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INTERVIEW: Efya Is Making Afrobeats on Her Own Terms

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It’s Efya‘s time.

Efya’s soulful voice and jazz-inflected artistry put her in a lane of her own within the new wave of afro fusion artists from Ghana and Nigeria. Her debut album Genesis was a vibrant introduction to her talent, and with her upcoming album, Until the Dawn, the singer promises more soul and “a lot more funk.”

We got a chance to speak with Efya ahead of her first-ever show in NYC and she spoke to us about her unique sound, her past and future collaborations, and how’s she’s preparing for “Efya time.”

Read our conversation below.

 

OkayAfrica: What are you up to in New York City?

Efya: I came here to perform at a show. I’m working on some new music, we have some producers here, and DJ Tunez and my PR had me doing stuff with the guys like photo shoots. We shot a video for the last single, “Love,” that I released for Valentine’s Day. You know, preparations. There’s always a next project we’re working on.

OkayAfrica: And the next project for you is a new album?

Efya: Yes, definitely.

OkayAfrica: Is the sound evolving?

Efya: It’ll be a lot more funk. Like, you know, Bruno Mars meets afro-punk.

OkayAfrica: What producers are you working with?

Efya: We’re doing a lot of stuff with Maleek Berry, it’s a very different sound. Also, with Del’Band DJ Tunez, as I said earlier.

OkayAfrica: You just got signed to Starboy last year. How did that come about?

Efya: Wizkid and I have been friendly for a long time so I think it was just about You know, it was a timing thing. We have so much music together and it made sense to be on the same team. It was meant to happen. Work-wise, we work really well together and as you can see on “Daddy Yo” we had a lot of fun.

OkayAfrica: Congrats on “Daddy Yo.” How did that collaboration come about?

Efya: I mean, every time I’m asked that question, I say we were in the studio and we were just vibing and that’s how it was, you know. We had come across a lot of different kind of sounds and I wanted to try something different. That was the first time that I tried anything in that genre and I’m glad we did it.

OkayAfrica: There’s been this explosion of afrobeats recently. How do you feel about the term “afrobeats”?

Efya: I know, right. I always wonder about it and I don’t know who coined it up because the sounds are so different depending on where you’re coming from and the language you’re using, but I think most of it is because of the drums.

OkayAfrica: The drums?

Efya: Yes, because there’s this thing about African sound where you hear it, wherever you hear it you know that’s African. Mostly because of the drums. No matter where you send it to, now they’re even mixing afro-beat with techno and that’s awesome.

OkayAfrica: Would you call yourself an “afrobeats” artist?

Efya: Would I? I mean I do make afrobeats music, but I think, very soulfully. So what does that make me? An afrobeats soulful person? You know the kind of music we’re making depends on the kind of vibe that we’re on also. I would definitely say that I’m a singer but I don’t mind mixing it with the genre because I’ll just be singing, I’ll be scattering on jazz. It’s not something that I can resist. This is who I am.

OkayAfrica: So you’re going to LA soon to record with Wizkid, right? Can you say anything about that, what are you guys recording?

Efya: You know, he’s about to drop a very amazing mixtape which I’ve got some features on, so you know, just brushing things up.

OkayAfrica: So you feature on more than “Daddy Yo”?

Efya: Yes.

OkayAfrica: How many other tracks are you on?

Efya: I can’t say. But you’re going to love it. It’s a very different vibe but you know, music is music. It’s magical, especially as it grows and as it changes, so I believe that that’s a great thing.

Credit: OkayAfrica.com

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A ‘Sark’ FULL OF Glory… Sarkodie – THE ‘Highest’ ALBUM REVIEW

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While Sarkodie’s catalogue easily sets him apart as a remarkably gifted rapper, he has proven just as fertile with dance-ready anthems. Since his 2009 debut Makye (DuncWills), the BET laureate has made a bold case for African hiphop, dispensing regular bountiful fits of dizzying, dazzling, and clever wordplay (justly securing him a place among topmost names of his era). At the same time, the man is an expert in party songs: Baby, You Go Kill Me, Pon The Ting, Adonai, RNS, Fa Sor Hor, Gboza etc.

A lyrical phenom, Sarkodie is both Jack and master of many trades. This is why his fifth album Highest (SarkCess, 2017) was anticipated feverishly by all of Africa. Consisting 18 songs, it was published on September 8.

The CD follows Mary (SarkCess, 2015), which was published to immense critical praise. The project is a moving highlife album, which is also tribute to his grandmother Mary Lokko. Co-written by label-mate Akwaboah Jnr., it was swiftly touted as his most ingenious submission yet. Does Highest knock it off that pedestal? Most certainly not. Still, this new album is one fine piece of work.

It was led with Painkiller (ft. Runtown), which is listed as a bonus track. According to the rapper (born Michael Owusu Addo), the album title best encapsulates his current state of mind.

But when has the rapper never felt like the highest? If there’s one thing Sarkodie is known for in the past ten years or so that he’s done music professionally, it is his flair with braggadocio. It is what the culture of hip-hop requires, and he has studied to show himself approved. It seems pointless to list examples of songs which are strewn with infinite adulation of himself and his abilities, as it will mean citing nearly everything he has released but the Mary album. Still, there lingers an itch:  New Guy, Lay Away, Saa Okodie No, Hand to Mouth, Illuminati, Oluwa is Involved, Rap Attack, Original, Preach, Take it Back, Kanta, Return Of the Spartans, Bossy

REVIEW: On 10 of Sarkodie’s best

There features a sufficient amount of conceit on the album, as can be noticed on Silence, We No Dey Fear, Highest, Light it Up, and Certified. But more than that, the work navigates “higher” themes such as notions of beauty and self-worth, focus and dedication, faith, and the subsequent recognition which crowns hard work.

And so, a song like Glory (ft. Yung L) bears great significance. Track 18 on the project, it is also easily the most loved number so far. Accentuated by delicate saxophone melody over what is essentially highlife, the song feels like church, and calls to memory another Sarkodie classic – Adonai (ft. Castro).  Adonai and Glory  bear similar themes: there’s light at the end of the tunnel, especially if God is involved. Accompanying visuals  for Glory (directed by IKŌNE) depict the exact point desire metamorphoses into reality. Rendered in compelling black-and white, it shows the rapper, his partner Tracy, daughter Titi, and members constituting the nucleus of the “SarkCess” team reveling in the good life made possible by his consistency atop the throne.

Glory works flawlessly as what the album comes down to: no matter where you are, dreams do manifest if you keep at them, and are patient and resilient enough to see them come to pass. Thus, after citing a certain Kwame Boadi, one of the many doubters of his elaborate vision, and having fought off many battles over his career and emerged victorious, he can afford to declare:

“King Sark till I die/ nobody can ever pull me down.”

Highest is as much a rap album as it is melodic, something made possible by the layered approach of a typical Jayso production. Born Paul Nuamah Donkor, Jayso (who’s also listed as Executive Producer for the project) is widely considered a key player in Ghanaian hip-hop, especially for his inroads with the Skillions. Especially since the beef with M.anifest  last year, one could argue that Sarkodie has felt the need to reassert himself as a prized lyricist, or at least remind all that while he strays occasionally, his feet remain firmly rooted in hardcore rap, and he does that conclusively in Highest. The nifty act he is, he serves the Afrobeat constituency a number of songs too: Overdose, Your Waist, Far Away, All Night.

 There may not be a “massive hit” on the album, at least judging by the rapper’s own standard, again, referring to such songs as You Go Kill Me, Pon The Ting, Adonai, RNS, Fa Sor Hor, and Gboza. All songs on there require repeated play to fully engage with and properly appreciate –which is how albums should be consumed anyway.

Regular collaborators Efya, Mugeez, and Akwaboah are absent on this Sarkodie album, and that is note-worthy as they have served as central sonic complements for him over time. Protégé Strongman Burner is also missing. Instead, Sarkodie experiments with Victoria Kimani, Moelogo, Praiz, Korede Bello, Jesse Jagz, Bobii Lewis among others. The result is impressive.

Highest is one for the grown man. It is not as vulnerable as Jay- Z’s 4:44 for instance, but it is personal enough — more personal than Sarkodie has ever been. Notice how closely he holds Titi to his heart on the cover, the earnest with which he beholds her perfect eyes. Observe how flagrantly he worships the many sides of wife Tracy, very carnally and most notably on Baby Mama (ft. Joey B). And indeed, the nuance with with he remembers his journey.

There are even deeper interiors he can venture, and we expect that of him with time. On this project though, Sarkodie proves that he’s unafraid to confront his very depths. He has it in him. And if you really think about it, he’s always possessed this trait.

*Highest is Sarkodie’s fifth album after Makye (2009), Rapperholic (2012), Sarkology (2014), Mary (2015).

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M.anifest’s ‘Be My Woman’ – A VIDEO REVIEW

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Soft sunlight cuts into a small loft overlooking the city, announcing Friday August 11. Ahuofe Dua’s eyes slowly part open to welcome it. A slight neck pain reminds her what a hectic day yesterday was. An extra hour of sleep will be a blessing, but sleep is for the weak.

She inhales deeply and sits upright. She reaches for her phone on the nightstand to her left, and replies a quick message. Through the screen, she’s also greeted by the single tattoo she has. Elegant ink the shape of love, it rests just beneath her clavicle, pointing down at her heart. She had that tattoo done on the eve of her 21st birthday, right around the time she had decided that short hair works best for her.

She wraps a towel around her head, and soon, she settles into her morning routine, which involves sipping tea against the smiling sun, lighting a stick of incense, making soup, dancing by her window, half an hour of yoga, and then a shower.

The above is what ensues in the first minute of M.anifest’s latest video Be My Woman. Directed by Makere Thekiso (Call Back Dreams Production), the song features South African House band Mi Casa, and like all things M.anifest, steers conversation away from the hullabaloo to the core of matters: great art. It is what he has insisted on from the very start, especially with collaborations, and whereas artists collaborate for various business reasons, great art is what should be the the real “business reason”, he holds. This is why his music oozes such soul.

Deservedly so, M.anifest (Kwame Ametepe Tsikata) has earned a seat at Africa’s rap Vatican, delivering some of the most iconic verses the macho genre has witnessed in recent history. Yet, because of such songs as Cupid’s Crooked Bow, Goodbye, and Mind Games, he’s also distinguished himself in the character of resident loverboy. When it’s time to show vulnerability, M.anifest shows up just as impressively.  A singular verse he pours on Simple Love, made it one of the most requested songs in 2016. Supported only by an acoustic guitar, he empties his very depths unto the record –and when an artist is fearless in his weakness, it also translates to the ear at the end of his voice. Doubtlessly one of the biggest songs off Nowhere Cool (his latest album), it is unanimously recited back to him during performances.

M.anifest & singer J’Something share a laugh onset. Credit: M.anifest

Mi Casa member J’Something onset “Be My Woman”. Credit: M.anifest

He replicates a similar sensation in Be My Woman. “never felt like this/ my heart’s over heels but my heart says I like this/ my muse, it’s for you that I write this/ you make a gee send out sappy emojis”, he begins, before going on to unconditional love and fairytale nobility for Ahuofe Dua. There overflows in his speech, the specific authenticity of the foolishness of flaming love. And as everybody has articulated sentiments thus at one point in life or another, it makes it the more relatable.

Mi Casa’s sound –alternative, mature, and gracefully interior, proves a perfect balance for the Mike Millz –produced joint. Consisting producer Dr. Duda, silky singer J’Something, and hornsman Mo-T, they add to the first-rate quality of the song. Respected as a strong force in Ghanaian hiphop, Millz merges melodies from the two parts uniquely, but manages to retain the essence of the sounds: the strings and trumpet feel South African, but also present in the drum progression is unmistakable Ghanaianness, like is heard on another M.anifest record —Forget Dem (2015).

M.anifest & Mi Casa on the set of “Be My Woman”. Credit: M.anifest

Ahuofe Dua might translate from Twi as “tree of beauty”, and is a peculiar Ghanaian compliment for women of infinite splendor.  It is accurately testimonies of such a woman that we hear in those 4 minutes or so, and witness in the accompanying visuals. “Shea butter, smooth skin, gap tooth, 24-carat smile” –the daily charm of African goddess is portrayed both without effort and unnecessary flamboyance. Also present in the film is an alluring proximity worked into the eyes of the viewer. This sleekness in rendering may appear normal, but is not– else it will be seen in every third music video on YouTube. It is the consequence of deliberate ingenuity behind the lens, and exceptional sleights.

While Be My Woman is a refreshing marriage between the sounds of Ghana and South Africa, and adds delightfully to his catalogue, it is not the first time he is pulling something of this nature off. A truly pan- African artist M.anifest seems to have developed a natural connection with acts from that part of the continent especially, brewing masterpieces with rap heavyweights HHP, ProVerb, and Tumi Molekane, as well as with eclectic singer/spoken word artist Nomisupasta.

A gentle sun sets on the the smooth chocolate complexion of Ahuofe Dua’s skin. She’s draped in a flowery dress which reaches down her wrists and ankles. Large beads hang down her neck, and a happy smile draws across her face. The majesty of her gait on these pavements has made her the object of every man’s gaze. She’s unmoved by the many admiring eyes trained on her. She notices the tall dark man by the car ahead, and her smile broadens. He’s wearing a suit and a hat, and holds a large kempt beard between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. He’s smiling too. They embrace –Ahuofe Dua and this tall dark man, like lovers. He is no stranger; all through her day he has been present –in spirit and in truth –reciting her rap from a chair across the bed as she slept, in her mirror, next to her earlier as she showered, and while she painted her toe nails earlier.

The class of Be My Woman, like other pieces M.anifest has published in the past, makes it something to treasure — a product of genuine global quality. It reaffirms confidence in his mandate as among leading ambassadors of art and culture from the Gold Coast.

 

A multiple –award winner, M.anifest is author of Manifestations (2007), The Birds and the Beats (2009), Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America (2011), Apae: the price of free EP (2013), , and Nowhere Cool (2016).

He is signed to Singitdamnit!

 

Watch “Be My Woman” below:

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A highly spiritual WAIST BEAD & a jam for days – ‘Jennifer Lomotey’ – A REVIEW

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Like the imprint handling him now, singer Kurl Songx’s Jennifer Lomotey strikes you in a manner that is truly “highly spiritual”. It’s highlife alright – the one true conduit of the Ghanaian love speech – still, it is characterized by incendiary pizzazz which we’ve only seen work with dancehall or hip-hop.

What a way for singer Kurl Songx to state his name! 1st runner-up for Vodafone Icons – Street Edition (2013) and 2016 winner of music reality show MTN Hitmaker, the unassuming chap has stirred vibrations powerful enough to invoke fear and trembling amongst even established acts. Like Bisa KDei did with Mansa and Brother Brother in 2015, Songx’s song is immediately key for the genre, and key among songs of influence in 2017, Taking Over, Sponsor, Bronya, Leg Over etc notwithstanding. Aftershocks of Jennifer Lomotey will be felt for a long long time. Thus is the consequence of fearless creativity.

Indeed, Songx himself may never fully understand what bold statement he has made – how well he has scratched his initials into modern highlife. After all, he merely set out to remember a harmless high school infatuation. Yet, is “ordinary” not vital in spelling “extraordinary”?

Jennifer Lomotey is designed to abide. From title to final note, it is impossible to forget. “The title self dey kill me, confesses a lager enthusiast behind a pot-belly and grams of hops and barley. It is a wild name to call a song, and perhaps Jehoshaphat Eshun (Screwface) was told same when he recorded Gbalagazaa, which ranks among bona fide hits of the 2000s.

The vehemence that this KayWa-engineered jam oozes is as a result of deliberate tailoring. It is why each semitone of the instrumentation embodies rare uniqueness and flavorsome finishing. Like a meal prepared with love, every second of the tune is anticipated with childish delight, because, each moment is filled with uncommon wit.

These meticulously placed components make for exciting little brainteasers too, ensuring that the song lends itself seamlessly to the replay button: that hush is merely a pause, and not conclusion, those punchy drum sequences here aren’t quite the same throughout the song after all.

Nothing less is expected from the Highly Spiritual Music CEO – the celebrated genius who has also brewed hit songs for Sarkodie, Kwabena Kwabena Ofori Amponsah, Ohemaa Mercy, Becca, Castro, Buk Bak, and a host of others. 4-time VGMA Producer of the Year, KayWa, via Jennifer Lomotey, pushes the boundaries of highlife to new scopes — yet again, proving his value to music from these parts.  The cadence of the song is established in classic highlife, and those string and percussion placements ensure that the spirit of the melody is back to the good old days. Nevertheless, KayWa’s fingertips sprinkle an essence that is custom-built and truly avant-garde. That is why it will serve as outline for the next phase of the genre.

Notice how the instrumentation is memorized alongside lyric in the song. Notice how the bass guitar hums along to lines from the catchy chorus delivered by Songx. Not many other songs bear this feature.

I give you my heart and my body

Whenever you need love, call me

I go give it to you six in the morning

I be your hobby

I go do anything for your body

These words, which constitute the crust of the chorus, aren’t exactly problematic. They sung with the passionate tenderness of a lover, not a fighter.  Hardly the same can be said for Sarkodie though, who possesses one of the most important voices on the continent. It has been the case for well over a decade. Ace broadcaster Nana Aba Anamoah aptly notes of his influence in a July tweet: “Want to go higher? Feature Sarkodie”. Examples abound in and outside the country to justify Nana Aba’s pronouncement.

Recruiting the rap icon also means employing a lyrical beast who is held back by nothing! A true artist, he’s not scared to create discomfort: he’s poked power, and veered into risky terrain like fornication, homosexuality, the Illuminati…Guest verses he has submitted on joints as R2Bees’ Ajeei, Joey B’s Tonga, Ofori Amponsah’s Alewa, because of how border-line coarse innuendoes in these verses have been, they have attracted as much disapproval as they have courted praise. In Jennifer Lomotey, it is these words that have caused public uproar, most notably among Ada youth, who take this line: “Krobonii baa papa a ahweneɛ da ne sisi/ Komfo Anokye de adwaman abɔ no dua” to be a statement of utmost disrespect to their tribe.  Proclaiming that a foremost witchdoctor in Ghanaian history has cursed this Krobo woman with promiscuity cannot be taken lightly under any circumstance.

Yet, to Sarkodie, as it should be with all creatives, “taboo topic” is merely an expression. He’s clever, and seemingly emerges unscathed from scandals festered by his bars, every time. Radio smells something fishy with his rhyme for sure, but can’t really do much about it, because the words aren’t necessarily invectives, hence not exactly prohibited.

The lady at the end of both verses that Sarkodie spews, should be shaken, even if it’s love that is being promised. The phraseology through which the rapper conveys his intentions are impish and forward, stimulating and disturbing.

Accompanying visuals had to be just as big, and Songx’s handlers entrusted Gorilla Films’ Justin Campos with that task. Campos is a top name in video directing around the continent, and as expected, he delivers a picture which is top-notch – mainly being led by the punches in the song, and constructing a story through fast cars, club lights and glossy lipstick. Will the video, despite it being shot in sunny South Africa by the great Gorilla Films have as much impact as the song? That is a judgment we can make after a few months at least.

Songx is a determined vocalist, considering the quality of competition he fought off in MTN Hitmaker (where he simply traded by Kelvin): F9, Eugene and Sir Tino. To be under the tutelage of KayWa is extra fortune for anyone. It gives the crooner extra advantage.

Stimulus as is found in Jennifer Lomotey cannot be captured in a single song, and you don’t change a formula that works. Therefore, the pair have swiftly recorded a follow-up.

Titled Whistle and due for release this Saturday, it is also produced by KayWa, and Campos handles accompanying visuals. Songx’s handlers are optimistic of just as much success. And why not? Jennifer Lomotey has opened key doors for the act, and perhaps in this one case, lightening will strike the same place twice.

Kaywa bɔ me piano…

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Yaa Baby’s Purse & a Premature Christmas – Wutah’s ‘Bronya’ – A REVIEW

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Bronya, the second joint since Wutah announced their return as a group, is an important record for many reasons.

Smoothly authentic highlife programmed by Kindee, it expels all doubt that the Kotosa boys are back to take what is theirs: a spot among our favourite bands.

But we can’t necessarily blame skeptics: save for, perhaps BukBak, no Ghanaian group has, after splitting, seen any success upon resurgence. But then again, none really came back with a hit as solid as what Bronya is proving to be. It is why Wutah’s case is worth studying, though understandably, it may be a bit premature.

BukBak made a bold statement with Kolom and Alanta (both off Fisherman’s Anthem), but Bronya is as a blistering left hook unleashed from the fist of a prized boxer. It sets them back onto the legacy they began charting with Anamontuo –an exceptional debut album with which they impressed upon the ears of all, that they had superstar quality. On a project consisting strictly chefs-d’oeuvre, Adonko, Goosy Ganda and Big Dreams shone brightest, securing them an outstanding 11 nominations at the 2006 Ghana Music Awards: ‘Most Popular Song of the Year’, ‘Album Of the Year’, ‘Artiste of the Year’, ‘Best Male Vocal Performance’, ‘Hiplife Song of the Year, ‘Hiplife Album of the Year’, ‘New Hiplife Artiste of the Year’, ‘Hiplife Artiste of the Year’, ‘New Artiste of the Year’, ‘Songwriter of the Year’ and ‘Reggae song of the Year’, with Big Dreams picking up the laurel for “Reggae Song of the Year”.

To prove that they weren’t merely a flash in the pan, they followed up the successes of their debut with Kotosa (2008). If Kotosa isn’t their biggest song, it certainly is in the top 2. Also of majestic highlife punctuated with captivating saxophone placements as intro and interlude, Kotosa (produced by the Dansoman-based Appietus) is crafted specifically for a couple in love.

For the entirety of those six minutes, you can’t question that this is magic at play, for it entrances you like you’ve never experienced. Suddenly, your hands are wrapped around the swinging waistline of a certain Sitso, and your eyes are staring at the dots in hers, and a meaningful smile contours on your cheeks. Your foreheads are touching, and everything else fades into the background. Right at the point of the interlude, she turns around, so that her roundness sits in your crotch, never mind that you’re both standing.

Wutah, consisting Daniel Morris (Risky/ Wutah Kobby) and Frank Osei (PV, now Afriyie), who placed second to Praye at the 2005 edition of Nescafe Africa Revelation talent show, shared the same Mamprobi neighborhood, and who fused highlife and reggae in such a consummate manner, decided that they wanted to go their separate ways.

Nobody blames the pair (who were not nearly as successful when they each set out on solo careers, though it is important to mention that more that Afriyie better held the fort for the brand, considering his strides at the Ghana Music Awards, especially in the “Highlife” and “Best Male Vocalist of the Year” categories) for their 2009 split – creative differences (as was rumored among other things to be the reason) are serious business, and nothing lasts forever, in the end. But for them to do it during (potentially) the highest point of their career? That is why it was such a hard blow on all of us.

 

****

But they’re back. They seem to have lit the proverbial peace pipe, and the fire (which is what “Wutah” stands for in Hausa), is blazing again. “They are united to do music, so people should be happy,” their publicist Nana Kojoj Afreh told Citi Showbiz in May.

Even if it was a decent jam, AK47, the first single upon their rebirth, was released to mixed reviews. Produced by Ceedigh, it didn’t quite serve as the bang they anticipated. Not even an excellent summer video by Xpress Philms (released under Guru’s NKZ Music) seemed to have helped. Still, it’s a good joint, and should pick up eventually.

But Bronya? Bronya is their real comeback song. It is spreading like an inferno, and there are many viral videos of people singing along/dancing to the song to prove it. Like Nacee’s Boys Boys, it has also become an accepted street anthem, seeing how it so aptly summarises dominant attitudes of the masses. It speaks to their attentiveness as artists – be conscious of your environment!

The chorus translates loosely as “we wont wait till Christmas to have a drink”. Like Kofi Kinaata, (for Confession), and Nacee (for Boys Boys), credit must be given to Wutah for their ingenuity in packaging serious themes in tempting choruses. “they’re glorifying vanity”, moralists would posit, but really, Kinaata is cautioning against driving while drunk, Boys Boys emphasizes resilience in the face of adversity. Wutah submits a similar message, and play into an ongoing narrative of people having fun in spite of life’s many obstacles: “I’ll live in the moment; I’ll be happy for me. Things are hard — they’ve always been –but I’ll enjoy life regardless, I’ll appreciate the wealth that life is, every chance I get”. These are, in actuality, what the choruses in these songs symbolize. Clearly, these songs spark wider conversations than merely “alcohol music”.

The intro of Wutah’s Bronya may have been mined from Flavour’s Nwa Baby? That’s debatable, first of all, but also, specifically because Flavour is the artist in question, we don’t care. Why, Flavour may have more than mined the whole of Kotosa for Kwarikwa, which he has even recently remixed (featuring Congolese legend Awilo Logomba).

Bronya is also a great look for highlife, and a great case for the Takoradi-based Kindee, who is behind key highlife joints in this town today, especially his partnerships with Kofi Kinaata.

Bronya is highly melodious, but also straight to the point: 3 minutes and 20 seconds, 4 bars and then a chorus. Once you hear the chorus, you can’t wait to hear it again. This is obviously considered in the structuring of the song. It is also resplendent in its quintessence as original Ghanaian groove. It’s a new song, but it also feels old, specifically because of its gentle tempo, diction, as well as the particularly ethnic guitar strings which pilot it.

The adlibs, too, and how sentimentally they’re carried out … they feel like something from the 60s and 70s, and it is all brilliant in how they culminate into the magic words in which we are all pleased:

Yebro dada, yentwen bronya

Bronya forms part of a small sum of songs that both young and old folk can relate to, and therefore share a dance floor with.

And that is what the happy-me-happy-you song’s central theme of slapping affliction in the face, stands for. For two young men, the chance to do music all over again may have been mooted and lifted by a song whose mass choir chorus does more than just serving up society’s serious issues in a bottle of cognac.

What they actually end up producing, is a blazing fire called Wutah that brings Christmas forward six clear months before Santa comes home.

Listen to Bronya below

 

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“Revealed with Bola Ray” Gets Luxurious with Ike Le Starr in London

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Ikenna Ordor is a serial entrepreneur and luxury lifestyle purveyor. Business is his passion and you can’t visit London without somehow getting the Ike Le Starr treatment so it was only natural that the number one lifestyle travel show, Revealed With Bola Ray would pay a visit to Mr Ordor while we were in London. In between announcing the upcoming release of his autobiography and curating the spectacular Ghana versus Naija concert- Award winning international host, Bola Ray and the Revealed crew spent the day with Ike as he let us into his luxurious life. Ike spoke with 7th and Lotus about his day with Revealed. Check it out below.

 

Ike you managed to snag an episode on the number one lifestyle show in Africa. What about you intrigued the Revealed producers ? Tell us more about yourself?

My name is Ikenna Ordor and I own a luxury car rental company called Starr Luxury Cars. I also co-own a restaurant called View94 and am brand ambassador for Prosecco Casanova covering UK and West African markets. Last, but not least, I am also involved in a summer pop up event alongside DJ Cuppy which starts in June in the UK, with plans to extend throughout Europe and beyond.

When did you fall in love with the luxury life?

My love of luxury was ingrained in me from a young age. As a politicians son, I was afforded many luxuries during my childhood in Nigeria, even sleeping in a golden crib in my fathers compound. I came to London at age 14 and was quickly seduced by the Mayfair life and knew that this was the lifestyle for me.

What was it like being on Revealed with Bola Ray?

It was a pleasure to have the Revealed team with me for the day and to be interviewed by someone as accomplished as Bola Ray. I usually set up a base in central London during the week so that its easy for me to get to and from meetings. Typically I’d have a suite in The Montcalm where I can work between meetings, change outfits if I need to or get a quick rest if my schedule is particularly grueling. We visited my Tailor, Kabiru, who is based on Saville Row. 90% of my wardrobe is bespoke. I’m a simple guy, as is my style. I am almost always wearing a blazer, no matter the occasion and so it needs to be tailored to fit me impeccably.

The Revealed team also followed me to Novikov to meet with Salvatore, the general manager as they exclusively stock the most expensive bottle of prosecco in the world (rrp £3950) which of course happens to be Prosecco Casanova. Luxury tends to be synonymous with exclusivity. This is something I believe in as Luxury in itself and what it means to the individual will never be the same from person to person. With this in mind, I have applied this to Starr Luxury cars, and revealed my plans to launch a fully bespoke luxury Monaco Sprinter fleet. These sprinters will only be available via Starr Luxury Cars. Viewers will get an exclusive look at this luxury vehicle on the show. Other revelations? I am currently in the process of buying the rights for Africa for Bardou hairstyling and cosmetics.My background is rooted in hospitality and nightlife. It has always been my dream to own my own club or bar. I am currently looking into purchasing a club in Mayfair which I hope to launch in the summer of 2018.

Tune in to Revealed With Bola Ray Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m on GHOne live, GHOne Facebook, DSTV Fiesta TV 329. Revealed is created and presented by Bola Ray. London Edition: Producers: Emeline Nsingi-Nkosi, Assistant Producer: Abesi Manyando, Executive Assistant/Production Manager Laillah Crystal Banda, Scripting and V.O. Lerato Letsoso/Emeline Nsingi-Nkosi – Editor: Jojo Asabir Camera Op: Vyrus.

Credit: huffingtonpost

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A Sergeant’s revival, Irish Skirts & a ‘Falz’ Impression – 2017 Ghana Meets Naija – A REVIEW

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It’s a grim picture, what we are beholding this very moment. Laying still on a gurney in a dark theatre is a soldier. He appears to have been shot. An oxygen mask covers his nose, and on a monitor behind is the haunting sound of his ebbing heartbeat. Surrounding him are a team of doctors wrestling time, and family who observe restlessly. Surgical accoutrements sink in and out of his dying body: a stethoscope, clamps, forceps, scalpels. A well-decorated warrior, his toughness is unquestionable. But this bullet seems to be one against his will.

A spastic rhythm now emanates from the monitor. This is not good. “We’re losing him,” cries a desperate voice. “Work faster…work faster!”

Blood-stained hands pound at his chest in an attempt to keep him alive.

His breath sounds slow down steadily, and finally ceases. The frantic spikes on the screen are replaced by a single flat line. He’s gone.

One by one, comrades Joint 77, Captan, and Addi Self beckon him to return, but there’s no response.

And then, all of a sudden, the hero springs up to thunderous cheers, holding on to his one true weapon – a cordless microphone.

“Holy holy holy, man – a still holy,” he roars, backed by close to three thousand animated voices. These words from his moving 2015 anthem “Kill Em Wif Prayers” reverberate across every corner of the Accra International Conference Center. The energy Shatta Wale (who is now leaping everywhere on the stage) invokes on this momentous evening, and how he maintains it for something like an hour, is one for the gods.

***

Essentially, single-handedly, the “Taking Over” man rescued the night from Nigerian compatriots as Falz, Tiwa Savage, and turntablist DJ Obi, who clearly had taken a comfortable lead with performances on that prestigious Ghana Meets Naija stage. Even African superstar Davido, the closing act, required a bit of Shatta’s oomph; he cleverly negotiated his entrée, singing his verse of Shatta’s “Whine Your Waist”. It is no wonder that he (Shatta Wale) was crowned king on the night.

Born Charles Nii Armah Mensah, Shatta Wale’s heroic performance last Saturday is why he has been on the stage for five years on the trot, and further testament to why he has stayed at the very pinnacle of Ghanaian music for as many years (or more) as he has headlined Ghana Meets Naija, VGMA or not.  An unparalleled charisma, no-nonsense lifestyle, tested street credibility, and consistently zealous work culture culminating into frequent hit releases, have ensured that his acclaim has spread far and wide. “We dey drop hit songs each and every year,” he sings in “Don’t Try”. There’s hardly any dispute there. From “Dancehall King” to “Shatta City”, “Chop Kiss” to “Mahama Paper”, “Kakai” to “Take Over”, this man has influenced the playlist at our fetes more than any of his contemporaries. That is beyond amazing. On the night, Shatta Wale also performed well-liked songs from an inexhaustible catalogue as  “Low Tempo” (featuring wife Shatta Michy) “Enter the Net”, “Cocoa Season”, “If I Collect”, “Say Fi”, “Obodorbidi”, “Hosanna”, “Ayoo” among others.

RELATED: Sports cars, Jollof, fur coats & Mama Boss Papa – The 7th Ghana Meets Naija – A PREVIEW

This is the 7th year for the regularly overbooked show. It has also proved to be the biggest. Ghana Meets Naija has, since inception, excellently served as a platform to celebrate music from the two West African countries. It is put together by showbiz guru Bola Ray’s Empire, and is widely deemed the most influential concert on the sub-region. And why not? Acts which have graced the stage over the years have remained strictly A-list: Mr Eazi, Eugy, R2Bees, Wizkid, Naeto C, The MAVINS (led by Don Jazzy), Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, KCee, M.I, Samini, Kwaw Kese, Guru, 4×4, Timaya and a host of others.

Lil Win

Though the night belonged to Shatta, a number of other performances deserve mention – like Kwadwo Nkansah Lilwin (celebrated Kumawood comic and musician), whose performance, too, was met with eruptive cheers. His record, “Mama Boss Papa” is, after all, among the most spun tunes on radio right now. When he promised in an interview to give off his best performance yet, it wasn’t just smooth talk. Opting for a chequered Irish skirt in his 3-piece suit, it was clear he was there for more than merely a good impression. “Mama Boss Papa” made lunatics of all present, especially when intermittently, he would lift his skirt to expose red leggings, or fellow comic actor Akrobeto charging unto the stage in a surprise appearance. Lil Win’s set was thoroughly entertaining, and will linger on the smiling cheeks of patrons for years.

MAVIN diva Tiwa Savage also made a mark with her act. Equipped with a classic pizzazz, sultry voice, and a set of steamy dancers in flowery island costume, she poured forth an infectious vim which equaled (perhaps surpassed) most of her male counterparts on the night.

It is important to leave while the applause is loudest, and analysts say that she may have performed a song too many. Still, it hardly takes from the top-notch performance of the RED singer, who recently inked a management deal with Jay Z’s ROC Nation. A unique entrée, vivacious choreography, impressive song choices, and overall energy level did the magic for the mother of one.

Tiwa Savage

“Soft Work” rapper Falz, too, who clearly understood the dynamics of gigs thus: this is the battlefield, this is a war. And so, fire dancers cleared the stage for him, and his name was announced by the dominant baritone of an imposing hype man. It was the perfect way to set the stage for the BET and AMVCA laureate. And what better song to kick things off than spraying from his artillery, the mighty “Clap”. Featuring colleague Reminisce, it is among the brightest points of his sophomore studio album “Stories that Touch”, which ranks among top African works of 2015 for the critical impact of records as “Karishika”, “Celebrity Girlfriend”, “Soldier”, and “Ello Bae”. Falz is set to release his third album later this year. It will be big, judging by recent releases as “Weidone Sah”, and “Baby Boy”, which we anticipate to end up on the album.

Rule 2 of a stage as big as Ghana Meets Naija is to invoke dance. Falz is a party technician, so he dispatched this instruction too expertly, even topping it with his rib-cracking specialised English “azzent”.

This “Bahd” performance ended with his collaboration with Davido and Olamide. The crafty title, which acknowledges the aliases of all three featured acts on the song, also comes in handy in summarising his time on stage: “Bahd, Baddo, Baddest”.

Falz

Ghana’s M.anifest, who came right after Falz, managed a perfect balance between a performance to be listened to, and one to be danced to. Described as a classic presentation which confounded critics and delighted purists,” it saw the “god MC” commendably shuffled between live instrumentation and the skillful fingers of DJ Keyzuz.

On stage for about half an hour, the left-of-center performance made him a top trend on social media. As is characteristic of him lately, the night was not all about him, for he was joined by the talented Worlasi for “100%”, and up-and-coming rap act Kwesi Arthur, who made a bold statement with his “Prekese” freestyle over American singer Future’s “Mask Off”.

M.anifest

M.anifest is among a handful of artists who have achieved commercial success not by conforming to popular trends and methods, but strictly on his own terms. It is what he reiterates in his latest single, released soon after Ghana Meets Naija 2017, and featuring singer Big Ben – “make you leave me make I do my own”, the song demands in Pidgin.

Tema-based B4bonah, Article Wan, Kuami Eugene, Ko-jo Cue, King Promise, Tee Phlow, DJ Switch, and the gothic Eno, all rendered impressive accounts of themselves as supporting acts. DJs on the night, led by Starr FM’s Nii Ayi Tagoe also kept energies at a constant high with rich and timely selections across a wide spectrum of genres.

Ko-jo Cue

Tee Phlow

DJ Switch

Davido’s set was straightforward, yet very potent. At this point in his career, the mere sight of him causes uproar. He mounted the the stage with a glowing playlist he has racked up since first mounting the Ghana Meets Naija stage in 2012. On this particular night though, it was all about one song: “If”. Now, don’t be mistaken, the crowd bellowed along to every song he performed – “Dami Duro”, “Skelewu”, “Aye”, “The Money” etc. But “If”, is what it all came down to. For when DJ Obi cued it in, it was nothing short of chaotic. Word for word, patrons thundered out the lyrics to this brilliant highlife number, which is turning out to be the biggest of his career. A million covers have flooded the internet, including from global R&B icon R. Kelly.  Accompanying visuals to the record have been over 17 million times on YouTube alone. Davido called his Ghana Meets Naija 2017 appearance “emotional” in a tweet afterwards. If you were there in the auditorium on May 27, or have seen any of the numerous videos of his performance via social media, there’s no question about it.

Davido

The Accra International Conference Centre was graced, not just by regular folk, but by some of the most important stakeholders in Ghanaian entertainment, sports and business: Renowned broadcasters KKD and KOD, Yasmin Behzadi (international fashion icon and co-creator of Sark Collection), MUSIGA president Bice Osei Kuffour (Obour), EIB boss Bola Ray, The Ayew brothers Dede and Jordan, Confidence Haugen, Footballer Daniel Opare, Kwabena Duffuor II (MD, uniBank) etc.

This year (like the ones before), the concert did live up to the hype, and as usual, received widespread praise for how professionally it was put up.  This year also represents a major milestone in the Ghana Meets Naija franchise as plans are far advanced to stage a UK version come August 25 at the famous O2 Arena. A Dubai leg is also reportedly in the works.

*Ghana Meets Naija 2017 is powered by Empire Ghana and proudly sponsored by uniBank’s Smile and Mastercard products, Alomo Gold-Natural Herbs and Fruits, Paba Cosmetics, Tang Palace Hotel, Nasco Mobile, Kasi Express, 7Fold, Emerge Ghana and Maaha Beach Resort and ENEWSGH.COM.

More images:

Photo Credit: Kwabena Awuku, Frozzen Second, Vine Imagery, Twinsdntbeg.

 

 

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