A King Promise album, when it finally arrives, will be disruptive for sure – not the aggressive kind, but the sort of impact that is seamless –like seduction that precedes steamy amorous congress. How can one tell? By the artist’s own previous work; “Thank God”, “Oh Yeah”, “Hey Sexy”, “Selfish”. It is often a strong wind that announces a downpour, no?
Every record that LLE singer King Promise (Gregory Bortey Newman) has put out since he first tasted mainstream success in 2016, has been outstanding. Very few colleagues have equaled such a feat. That he’s a born showman cannot therefore, be up for debate.
And while he bears the specific 90s lover boy persona that attracts female admiration, Promise’s most prized (and vital) asset would be his voice; that exquisitely tidy apparatus through which he conveys his truths – intimate emotional experiences that are just as valid to the hearer. With “CCTV”, his latest offering and now most prominent song, he reiterates via the unique silky texture of his singing, the widespread assertion that he’s a leading name among the new generation of vocal specialists on Ghana’s airwaves. Evidently honed since childhood, the voice retains effortless R & B magic; a uniquely sublime method of sailing the specific octaves that house the deepest emotions. Man and voice have remained allies for a significant period, and have fashioned a technique so reliable that today, Promise can break into awe-inspiring acapella sessions amidst running the length of a stage during performances.
When he offers comfort; “so make you no cry oo, no cry oo, say ego be, make you still try oo”, adding that the grace of God is sufficient; or concludes Verse 1 (“Baba God dey for my side so no shegey”), one feels it in his own chest. Making music is a mysterious process — the artist is creating in private, but his work is meant for public consumption. The balance is always chancy, but honesty to one’s self is a good place to start. “CCTV”, like most truly abiding tunes, invades the listener’s inner nerves in a manner that is both shocking and comforting; because these are not unfamiliar sentiments, but again, they address the consumer’s battles which have yet to be named out loud to anyone. “How did the singer know I am battling such and such?,” you find yourself wondering. Ultimately, that’s how you know we’re all connected beyond our skin tones and last names. The song is therapy for both its creator and user: “make you do your best/ Use your sense/I shun the stress since I put God first, chale.”
A two – edged blade, Promise navigates inspirational themes as effectively as he treats love stories. In both spheres, a commanding vocal spirit is the core criterion. Promise meets this, thus, evidently, is recipient of constant glowing feedback both for a “Thank God” here, and a “Selfish” there. Two – edged blade.
Production-wise, “CCTV” retains churchy piano, violin and xylofon placements targeted a influencing mood deeply, as well as victorious drums and claps which recall a gentle kind of jama. It discharges a faith that is not desperate – the kind of confidence ensured only in the shadows of the Most High.
The singer’s regular creative sidekick, Killbeatz (who programmed “CCTV”), is a living legend – evidence of his competence as a maker of hit records litters radio locally and across international markets. Sarkodie, Kuami Eugene, Ed Sheeran, Fuse ODG, R2Bees, WizKid among other Afrobeats influencers have all benefited from his wizardry. Indeed, Killbeatz (born Joseph Addison) is a major player in branding Tema as a melody headquarters. He’s also sensei at marrying the party and the temple — his most prominent references would be R2Bees’ “Life” (2012), and his own “Bokoor” (2016); which are tenable to dance as they are apt for spiritual reflection.
Lyrically, King Promise has always stuck to simplicity, confident in its psychological puissance. He has shone there, creating instantaneous sing-alongs that also radiate elegance. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, pontificates Da Vinci. Light-years on, singers like King Promise continue to vindicate him.
The apogee of “CCTV” — and this is not a comment on Promise’s delivery, which is flawless anyway — may have come from elsewhere though; specifically, how (unsurprisingly) well Mugeez’s hook-making gift comes to play. The singer – half of Afrobeats duo, R2Bees, is respected for his genius with the great chorus. That flair is displayed on the joint, with the naturalness that is the result of being born with a talent, rather than having to learn it. Sarkodie sprays an inspirational guest verse, with the precise wit which has made him an African superstar, to complete the joint.
Promise’s game plan coming into the industry was not to detonate abrupt hits — it was to win his way into the hearts of music lovers in a style that was deliberate and unrushed, so that, now, an organic trust has been fostered, and trending on YouTube for an entire month, and racking up a million views in that period, feels like the natural order of things.
“CCTV” became a hit the very second it was published. It is the song we had been waiting for, for though it deviates from popular subject matters of amour and boogie (the trusted formula for radio success everywhere), it speaks to a prevailing, albeit overlooked situation: we may dance to music of flamboyant instrumentation and smile at overused lines which characterize Casanova pitches, but we cannot also be starved of motivational spiels as are packaged in the song. That it was instantly latched unto like ticks on a preferred host, is incontrovertible proof. To be able to gauge social temperature this accurately, and meet it with such a masterpiece, is telling on the value of Promise’s craft.
Buy “CCTV” by King Promise on iTunes
Artist: King Promise ft. Mugeez, Sarkodie
Label, Year: Legacy Life Entertainment, 2018