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 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