Even the artwork for Metanoia, singer Cina Soul’s debut EP trended on Twitter several days before the actual project was released for download online. That was a sign!
Through seven tracks, Metanoia trundles both delicately and fearlessly in a toothsome mix of indigenous and world sounds, the clichés of love and loss. Women (especially) have lamented loss since forever, still, Cina’s perspective is such an education.
The word “Soul” isn’t part of her stage name for nothing, that’s all I’m saying. It’s all so deeply emotive –her melody and perspective.
She’s versed in boys boys lingua, and that can be disturbing –ask the boys –because it means there’s nowhere to run. She’s speaking premium Pidgin, the one true medium for us boys to both express and conceal what we truly feel, and using jargon she shouldn’t know; “them say you be bad oh, but them no dey lie/ them say you go eat go, but I no dey mind”, she sings to crooner Kidi on Baddo. The nakedness of her words catch him off guard. They’re reassuring, but are both strange and troubling at first. He struggles to stay on his feet; “I know, I know you’ve heard some things”, as recovery. Of course he bounces back fully by the end of his verse, but those words are permanent memory, and we’re never used to such ones as those.
Whoever is responsible for Cina’s acquaintance with Pidgin in this way has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, for between that and Steve Harvey’s 2009 best-seller, we have been completely found out. But it’s a good thing too, because then there’s evidence that a woman can truly understand a man’s words, hence his emotions.
It is in the nature of rapper Worlasi to be “plain plain”. He brazenly confronts religion, ambition, struggling and politics in troubling directness, and equalizes Cina’s nnocuous daydreaming with his quintessential “no nonsense” oration and rich storytelling –which is why Lolonye is such an outstanding partnership. She sings “learn to love me”, he says “then you dey feel me unders”. She sings “pull me close”, and he sings something like “bedi mi rough chale” , and so forth. I can vouch for Worlasi’s demeanor most of the time, and even if I didn’t, he is an Ayigbe man, so he’s alright on his own. Nonetheless, Cina’s soft power is something else. And so by the end of the verse, he slips into decent English (mildly strange of him) and collapses into the vulnerabilities that accompany early love “I’ll tell you sweet words till it hurts”.
Cina lists Emeli Sandé, Sam Smith, Nigeria’s Asá among those from whom she absorbs influence.Her high notes are just as striking as her low sounds , so this makes perfect sense. Here’s more: “I grew up listening to a lot of soul and R&b music because my father was such an enthusiast. He’d play soul music at home anytime he got the chance. I learnt so much from Whitney Houston and Celine Dion as a result”, she submits in a May interview…and that clarifies so much.
I should probably mention at this juncture that all this maturity in thought and note, is contained in a twenty-year old woman. And in the words of rapper EL, “ Lord, why you put so much in one body?”. Both her strength and confidence come when she’s sustaining breathtaking notes, for when she’s not singing, she’s an entirely different person. When I have watched YouTube footage of her her being interviewed, or listen to podcasts of her talking about her life and music, I have marveled, because she’s soft spoken and abundantly shy. It couldn’t possibly be from this mouth and stomach such superior soothing and inner healing just flowed. No way. And then, just for good measure, she eases into a medley of songs from Stonebwoy, Mr Eazi etc., and then the world stops again.
You may have heard Julor, that brilliant single she promoted Metanoia with, and there’s no doubt you were blown away by it. Yet, every other song on the record regulates the pattern your breathing , and punctuates it with sighs so heavy and honest that, it will embarrass you in elevator company. She outdoored the album with a hugely successful concert August 13 at Alliance Française –Accra, which is the breeding ground for all music worthy of export.
I hate Awo for sure. It is not for the fainthearted, and I am of a faint heart. To ask of your mother (whether dead or living) the questions Cina asks of her “Awo Dede”, is right up there with the toughest tasks anyone has to embark on.
“So where have you gone to, where have you been for so long?”
Don’t be alarmed, my own Awo Dede is both alive and here, so I should not be grieved yet. Except, the message and feeling are so expertly articulated, I too suddenly feel like “I’ve been bleeding too slow, and I’ve been breathing too slow”
There’s an ascent in the song where she (in Ga, and accompanied by arresting violins), she sings:“Awo Dede, you left me/ Awo Dede, you left and have been silent”. And then, maintaining altitude, she soars in a chorus of similar words.
Specifically this, is why the song is not for me: at the end of such a moving apostrophe, she whispers –her first name only, “Cina” –as if to say, “ Yes, that’s me. I’m the reason you’re sniffing and checking for stray teardrops with the back of your hand. I did that!”
The chords which conclude Awo lead you right back to the beginning verse, and then the experience is repeated same way: “When the lights go out in June, I’ll pray you come soon”.
Metanoia, Cina explains, means growth. It is what she insists on this EP ( even if hers is still a nascent carer); in how she processes her emotions, and ours.
Born Christie Quincyna Quarcoopome, she’s alumn of both Aburi Girls Senior High and talent show Vodafone Icons Remix Edition. She studies Psychology and Archaeology in university, and does this last fact not confirm what an excellent observer she is of man’s ways! God!
Cina has not settled into her celebrity yet. In fact, in spite of her vocal wealth, she contests any attempt to anoint her singing star at all: “… I’m just a normal kid in school. Nobody ever mobs me or asks for autographs. It’s always lectures and back to my hostel. Like a normal kid.”, she says. Somehow, I reckon that will change quickly. She’s got too much soul.
Gabriel Myers Hansen is editor of ENEWSGH. Follow him @myershansen on Twitter.