Welcome to our analysis of selected performances from the ongoing Coke Studio Africa show. Throughout this series, ENEWSGH editor Gabriel Myers Hansen looks specifically at Ghanaian reps ( E.L, Efya, Stonebwoy, and Feli Nuna) and how they match up to their colleagues from the rest of the continent.
Today, rapper EL’s rendition of Kenyan act Jaguar’s One Centimeter, as well as their collaborative effort with South African DJ Maphorisa on Warrior comes under focus.
EL (born Elom Adabla), is a perhaps Ghana’s most prestigious rep at the event as he is reigning VGMA Artist of the Year. Does he live up to the billing?
Also up for discussion is singer Efya’s efforts on the Loss/ Decepticon medley. Recently signed to Wizkid’s Starboy Worldwide and regular recipient of VGMA Female Vocalist of the Year award, does she prove herself a good enough ambassador of Ghana on the show?
EL’s cover of Kenyan colleague Jaguar’s One Centimeter, is undoubtedly the highest point of Ghanaian performances in the debut episode of the Coke Studio Africa series.
Of course, singer Efya, Ghana’s other rep for the episode also renders a brilliant account of herself, delivering a soothing rendition of the song Decepticon, and then Loss, alongside Ugandan singer Eddy Kenzo. Backed by gentle voices and soft instrumentation entirely from Samsung smartphones, the Jorley crooner cruised playfully through the strikingly smooth melody Decepticon travels in.
Employing whispers, childish giggling, and suggestive use of fingers on her left hand while daydreaming of a certain “Nana” and his many, many “potencies”, she also manages to drive home a specifically sensual message; like when she sings “but most of all, internally”.
Soon after; “that’s my man though, he’s my Nana/ he’s so big, and so strong”. It’s all so convincing that all Kenzo can manage are embarrassing interjections.
Both of EL’s performances are powerful. When he joins forces with Jaguar, and DJ Maphorisa for Warrior, he clearly dominates. Alternating between buoyant rap and equally fervent singing, he clearly demonstrates his ability as a live performer, which is one key test of the show.
EL has earned respect as a more than decent rapper in Ghana, and indeed on the continent, but slowly, he’s also garnering respect as a singer. But then again, singing has always been as integral as rapping to his music; You Go Kill Me, Auntie Martha, Koko, Kaa Bu Ame etc.
When he cries “away from me ei” while ad-libing towards the peak of the song, you know he’s insisting on ingraining memory of that performance. Coupled with how he incorporates Ga into the song, as well as how he steers both crowd and instrumentalists, he creates such a fulfilled experience. Can we say the same for Jaguar’s cover of his Koko?