The narrative in this Aka Blay song is straightforward — “the girls are coming with us, and there’s nothing you can do about it”. This is excessively courageous and should cause repulsion in the hearer. True or false?
But this is what is strange: it is thoroughly enjoyable, and brings to the eye, images of excited faces of young men discussing ample-bodied damsels, over calabashes of fermented palm wine. And for a song which may even border on a dirtiness, it has collected steadily, such wide appeal…even a VGMA nomination this year.
I know we can be mysterious in our affections to certain songs around here, but I have to ask this: why are we this drawn to Take Away, when we should be fuming in indignation over the blatant disregard for our culture and values, and the place of a woman in it? Whatever happened to recognizable feminists, as this song might just be the ultimate chorus which belittles the substance and intellectual worth of the Ghanaian woman…and many such debates which gender advocates usually trumpet?
For one thing, the song is beautiful. That’s strange when you hear yourself say it, but then again, the strings and trumpets vindicate you. The intro is gentle and warmly affective. It’s so pleasantly smooth, like some emotional love song aama. Because the introductory chords invoke a specific homesickness –the same one we experience when we hear that Paapa Yankson and Paulina Oduro duet. Then the first few words come:
Ladies and gents
Are you ready now
We are taking the girls away
No words are minced here, and the lines are repeated. But if that doesn’t register in your anxieties yet, they come again in the chorus. This time by a collective of fearless (most certainly drunk) masculines.
This is probably Blay’s most ‘accessible’ song yet, maybe his best… and that’s what is odd, because he’s already done it all –the endless international tours and laurels, yet when you google him, the most prominent result you get is Take Away and related news. Radio can’t even try to avoid Take Away. The requests just keep coming in.
This song is also the one song of that practically bridges his time with ours. How does he do that? He recruits one of the most imposing contemporary rappers unto the song. Cabum’s speech is made of steel, and affects you in the same way his name sounds –CABUM! He’s got an aggressive confidence, and he will get you to listen. At the same time, he embodies raw wit (he describes his style of music as bentua music of all things). On Take Away, he raps a playful and flirtatious verse to Habiba/ Adiza (he knows not her name –the young lady he’s trying to woo, so he throws in those names and hopes he’s right). He also hails Blay’s clout when it comes to the guitar […Mr Aka sɔ ne guitar mu aa, the whole wide world should wait/ ɔkye crowd kraa kyɛn Bill Gates].
Even when Aka Blay intends on crossing over to a much younger listenership, he’s loyal to the medium he’s known and revered for –original, wholesome, lively highlife. Even the rapper from whom he seeks assistance has had intimate attachment to highlife music –Cabum is son of legendary highlife crooner Alhaji K. Frimpong, the same one who sang Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu. In Take Away, Aka Blay provides an antidote for dilemmas of old musicians looking to maintain a realistic grip on commercial relevance today, and proves that we can still have conversation: artists of the generation before and us –children of today.
Blay’s verses on this song are fashionably short, still, they’re specific in what they articulate. The sense of confidence in a certainty of an event is extraordinary:
Whatever you do,
I will take you home
I will take you home tonight
Whatever you say
I will take you home
I will take you home tonight
What does Aka, and his disciples know or possess that the makes them this sure? We should all be bothered, even a little, for there are women in our lives. And when a musician of all people…not a plumber or lotto worker (no offense)… suggests (sorry, threatens) to bundle them away like food carried in a pack or polyethylene, does it not attempt to compromise the national cohesion we have, and which also becomes fragile with each passing day? Anyway…
Just for programming instrumentation to this song, Peewezel is immediately more special to Ghana music than he already is. The beat is flawless, and in my opinion, one of the highest points of his artistic journey, and highlife of today. I mean, Peewezel is no stranger to us when it comes to making beats, mainly because of his impact on popular music around here, but his effort on Take Away moves the conversation a notch higher…two notches even.
Again, why have we become this enamoured with Take Away? Granted, it has taken some time for the song to gain traction ( it was released in November of last year…maybe earlier, and that is late because we’re in the era of social media and Obinim abilities), but since it has, it is working wonders.
The song is funny…that’s another point. The concept is incredibly creative. Creativity has more bite when is is built around humour, because we all need to laugh…and Take Away is troubling because it is effective in that way.
Also (perhaps most importantly), it’s simple. The tangled parts of the song might be Cabum’s rap and the emotionally lengthy saxophone outro, but even they appear to be transparent at heart. The song itself –it’s build –is simple. Simplicity is the key. It is easier to preach it than to actually practise it, but simplicity, when in motion, is absolute magic.
Aka Blay has been to many of us born in the neighborhood of the 90s, a Shakespeare of some sort…someone we don’t necessarily know but know about because we have read up on him, just so we can say, “I know a treasured secret in the highlife story and you don’t, I know someone other than Kojo Antwi and Amakye Dede who epitomizes the core values of music of Ghanaian music…”
…well until now. Take Away has granted Aka Blay more access to us. More importantly, Take Away has granted us more access to him, and even for Cabum, it brings him a bit out of the underground, because his skill and voice are something we require today …and that’s good. Take Away is a good song.
@myershansen on Twitter