’t complain
Loving me insane

Eish! These words are simply unbelievable, nonsense even…till one falls in love –then suddenly, they become so true and make so much sense. Nearly every song made these days sets out to be a love song, but ends up becoming something else; soliloquies of carnal conquest, a flaunting of vocal prowess and materialism, or outright lust at the soft face, long nails,  firm breasts and round buttocks. But a love song is what Jorley is…all it is, really. Efya and Sarkodie set out to make a  good old love song with no additives, and they achieved just that. In Jorley, the smell and spirit of first love are finally interpreted by someone (successfully), and we are grateful.

The bridge:

ibi the things that you do
(the things wey I do)
and I’m loving it too
and it’s making me want you more
(see ibi the things wey I do wey dey make you want me the more)
there’s no one but you
(naa no one but me)
hwɛ manim ma menhu sɛ mehu wo na me feeli more

(hwɛ manim ma mehu wo na mehu wo aa na me feeli more)

Bloody lovers!

Over the years, Sarkodie and Efya have become quite the music couple, because whenever those two have been on a song together, they have exuded an emotional vulnerability — once in a while, a remorse at life, but most times, they have conversed about ɔdɔ tins. Becca and Bisa KDei are gradually creating something like that too, but obviously, we have still not completely gotten used to them yet.  

Sarkodie and Efya though, we know and have accepted. The ‘I’m in Love with You Now’ chorus is really what solidified their chemistry in our eyes, and since then, we have walked with them. Even on their individual projects ( I dare say), provided it’s a love song,  we have felt the presence of the other. Sarkodie particularly, has constantly ‘required’ Efya, to articulate affections in a way that is tender –in the way that the Ghanaian woman wants.

Efya is certainly bae
Efya is certainly bae

It’s simple and honest –this song. It’s a four minute song o, but  it comes in only a  few words. There’s only so much we can say in love, in the end. There are a million things we want to say…have to say, every second, but every time, we end up with only a few words, which is surprisingly what we really need, which surprisingly we hold on to the tightest. Everything else happens with action, which speaks louder anyway.

The central message is soft and fragile –all love is soft and fragile, in the beginning, and it’s the same choruses we sing:

see my jorley
odo yewu ei
be my baby ei

Aside everything, the song is such a conversation too; Sarkodie is so present in the song, and is such a gentleman in the way that he is supportive.  A gangster can be a lover too. He answers Efya’s every question and complements her every line, especially on the bridge and chorus. He feels gentle and fresh, and is a firm pillar behind her. His voice and words are sturdy and reassuring, and ensure that she can be bare and truthful, and with the courage in the knowledge that he’s there, she can go ahead and shine, and not have to worry about tripping and falling.

Sarkodie’s verse on this song is short and uncharacteristic. He’s always thrived on copious lyrics and a fast-paced delivery. Here though, it’s short and simple –a mere eight bars — the rest, he sprinkles around the bridge and chorus. It’s the honesty which he pours that is remarkable. There’s no shouting, there are no threats, there’s no bragging…just a man in love. He fits into that character, which the song required, efficiently. He’s not usually the one to compromise the hardcore rap battle background easily, even on a love song; he would always leak his warrior side, or brag a bit. But on this song, and on his Mary album, that’s a side he’s explored effortlessly well…and I’m tempted to believe that Efya had a hand in it, especially (like I’ve already mentioned), due to things she has led him to do on their previous collaborations.

The texture and pace at which we love today are significantly different  from the times of our parents and their parents; it’s one of the many things which differentiate us (we buy roses and teddy bears instead), but the words of love haven’t strictly changed, because the butterflies which provoke love itself, at the very base, are the same …the way we discuss sugary emotion hasn’t changed:

I never wanna let you go oo

but sometimes your love is so cold
baby I need you by my side

and I want you in my life

forever and ever

The tempo of the song is soft and easy — highlife, and let’s admit, after all these years, highlife is still the most authentic medium of singing about love in these parts. Like I said, the voice in which we talk about love is intact. It’s so soft that it even feels like slow motion. Many aspects of our love are in slow motion; when we first saw their walk, the one second the tips of our fingers touched theirs,  when the smiles met, when the lips collided under the big bright moon, and so on…

It starts — the Killbeatz programmed song, with the sound of a bass drum being pounded by a calm youthful hand. There’s something specifically indigenous about it,  something which reminds us of  the rhythm of hearts beating only on our gold coasts under the native sun.

The keyboard melody which walks in right after Efya opens the doors with ‘this love’,  is like a woman flowing in slow dance, or her long red silk dress falling off her shoulder slowly . It’s an endless wave throughout the song, and is key in conveying the mood of the song to the hearer…at least to me.

We are our most poetic when in love. It’s when we propound philosophies and also probably say the most nonsense. Efya’s second verse is scary ambitious (and accurate) about what lovers say to each other in that emotional space. She waxes pure depth, in Twi which sounds like it’s from an old woman, in a speed which seems like rap, only that she’s singing. And the things she’s saying! Christ Jesus!

Wo dɔ no da m’akoma mu nti obiaa nni hɔ aa ɔni wo sɛ

W’apɛdiɛ yɛ m’asɛdiɛ kyerɛ me nea wopɛ

na mɛyɛ ama wo

na mɛyɛ ama wo

na mɛyɛ ama wo

ɔdɔ mɛyɛ ama wo

Let’s translate: ‘ your love in right in my heart, therefore none compares to you/ your wish is my command, so just make a request, and I’ll deliver.’ Notice how many times she says ‘ namɛyɛ ama wo’ — ‘and I’ll deliver’. Like I said, lovers make too many damn promises. This love thing  ɛh!

In the lines which follow, where she blurts out Obidi-esque lines, she recounts where she’s been and what errands she’s ran for the sake of love. Here (specifically), is what I mean when I say that her speech, her poetry, has morphed into that of a wise old woman’s.  And then she ends that verse thus:

Na wo so me mu aa, ɔdɔ wo so me mu aa…

The above lines are not a complete sentence –’when you hold me, when you hold me…’ is what they translate as. She doesn’t finish the sentence, she’s unable to. Because the things which happen after a jorley’s touch, the emotions that the above lines summon, cannot be put in words… else you’re not in love, I swear down.

Due to globalization and the concept of staying with the times, we might prefer the words ‘bae’ or ‘boo’ — that’s indisputable. But once it feels like smooth and spicy disco, or it invokes a thousand promises and coastal vibes, the word is jorley…it’s definitely jorley. A happy Valentine’s to us all.

Follow him @myershansen

 

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