The hook of Nacee’s Boys Boys is a pleasant puzzle: it’s technically suitable for the church premises, and at the same time, meets the requirements of anthems which permeate the lungus and streets of our inner cities.
It is a street jam for sure, because the hook is crafted with words we use everyday as youth. Listen to its first lines:“Boys aa yaba, y’eni shwee ooo, nanso yaba munbu da ooo/ Boys aa yaba, y’eni shwee ooo, nanso ye see yente gyae oo”. Yet the instrumentation and vocal harmony therein sound very much like a church chorus. This is musical wizardry.
Haven’t you noticed how Nacee has always found his way around a music structure seemingly unfair to the gospel genre, and whatever limitations accompany the tag of “gospel artist”?. Just last December, the Onaapo chorus (which he composed for the then ruling NDC) could be heard everywhere in the country. The cartoonish lilt in his voice, as well as his overall wit, have guaranteed for him as much public presence as secular artists — that coupled with the fact that he is behind one of every three gospel songs released in the country. So that suddenly, the complains that gospel music isn’t as widely embraced as secular music doesn’t apply to him.
On the morning of April 9 at the Conference Centre, a beaming Nacee could not keep calm behind fellow gospel singer Joe Mettle as he lowered his head to give his speech upon being adjudged VGMA Artist of the Year 2017. It was historic in all respects, but most importantly, for the gospel fraternity.Weeks prior, there had been a deliberate campaign, spearheaded by the likes of Sonnie Badu, Nacee himself, and a host of other key gospel heads to garner support for him to win the ultimate prize. Mettle was clearly dazed by the victory, but mentioned a measured voice throughout his delivery. Nacee (like the small party which had followed Joe up the podium), cheered and clapped as Mettle rounded up his victory speech: “As you all know, this is for gospel, this is for Christianity. And for every gospel musician in this house, the door is open.”
Days after the ceremony, gospel promoter Kwasi Ernest declared to Accra-based TV3 that the genre was going to posses the award for three years running.
And then, on Thursday morning, Nacee announces Boys Boys. Suddenly, Joe’s concluding words take up urgent meaning, for Boys Boys is an instant countrywide anthem. Nacee knew what he had up his sleeves when he was up there with Joe. Like Shatta Wale’s Take Over, this tune, off his forthcoming Councellor 2 CD, embodies unmistakable street credibility, and speaks to what a shiny jewel Nacee has been to the industry all these years. Suffice to say that his Councellor 1 project beat of ferocious competition from fellow powerhouses as M.anifest, EL, FlowKing Stone, and Sonnie Badu to pick up the prestigious Album of the Year at VGMA 2017 earlier this month.
The song also features rapper Guru, and is a daily dose of upliftment delivered in the language of the masses — dance-ready melody and an effortless groove of delight that is NOT possible to resist. All it takes is a single listen. As soon as the infectious pre-hook and hook (rendered by a multitude of male voices) hit you, you know that this is a song for the people…this is a song for you! Even at first listen, Boys Boys feels popular. But no, you’ve not heard it before…it’s just a quality of music on it’s way to being a classic –instant recall.
Boys Boys is a product of sheer musical command and artistic versatility. Nacee curates spellbinding sound from everyday Ghanaian lingua: “Eno so woho” made popular by AMG rapper Medikal, “Gada”, “Tsele”, “Yente gyae”…He mentions cars which we youth consider the ultimate aspiration — Ferrari, Mazeratti, Buggati, and doesn’t “overspiritualize” the discourse. In the entire song, he mentions Hallelujah just once, and references God as many times. Still, he maintains a Christian dignity, and insists on kempt language on Guru’s part.
A good song that should become a major streetside lollipop this year, it has ample depth the Nacee way; pick an ordinary theme and turn it into something magical only Nacee beats. When the song gets onto the highway of popular Ghanaian bridge language – which both put to accurate use – it renders itself from a title cooked in an unassuming studio in Accra into an instant nationwide jam that may yet form 2017’s base to groundbreaking hits, Shatta Wale’s ‘Taking Over’, the year’s other biggest tune, the only prey in sight.
Guru contributes decent verses — two of them, painting literal scenarios of the unjust victory of opulence over gritty hustle, and the promise of a good life ultimately. But these lines lend themselves to easy amnesia — maybe it’s because lines thus have been heard from him (and his colleague rappers) times without number, or maybe because Nacee dispatches a hook that potentially overshadows even the fiercest of rap verses.
Crucially, it is the beautiful manner in which the whole composition is transported across its themes that makes it one, truly for the boys boys. Nacee and Guru are both products of an urban core that greases Ghana’s sometimes wilted music scene with their back-to-back works of so many years. So, they do definitely know how to turn the keys on. This is an effort so turnkey, so bold, so beautiful.
On Boys Boys, the two perfectly sparked an ignition that cut through their crafts from a demand and supply curve of no guts, no glory to selling hope to a people thirsty for a Q2, 2017, major jam. In the end, both become a supply unit that delivers salvation when it’s needed most.
In Accra’s ghettos, hope is going for a song because Nacee and Guru paid for it.