Connect with us

Reviews & Interviews

BOOK REVIEW: Of Etsey Atisu’s “Epistles to My Bubune”

Published

on

Starting out a couple of years ago as simple thoughts to his partner, Etsey Atisu’s column Epistles to My Bubune swiftly became manna across much of Ghanaian social media. So that, every time he submitted a new missive, it was pounced upon like vultures would a carcass.

It is not exactly surprising that the essays were widely embraced, judging by Etsey’s clout on Facebook–even if they were intended for a sole audience. But more than that, their impact was due to what they addressed, as well as the style they were rendered in. Sometimes, it would take months for a new letter to arrive, but the internet waited fervently, confident that each new installment was pregnant with realistic arguments for the contemporary love affair. Affection stories evolve with every generation, and so it is important to be afforded accurate perspectives on dealing with love in Facebook era.  Testimonies from our elders are indispensable, but so are Etsey-esque accounts.

Epistles to My Bubune consists nearly forty articles naturally and intrepidly collected by Atisu’s gifted hands. And while it is expected of him as an Ewe man to possess superior audacity, the courage that is evident in the book oozes from a special depth: honesty. When we speak the truth, we shall fear no evil.

And so he takes on the weighty as well as the trite, sidestepping all political correctness: homosexuality, fashion, tiffs, spirituality, fears, death…even the dimples that have earned him the alias “Freshie” are explored in this compelling read.

Epistles to My Bubune is the picture of young love: foolishly hopeful and drenched in youthful zeal. At the same time, it feels like one which has taken on several decades and emerged prevailed. That a man –anybody south of 30 years can invoke this unique dualism is striking –again, not necessarily because he’s an Ayigbe man. Etsey is talented and committed to writing in a way that is probably not healthy. This may be his first book, but he could well submit another one by Sunday, and three more within a fortnight. Indeed, a key reason for his growing influence is the fact that, with one toe over the next, he pens long thoughtful odes to anyone who has even slightly been acquainted to him. Once more this “hobby” of his is significant in our dispensation because it restores hope in our capabilities as millennials to care for something/someone other than applications on smartphones. Today, birthday wishes have been reduced to mere emoticons, single hash tags and the exceedingly clichéd one-line post “happy birthday” –or its irksome abbreviation “hbd”. Obviously, these are intended more for the records than anything. Thankfully, this generation can boast of one person who aims for the heart. This is what it comes down to –humanity! Etsey typifies humanity.

“Bubune” translates from Ewe as “reverence to the almighty”. Let’s talk about that for a second. The book is strewn with verses from the Holy Bible –unapologetic reference to his faith as a Christian. Like his affection for the beautiful “Bubune”, his relationship with God is not something he is prepared or inclined to hide.

“I don’t see myself marrying anybody else except you but it is not a “do or die” affair. Everything I am doing now is geared towards that life with you and it is not to satisfy some public stunt or charade but because I feel it is right for me.”

As is the experience on each page of the book, lines as the ones above are deeply affective. It is the ambition of everyone on the quest for love to be able to utter such words. Love cannot be all you find in this life, but if you do, guard it with keenness. Etsey deserves commendation because he has valiantly mustered these words…in public. This fairytale with pretty Bubune (whom he has been courting for nearly three years) will work –and it must, because it is founded on honesty.

“I’ve always wanted that because you make me happy” reads another extract. “You can be a little difficult nut to crack but you still make me happy. And even when it seems impossible to please you, you still make me happy because you understand that we are in this relationship with only one goal – till the end”, it further reads.

Till the end!

“Epistles to My Bubune” may have started out as routine documentation of his journey with his journey with his partner, but it applies to everyone:

“…it is about simple and everyday issues that break or bind relationships, written in simple diction but with deep messages for the reader, especially young people in relationships”, observes ace journalist and fellow writer Manasseh Azure Awuni.

“…Etsey never lets go, as he explores, discusses, explains, and ruminates on the issues ranging from the mundane to the insane nsempisms that are germane to his relationship with his beloved Bubune. In the end, one cannot help but admire the love and openness shared with Bubune, and by extension, the reader, profiting much thereby”, renowned author Nana Awere Damoah also opines about the work.

And as these two are among our foremost Ghanaian scribes today, their words are powerful testaments to the quality of the work rendered by Atisu.

What gives all art its power is the willingness of the artist to go far into himself…how prepared he is to harness his own vulnerability. When we read Epistles, we feel the very sentiments Etsey is feeling as he pens his paragraphs –they are true to us as they are to him. That is what gives this work its profoundly trait of communal ownership…that is why it is unputdownable.

 

See first images from the launch:

Comments

Music

#ENEWSGHPlaylist: Total cheats, Born ONE virgins and a ‘One Corner’ madness – Top songs of 2017

Published

on

2017 belongs to Swedru native and One Corner man Patapaa Amisty as much as it belongs to Stonebwoy, or Ebony, or  Bronya duo Wutah. Richie Mensah’s Lynx Entertainment may have enjoyed their biggest year in a while, and Shatta Wale maintains his grip atop the pile in many respects.

Here’s our list of top songs for the year.

  1. One Corner – Patapaa (ft. Loyalty and Ras Cann)

One morning in September, the country woke up to a viral video of Swedru-based Patapaa Amisty (known privately as Justice Amoah) performing One Corner at this year’s Akwambo Festival. The profound insanity exhibited in the footage startled and charmed the nation all at once. Beneath the stage, in the presence of the elderly, on the streets, in gutters, and practically everywhere else, bewitched fans partook of the craze mainly by thrusting their groins at whatever was in front of them (animate or not)  as you would during coitus.

And with that, One Corner became a phenomenon, sweeping across West Africa and beyond at the rate of wildfires during harmattan. Celebrities and regular folk alike were not left out of the frenzy, and posted online their versions to both admiration and aversion.  Wherever you stand on the relevance of the song, it is a momentous point for culture. It is the biggest song this year has offered, prominent among internet trends for 2017, and announced Patapaa in grand style. Patapaa may never release another song of this magnitude, but no one can take way his place this year.

  1. Taking Over – Shatta Wale (ft. Captan, Addi Self & Joint 77)

“We dey drop hit song each and every year”, sings dancehall star Shatta Wale in Don’t Try (2016). That statement is hardly an exaggeration. This year too, Shatta Wale has reigned supreme, publishing over 100 songs and headlining the biggest shows.

Produced by Willis Beats Taking Over features SM militants Captan, Addi Self, and Joint 77, and ranks highest among submissions from his camp, and the biggest songs of 2017. Accompanying visuals to the song, published on YouTube back in March, have been viewed over 5.5 million times.

 

  1. Forgetti – Shatta Wale ft. SM Millitants, Pope Skinny, & Natty Lee

Typically, the controversial act’s 2017 success story is also proven with more than a single hit. Forgetti, also featuring his militants Captan, Addi Self, and Joint 77,  as well as SM associates Pope Skinny and Natty Lee, is another song with which the singer has held his place as “dancehall landlord”.

Low Tempo, Freedom, Ayoo, Umbrella,Dem Confuse, Bumper, Hosanna also constitute in-demand offerings from his camp.

Forgetti is also produced by Willis Beats.

 

  1. My Name – Stonebwoy

An uplifting dancehall tune, ZYLOFON act Stonebwoy’s My Name places him in the first-tier of musicians from the country. Riding over Armz House Records’ Forever Riddim, the singer sermonises with gripping charm, the eagerness of people to share in a one’s achievements though they are usually absent at the beginning of his journey.

A BET laureate and recipient of several other awards, Stonebwoy (Livingstone Satekla) just released Epistles of Mama, his fourth studio project after Grade 1, Necessary Evil, and Livingstone.

  1. Bronya – Wutah

With Bronya, the second single after reuniting as a group, the Ghanaian duo comprising Frank Osei (Wutah Afriyie) and Daniel Morris (Wutah Kobby) swiftly reclaimed their spot in the first rank. Conveyed via nostalgic highlife, the song set the tone for Christmas hysteria several months before it finally arrived.

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

Again, with the KinDee -produced joint, Wutah distinguish themselves as perhaps, the one group capable of staging a real comeback.

  1. My Own – Samini

The DJ Frass-made reggae classic is reminiscent of typical Samini, and lends credence to his longevity as an artist. Afrobeats pretty much dictated the sounds from these parts. The Wa native however, proves that he can challenge the trend and still triumph. He did it with “Music Man”, “My Kind of Girl”, “Odo”, “Where My Baby Dey” among others. So ultimately, it is not necessarily surprising.

My Own is a beautiful narrative of a love that has fully blossomed in the face of great challenges. For his effort on this number, the MOBO winner is in a comfortable lead for “Reggae Song of the Year”, many hold.

  1. Total Cheat – Fancy Gadam

If we entertained any misgivings that the Tamale titan truly deserved the crown of VGMA Best New Artist this year, Fancy Gadam has served us with conclusive evidence. His Gadam Nation tour across principal towns in the country has  attracted droves, and Total Cheat, his brilliant partnership with Sarkodie, has held its own against even more “established” acts.

Off his Mujahid album, the record (produced by Killbeatz) has been truly embraced on radio and on the streets, and helped him truly impress his name in our minds as a “Nation Champion”.

  1. Jennifer Lomotey – Kurl Songx

1st runner-up of Vodafone Icons – Street Edition (2013) and 2016 winner of MTN Hitmaker, Kurl Songx (now signed to Kaywa’s Highly Spiritual Music) reintroduced himself with incendiary pizzazz. Jennifer Lomotey is one of three offerings from him this year, also the most memorable.

The song courted nationwide controversy for a line in featured act Sarkodie’s verse suggesting that women from the Ada tribe are promiscuous, but as is a feature of many Ghanaian scandals, that too has evaporated into thin air.

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

The song is a masterly highlife jam, and is designed to abide –thanks to production genius displayed by Kaywa. A determined vocal technician, Songx belongs to the Class of 2017, and Jennifer Lomotey, together with his recent Feeling, should serve as sufficient fuel for him come 2018.

  1. Boys Boys – Nacee ft. Guru

Boys Boys is a product of sheer musical command and artistic versatility. Since his entry into the industry  man-years ago, Nacee has perpetually refused to be boxed, participating in music of various bends, but remaining with his core message of inspiration.

REVIEW: ‘Boys Boys’ – Nacee Feat. GURU

The chorus of the song is a double-edged sword –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 ensured him a place among top songs of 2017.

  1. Angela – Kuami Eugene

Lynx Entertainment act and MTN Hitmaker alumnus Kuami Eugene has had the year of his life without question. A talented singer -songwriter and producer, he has worked with sought-after names including Shatta Wale, and label mate KiDi. He has also received praise from greats as Sarkodie.

Produced by Killbeatz, Angela is a bona fide 2017 hit. It is a staple at weddings, parties and across various media.  It has earned him a spot on some of the biggest stages (most recently, Starr FM’s S Concert which recorded attendance in excess of 40, 000).  The accompanying video to the song has been seen nearly 2 million times on YouTube alone.

  1. Odo -KiDi

Singer KiDi is further evidence of Lynx Entertainment’s enormous contribution to Ghana music this year.  It is not alien of the label as it has churned out hits via Asem, OJ Blaq, Ziggy, Eazzy, Irene Logan, label boss Richie Mensah, and MzVee. But this year’s success is truly of a whole new scale.

Also an MTN Hitmaker graduate, KiDi’s Odo, one of two 2017 submissions from him, elevated him to the position of resident loverboy. Self-produced, the song has (among other things) secured him notice, and a remix appearance from Afrobeats superstar Davido.

  1. Leg Over – Mr Eazi

Innovator of the Banku Music sub-genre of Afrobeats, Mr. Eazi has remained stealth in his dealings. We never see him coming, until he is right in our faces. Leg Over, off his Accra to Lagos mixtape, is one of Africa’s biggest songs.

Produced by Nigerian producer E -Kelly, it is a glowing addition to a playlist of songs via which Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade ( as he is privately know) has proven himself master of soft sentiments. On YouTube, the video to the tune has recorded over 26 million views.

   12. VIDEO: Bo Noo Ni – Joe Mettle ft. Luigi Maclean

Joe Mettle’s Bo Noo Ni (No one Else), off his 2017 live album God of Miracles made strong case for him as reigning VGMA Artist of the Year, and the Gospel fraternity in general.

Released on September 12, the compelling worship number features talented emerging singer and protégé Luigi Maclean.

    13. Ladder – Lil Win ft. Odehyie Ba

Kwadwo Nkansah Lil Win is a household name as a comic actor, but is also fast-cementing himself as a respected musician. With a growing number of certified hits under his belt (and for his June 2017 song Ladder), Lil Win’s name cannot be ignored in a list thus.

Inspired by Agnes Iro’s “Follow The Ladder”, Lil Win’s Ladder, professes a message parallel to Agnes’, cautioning against carnal behaviour, and charging all to remain focused on the Lord.

      14.  Poison – Ebony ft. Gatdoe

What a year 2017 has proven for the “90s bad girl ” Ebony (Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng). Like Shatta Wale, the RuffTown act has been pivotal in GH music this year. And though her approach has usually been met with reproach, there’s no debate that she has remained a hit machine.

Poison set things off for the sultry singer (who is widely-tipped to unseat Joe Mettle as VGMA Artist of the Year in 2018). Produced by B2, the song –of highlife build, spread quickly due to her clever use of the Twi language, and her overall vocal grace.

    15.  Sponsor – Ebony

Poison was followed-up by Sponsor –an impish narrative of a young girl navigating modern–day love. What is the place of money in the equation? What is the place of love? What is the place of sex?

   16. Date Your Fada – Ebony

Programmed by Danny Beatz, Date Your Fada is undisguised warning at the boy who dares cause her heartbreak. “If you break my heart I go date your father. You gonna be my son; you go call me your mother.”), she threatens, very much aware of her ammunition.

The song may be the most couragious any Ghanaian act has been in years, and the flair with which she has managed to heap up traction in her favour specifically with this message will confound connoisseurs for years to come.

17.  Hustle – Ebony ft. Brella

Released a month ago, Ebony’s Hustle themed on the daily struggle for survival, but again,  due to her  craftiness with the wording which constitutes the chorus, it suggests something rather lewd.

A zestful jam also produced by Danny Beats, it features label mate Brella, and sits comfortably among greatest hits of 2017.

Her year was crowned with the release of her debut CD BONYFIED, outdoored to thousands at the West Hills Mall days ago, and the release of Maame Hwɛ, an iconic revival of the domestic violence debate, which has swiftly shot up all valid trends online. What a run!

 

18. Obi Agyi Obi Girl – Captain Planet ft. Kofi Kinaata

4×4 member Captain Planet (Sylvanus Dodji Jeoffrey) finally secures a nationwide hit as a solo act after several tries. Enlisting Fante rapper Kofi Kinaata on the witty Mix Masta Garzy joint, Captain Planet explores the woes of losing one’s boyfriend/ girlfriend to another.

Comments
Continue Reading

Long Reads

Abuse, Violence & A CALL TO ACTION – Ebony’s ‘Maame Hwɛ’ – A REVIEW

Published

on

Ebony’s talent is pure. It rests peacefully in a young lady whose patterns of stitched bravado and decisive artistic flexibility is causing so much pain to hostile souls, who are yet to come to terms with the fact that she is what they failed to achieve in their 20s.

Maame Hwɛ, a new effort off the 2017 Bonyfied debut, is her way of bringing back discussions about her ‘uprightness’ into focus – Intimidation, abuse et al – that have been kept rootless in the loins and sorry palms of a society at war with itself over what stand to take against women.

Away from repeated, boring lines of gender-driven advocacy, Maame Hwɛ is also not the everyday Kofi ne Ama muddled social media lines of who is best at catcalling; it is a reminder and call to action that readily exposes the schism that exists thereof, and for all to join the fight against any form of abuse.

Maame Hwɛ is a theme so distant from Hustle, her muffled booty call hit song of one-month old. Here, there are urgent matters of the heart that are addressed while complications that thread along oppression and freedom are also visibly exorcised. But it is her flawless handling that sets the tone for a song that is so infectious and enthralling. In all its beauty.

Takoradi-based Willis Beatz threw his might on Maame hwɛ. There are no surprises here – he continues to prove the fine talent he has become; Ayesem’s Koti of recent radio and YouTube memory, full proof. Maame Hwɛ is a long road of multiple contraction but has the beautifully-worn Willis Beatz percussion – loitering all over the song – to aid its flow. All through, she sustains listener-inquest and gets the needed attention – same feature she’s been used to all year.

Drummy, the lull-beats for Maame Hwɛ are virgin and soulful, they track their way back to an ever willing breakneck audible controller, who sings her way through a difficult topic with ease. The vocal delivery is amped-up within, and at the extreme margins, too, so well that even the constant regretful, mournful notes of Maame Hwɛ find resting place on the edges of a composition so rough and inconvenient in subject matter but charming in total body of work.

Consistently, the winning module for Ebony is the song writing that serves a fitting guide to her compositions. It has been the most visible part of her 2017 releases, and readily shows how much of an investment (time) has gone into ensuring that she stays relevant. A stronger testament of what two worlds of song writing does to a young soul’s delivery, there are traces of Bullet, label head at Ruff Town, who is doing an impressive work co-penning/penning some of the priceless songs they have both gone to market with. Bullet (Ricky Nana Agyemang) is an old cat with an astonishing sense of how to make hit songs. His glorious days with the duo Ruff & Smooth churned a lot of anthems that went on the same path Ebony is enjoying now. His song writing credentials are broad and all over the local music scene, Nana Yaa, Pat Thomas’ daughter, a recent beneficiary. Ebony has the complete song writing effort at Ruff Town/Midas Touch Inc. to thank but it is how she also renders the songs in-studio and in front of thousands such as at her recent solo concert in the national capital, Accra, that brings out the stunning artistic beast in her. They are new every morning.

Ebony opens Maame Hwɛ by registering her dislike for a bully and goes on a line about shame and not listening to a mother’s advice hence the subsequent viciousness she suffers. Maame Hwɛ is renewed remembrance of bad pain. The underlining logs are not just frank and bold, but also straightforward in their summation.

On Maame Hwɛ, all arguments about versatility are overwhelmed. If Kupe, Poison, Sponsor, Date Ur Fada, and Turn on the Light were pearls, this is Ebony to a whole new echelon. She came good in the Prince Dovlo-directed video for the song, too, opting for a look that is very adult and serious – staying in character.

For a song whose context is made known right from the beginning – about how abusers dwell on oppression to their gain – It digs into a plot about how cold it is not to conquer any form of abuse, domestic or not.

Maame Hwɛ is a dream song. It is yet, the musician’s most poignant statement in two years while it is also a celebration of the works of ailing Ghanaian musician Jewel Ackah. Ebony references Ackah’s decades-old classic Bɔdambɔ Bɔdambɔ in an uplifting way. Ebony is queen of modern day referencing, which is also doing the trick for KiDi, Kuami Eugene and Stonebwoy hype man and up-and-comer Kelvyn Boy (Oheneba Kissi on the latest Na You). On Maame Hwɛ, Ebony merges a well-ordered carousel of magical, old and new school Bɔdambɔ Bɔdambɔ inspiration that oozes goose bumps – the kind made in Axim, where Ackah was born.

Maame Hwɛ is a significant push for her young career and a huge vote of confidence in what she calls a trade. By the first quarter of 2018, she will dominate conversations around major award shows. Bullet says she has been a blessing to him. He is right. She has been a blessing to a growing music industry. She has been a blessing to the many young females, looking for that single opportunity to show what they can do. It is always okay to skip school to pursue that desire. Ebony has shown the way.

Maame Hwɛ ends the same way it begins. Aren’t how all stories of abuse end?

Tracklist for Bonyfied (Released under Ruff Town Records/Midas Touch Inc.)

*Aseda

*Dance floor

*Kupe

*Poison feat Gatdoe

*Sponsor

*Date Ur Fada

*Maame Hw3

*Hustle feat Brella

*Haters Anthem

*Turn on the Light

*Shade

*Twerk

*Ediot

*Scream

*Real

*Confusion

Video screenshots supplied by MiPROMO, managers of Ebony’s YouTube Channel.

Comments
Continue Reading

Long Reads

Oh What a ‘Mighty Jesus’ … Edem serves bold Hiphop dish

Published

on

“You think you walking on this path alone? You think everything you do is by yourself? Oh no! You best give all glory to God…Jesus Christ, our lord and savior. He walks with us all now. Talk to me now” blurts an animated preacher to all within the sound of his voice.

 Directed by Pascal AKA, the accompanying video for Mighty Jesus, Edem’s latest joint, is characterized by astonishing quality. It is set in a large church with beaming choristers in long robes, practiced hands guiding bows up and down violin strings, a hundred lit candles outlining a crucifix-shaped white isle on the floor, as well as other striking artistic and cultural placements depicting the victory of God over evil.

Four seconds shy of four minutes, the video, off his forthcoming fourth album The African Answer, is rendered entirely in black and white, and adds to a radiant collection of visuals with which the rapper (born Denning Edem Hotor and previously trading by the stage name “Ayigbe Edem”) continually distinguishes himself as a worthy name to be associated with poetry and melody. Since his breakout single Bougez (You Dey Craze), the Dzodze native has methodically cemented himself in hiplife/hip-hop circles – and Ghanaian music in general – as a true revolutionary. The 2009 video opens with a powerful pronouncement: “Hiplife is back…”. That statement was indisputable then as it is now, for Edem was anointed by the one outfit possessing the audacity to make a pronouncement thus: the Last Two Music Group. Headed by veteran producer Da’ Hammer (whose work on Obrafour’s Pae Mu Ka album a decade prior has yet to be matched), the imprint is responsible for the careers of majority of reputable hiplife acts the country has seen. And over the years, Edem has lived up to the billing, serving as easily the Volta’s most influential name in music.

Mighty Jesus, like The One, or Heyba, is superb in how it embodies Edem’s identity and creative outlook. Though influenced by elements from without (including Caribbean tempos and code-switching lingua) the VRMG front man has remained genuine to his ancestry – always ensuring that he leaves traces of his heritage in his craft. Be it in language, rhythm, or via visual representation, Edem has permanently exhibited a commitment to his uniqueness. 

 Church, did you know the Lord is undefeated? One million and o, one billion and o, infinity and o. Can’t nobody stop Him, so don’t you dare try. You better testify…

 With the not so mainstream medium that is the Ewe language, the Koene man has remained resolute in his goals, dispatching  the Ghanaian mission blamelessly, and now setting his sights on proving himself as “the African answer”. Hip-hop across the continent is currently at a dicey phase in history: on one hand, it remains popular despite the global annexation of Afrobeats/Afropop. Sarkodie, Olamide, AKA, Kaligraph Jones, Nasty C, M.anifest,  (fundamentally hip-hop brands), rank among highly sought-after acts from the continent. South African rapper Cassper Nyovest has, since 2015, filled up stadiums across the country – the latest being his monumental concert at the FNB Stadium in Soweto. Drawing close to 70,000 hip-hop disciples to the arena, it becomes the biggest ever witnessed in the nation, even beating numbers recorded by American superstars Rihanna and Justin Bieber during their dates in SA.

Drawing close to 70,000 hip-hop disciples to the arena, Nyovest’s show becomes the biggest ever witnessed in the nation, even beating numbers recorded by American superstars Rihanna and Justin Bieber during their dates in SA.

On the other hand, elders in the game (most prominently, Nigerian rapper Jude “MI” Abaga) have registered their displeasure at the ethic of many a contemporary Nigerian rapper. In You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives, MI laments that he, in the twilight of his career, must return periodically to sanitize the terrain as the younger generation is doing a poor job at upholding hip-hop’s true essence. Nigeria is an essential contributor to music on the continent. That, coupled with MI’s influence over the genre in Africa, makes his sentiments on You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives impossible to gloss over.

There requires someone who will restore in the likes of MI, faith that African hip-hop is safe. That is why Mighty Jesus, and indeed The African Answer, are so timely. Produced by American hip-hop doyen Coptic, the song is a blistering way to kick this new phase of his career off. Mighty Jesus sees Edem (as usual) display finesse and balance expected only of masters in navigating their environment. Founded on church organs, violins, a militant drum pattern, and passionate melody of an electric guitar toward the end, the arrangement is speckled intermittently with arresting cries of “Mighty Jesus”.

Hip-hop is defined by nerve. At the same time, it is guided by sincerity. Nerve to stake your claim as the very best, and sincerity to admit that you depend on a higher force. Hip-hop requires that you show yourself as a titan, but also to admit to your vulnerabilities. Pascal AKA conveys this compellingly in the scene in which a mother clutches desperately to her baby, afraid of fiends waiting to strike, but who are obstructed by the protective screen that shields her.

I feel the electricity right now, cause the electricity is coming from the only power source that I know…the only battery in my back – Jesus Christ.

 Since Bougez, and though he gets little credit for it, Edem has portrayed superior tact, and proven a true visionary regarding whom he assembles for his songs. Having chalked massive underground success via witty fast-paced freestyles, Sarkodie needed a joint to properly introduce him to the mainstream. Bougez is practically the song that opened the doors for the SarkCess CEO.  Another record, Oleey, is a principal reference in arguing that Gemini ranks among prized lyricists of his generation. Also featuring Sarkodie, the song portrays GH rap at its finest. The trio stun the listener not only by the dizzying pace of their rap, but by the content of their verses too. Both Oleey and Bougez rest comfortably among hip-hop classics of the 21st Century. He does something similar in Mighty Jesus, recruiting Ghanaian rap vertebrae Jayso and EL.

 Mighty Jesus is iconic for hip-hop in the country both sonically and visually. Again, like The One and Heyba, it serves both as a testament to authentic rap from these parts, and blueprint to young ones looking for a proven path.

 “See, what I’m trying to tell you is, in the end of days, in that final game, in that final super bowl of life and death, you better make sure you’re on the right team –and that team is with the lord and savior Jesus Christ. You ain’t get no do –overs…”

 The verification that Edem has come full circle is displayed in how videos for Heyba and Mighty Jesus end. In the final frame of Heyba (directed by Phamous Philms) Edem, after stomping gallantly through the ghostly milieu designed through adept camera maneuvers and miraculous graphic sleights, hoists a microphone symbolically high above his head …high above the earth. King.

 In Mighty Jesus, he joins his hands prayerfully before his bowed head. “I’m still the revelation, but I dey my Genesis.”

A new era!  

 A multiple-award-winner, Edem is author of critically received albums as Volta Regime, Mass Production, and Books and Rhymes, as well as numerous singles including Ghetto Arise, Bra Fremi Fremi, Nyedzilo,Kpordawoe, Wicked and Bad, Gogaga among others.

“The African Answer” is due for release in 2018.

Watch “Mighty Jesus” below: 

Comments
Continue Reading

Events & Places

Possessed disciples, ‘Freedom’ chants, & an intemperate god … GADAM IT! – The 2017 ‘S Concert’

Published

on

Friday December 1, 2017

 

Anadwo 10 o’clock –Accra Sports Stadium (GA-111-8662): A vigorous wave has now taken charge of the realm. It has been building up steadily for three or four hours now. A sea of hands is raised towards the heavens …as if anticipating a messiah’s apparition. Above is a vast firmament pregnant with impending history. This very sky, which was eyewitness to a similar spectacle a year ago, is just as eager for what unfolds tonight.

Between earth and sky is a gentle breeze regulating the atmosphere, the ends of dazzling stage lights, and a sprightly white bird chronicling the momentous sight below. Piloted by expert thumbs on a console, the bird may have to be grounded soon, lest it be blown to pieces by fireworks from the stands. From mighty speakers emanate a forceful bass that hits the chest more powerfully than coarse palms looking to ease burning sensations caused by a tot of Shocker, hastily gulped with a dense grimace. After much publicity, Starr FM’s “S Concert 2017” is upon us.

A messiah will descend alright…several, in fact. Over 50 performers (budding and mainstream alike) are expected to mount the high-status stage this evening: B4bonah, Joyce Blessing, Fancy Gadam, Ebony, King Jerry, Bukom Banku, Ebony, Stonebwoy, Dope Nation, Kumi Guitar, Mr. Eazi, Kuami Eugene, KiDi, Shatta Wale, Samini, Ras Kuuku, BBNZ acts Shaker and Ko-jo Cue, Article Wan, Obibini, Joyce Blessing, Gifty Osei, Kwadwo “Lil Win” Nkansah, Darkovibes, Captain Planet etc.

Due to time constrains and reported “backstage issues”, a number of these acts would not be able to perform, most notably Ebony, Mr. Eazi, and Samini, but the show would be epic nonetheless. Why? It’s the “S Concert”.

The popular wings (the only available space left) are filling up rapidly, and there’s an equally teeming pack outside the mighty stadium walls, waiting [im]patiently to make their way through heavy security, grab their bottles of Rush Energy, and join their compatriots in the arena.

An estimated 40, 000 patrons would attend this year’s show. Similar numbers have been recorded at previous editions (held at the Osu Oxford Street, the Trade Fair Center – Accra, and this stadium) –making it the biggest Ghanaian concert in recent times.

For the second year running, Shatta Wale is the reason for the gathering. How can one tell? Praise songs dedicated to him can be heard right from when the gates opened, to when he makes his triumphant entry at 2:35, Saturday morning. Even when other acts come on stage, it is his name that echoes all around, not theirs. Furthermore, whenever turntablists feel like energy levels in the crowd need boosting, it is the dancehall singer’s tunes they resorts to: “Dem Confuse”, and “Freedom” drawing the most cheer.

For the second year running, Shatta Wale is the reason for the gathering. IMAGE/ EIB

A stadium audience is at the end of the day, one of the truest tests of an artist’s character (performance-wise). Such a crowd is intimidating and not one to be experimented with. Constituting the most demanding lot an artist will ever face, they could dismantle him within seconds. A single misstep, a bit of slumber, and so shall his doom come –as one that is unarmed in the presence of a poisonous snake. It is why some acts (understandably) would stay clear of multitudes thus, sticking only to intimate crowds of devoted fans. At the same time, a crowd thus, could serve as the single piece he the artist, needs to cement his name within serious conversations pertaining to worthy musicians. It is why singer Ebony (whom it is widely-held, would have reaffirmed herself as the strongest contender for 2018 VGMA Artist of the Year with her act) being unable to perform this year particularly is unfortunate. She was present at last year’s edition, but her clout was far lower. This time around, she was one of the most highly –anticipated, and it would have been good for VGMA quest. Her journey to VGMA glory remains on course, but a 2017 “S Concert” appearance would have effectively sealed matters.

EBONY

…or Tamale Titan Fancy Gadam, who defiantly mounts the stage after Shatta Wale completes his set (which is suicidal in many cases, but brave in his). Storming gallantly onstage with the pump and pageantry remniscent of a true royal, and a stagecraft perfected from years and years of practice, he displays that he’s now fully shed the tag of “northern artist”, taking on the mainstream like a high-quality warrior. He is received by an appreciable crowd, which is verification that he is now a subject of national conversations. Like Ebony, Gadam (born Ahmed Mujahid Bello) eyes the coveted VGMA laurel. This year, his effort is one to be emulated. Not unaccustomed to filling large arenas, Fancy has taken on major cities across the country and triumphed –the most recent being his November 26 Bukom Square date, which was completely sold out, by the way.

Storming gallantly onstage with pump and pageantry remniscent of a true royal, and a stagecraft perfected from years and years of practice, he displays that he’s now fully –shed the tag of “northern artist”, taking on the mainstream like a high-quality warrior. PHOTO/ PULSE

Also, he has contributed to a playlist of the biggest songs this year. His “Total Cheat”, featuring rapper Sarkodie, is a bona fide nationwide hit, and this is despite offerings by Shatta Wale, Kuami Eugene, Ebony, Patapaa, KiDi and Wutah.

Established heads know how to manage such numbers. Both Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale are at a position in their careers where they have little else to prove, and cannot be taken aback by any Ghanaian crowd. Their performances, masterfully dispatched to deafening cheers and the blasting sound of fireworks, are not entirely surprising because they’re gurus now.

The concert may be attended for top acts as Stonebwoy and Shatta, but it’s now very much the new generation’s too; specific reference being Lynx Entertainment hit machines Kuami Eugene and KiDi. It is the dream of every act to, at some point in their career, have and congregation (including celebrated broadcaster and media mogul Bola Ray) like was recorded at the Accra Sports Stadium last Friday, chant back choruses to their songs. To be able to achieve that this early in their career is colossal. Buoyed by titanic energy being fed to them by the mammoth gathering, the lads render performances fitting of A- list artists. Singlehandedly, Eugene and KiDi take turns to ride the current like true pros, requiring assistance from neither dancers nor hypemen –just allowing themselves to be possessed by the music that Starr FM DJ Vyrusky spins. At vantage points in omnipresent anthems as “Hiribaba”, “Say You Love Me”, “Odo”, and “Angela”, Vyrusky would drag down faders on his console to allow the crowd a part of the performance, which they roared excitedly. Moments as these, KiDi submits, are up there with the best feelings in the world.

KiDi. IMAGE/ EIB

It is the dream of every act to, at some point in their career, have and congregation (including celebrated broadcaster and media mogul Bola Ray) like was recorded at the Accra Sports Stadium last Friday, chant back choruses to their songs. IMAGE/ EIB

Though he was not originally slated to perform, Edem’s showing at “S Concert 2017” once and for all, puts to bed any public notion (or any personal perception he might entertain) that he is underrated/ marginalized by the establishment due to the language he raps in. Over an illustrious career starting in 2009, the VRMG founder has built a glowing portfolio of both hip-hop and dance-ready jams.  He belongs to the first rank of Ghanaian acts today, and that should never come up for debate. Tracks as “Bougez”, ‘Bra Fremi Fremi”, “Heyba”, “Ghetto Arise”, “Over Again”, “Go Higher”, “Koene”, “The One”, and “Nyedzilo” have not merely been groundbreaking upon release, but have also served as great models for marrying multiple genres as well as creative and cultural backgrounds seamlessly. His primary language of delivery (Ewe) notwithstanding, he has crossed over effectively, and with cunning ease. He is the main Volta act of his generation who has sustained crossover appeal this well. In this regard, Edem is a genius.

For him, the Ghanaian task is done. Now comes the African agenda, and he is duly equipped. His forthcoming album, his 4th, is aptly titled “The African Answer”. The project, set for release early next year, was co-produced by respected American producer Coptic –with whom he has regularly collaborated. Coptic comes unto this project with major influence, having engineered hits for global stars as Notorious B.I.G, P Diddy, Usher, Snoop Dogg and a host of others. When Edem’s new project is finally published, a rousing reception, like was accorded him at the stadium, is specifically what will happen.

Edem. IMAGE: Facebook/ EDEM

A key date on our entertainment calendar, the “S Concert” is now bigger that just Accra. It is therefore welcome news that, according to inside reports, there are plans to stage it in other parts of the country. Also, it should see more female acts if it is to be taken as truly “a stage for all”, as a statement addressing the backstage challenges emphasizes. While Joyce Blessing and Gifty Osei decently represented the female stock of Ghanaian performers, there still must be an agenda to have more of them on stages thus, because there still exists imbalance regarding women representation in our music. A significant platform as this can help rectify the deficiency…or at least set us on a path.

The “S Concert” proves a powerful opener for the stream of events that flood the Christmas season here. Yet again, the bar has been raised. How will Rapperholic 2017, the BHIM Concert, December 2 Remember et al match up?

*Compered by EIB Network hosts Jason, Giovani Caleb, Sammy B, KOD and IBK, the 2017 “S Concert” was sponsored by Storm Energy Drink, Accra City Hotel, Express Savings and Loans, Ghana Post GPS, Hubtel, and Cosmopolitan Health Insurance.

 

See more images courtesy EIB & ZYLOFON:

 

 

Comments
Continue Reading

Music

T’NEEYA is reshaping Africa’s New Ubran Sound!

Published

on

German-Cameroonian chanteuse T’neeya (Jennifer Tania Takoh) is fast-becoming one of the continent’s favourite new-age voices.

Using Soul, Alternative Afrobeat, and Dancehall, the self-taught Ghana-based songwriter affects listeners in a way that is intimate and immersive. Whether via covers or her original compositions, T’neeya’s sound, because the multi-layered texture it arrives in, appeals to a wide spectrum of audiences.  And when one takes a look at the greats she cites as her influences (Micheal Jackson, 2 Baba Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu et al), it is not entirely surprising that her sound is gradually permeating with such superior effectiveness…courting critical reception even in Ghana, and guaranteeing her a place on key stages in the country.

Her recent collaborative piece with Ghanaian counterpart and “Tomorrow” man Darkovibes, swiftly makes a strong case for her as a constant name on a playlist of must-have African love songs today. Happy and playful, it is also sensitive in the vocal texture it is delivered in.  Thoughtful and greatly relatable lyrics, as well as a pristine guest verse from Darkovibes, ensure that in spite of it being new, it is already observed as classic material.

Simply referred to as “T”, the sultry  singer is already widely considered a pioneering name in the contemporary urban music space, her graceful eccentricity and avant-garde melody ensuring that.

Alumnus of the University of Applied Sciences (Berlin), T’neeya is also author of “Hold Me Down”, a submission which adds to an elegant catalogue she’s building. Produced by respected programmer VACS, the song is widely-rotated across various platforms in the country, a clear testament to it’s quality.

T’neeya’s relationship with music started at a tender age: taking herself through the rudiments of songwriting, and steadily growing a committed following for her performance on a number of talent shows in her native Cameroon. She herself did not realise the potential of her gift, till her parents started paying attention: “singing professionally wasn’t a reality for me, until my parents started noticing, I sounded good and gave me their blessing”, she recounts.

Heartfelt and moving, T’neeya’s songs usually centre on themes relating to love, joy, and struggle,  crafted from a variety of experiences, and carefully conveyed via a masterful blend of Pidgin, English and French.

Listen to more T’neeya here:

Comments
Continue Reading

Long Reads

On the Sixth Floor with Simi – AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Published

on

Earl Heights Apartment, Accra. 

 

I DO NOT KNOW FROM WHICH DOOR SIMI EMERGES, but it’s most likely the one at the end of the hall. When I lift my head from my MacBook, she’s already by the couch on which I’ve been waiting. I wonder how I didn’t hear the sound of her high heels clacking on the tiled floor as I rise to shake her hand.

29, the petite singer looks saintly this afternoon – her plain attire barely reaching beyond her shoulders and knees. Jewelry glistens on her ears, left forefinger and on both wrists…her face, radiant with elegant makeup. As she settles in the corner of the couch, she looks like a prized artefact in an art museum.  Indeed, the room itself looks like a gallery: spacious and alive with rich colors and compelling paintings.

Simi’s schedule is tight. Since yesterday (October 12), the Ghana leg of the media tour for her sophomore album Simisola, has seen her on quite a number of TV and radio stations in Kumasi and Accra. In half an-hour, she should be on GH One TV, and then on Live FM, and then Class FM. A similar timetable awaits her tomorrow, as well as the day after.

Like in her home country of Nigeria, Simisola is also well-received here. On September 8, when all of Ghana’s attention should have been focused on Sarkodie’s fifth album Highest, artwork for Simisola was just as prominent on our timelines. And why not? With a voice the texture of  confectionery, and stories that touch, she’s as beloved here as she is on the streets of Lagos and Abuja, and is imaginary fiancée to many young Ghanaian men.

That last line sounds like the perfect icebreaker for our conversation – either that, or rapper Patapaa’s One Corner craze. I opt for the latter: would she do the dance, at least for the culture? “No, I don’t think I will”, followed by a giggle, which is also heard frequently throughout our intercourse. She has not tasted the famous Ghana Jollof yet, and the revelation bruises my heart, but does not make her any less cool.

When she speaks, Simi’s words flow rapidly and with teenage pitch – just like her laugh. She exudes a persona of effervescence and sincerity, and rich wisdom is apparent in her every sentence.

Signed to X3M Music, it has taken Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye four projects (two albums and two EPs) to truly establish herself in Nigeria’s mainstream music circles. Her sound is qualified by superior purity and street soul, which has seen her regarded also as an alternative in the mainstream instead of merely an alternative to it. This has often meant that her music has been largely a “well-kept secret” – only available to those who diligently search.

With Simisola, which was led with Joromi (a kind of homage to highlife great Sir Victor Uwaifo), Simi has finally found renown, and she didn’t have to conform to any norms to get here. If anything, she’s the exception, redefining whatever rules exist.

The world over, “commercial music” has often referred to one tailored strictly for dance –lacking wholesome content, and perishable after a few months. Simi’s songs are sacred and possess longevity. Due to this (and out of respect), the adjective is seldom used for her records.

But Simi finds this definition faulty. Concerned, she straightens up: “everybody does music to sell it. Commercial is something you sell, so unless I’m giving it out for free, it is commercial”. This definition is striking in its accuracy.

She submits a similar explanation when I inquire if she’s comfortable being “pigeonholed” into the category of “Afropop”, seeing that there’s more to her music than the sub-genre.  She disagrees that it is a pigeonhole in the first place. Citing British chanteuse Adele, she reiterates a substitute variation of Pop music (of which Afropop is a limb) – that it simply refers to popular music. And as long as we agree that her music is popular, we are not wrong. If anything, she adds, the label gives her “more room to explore”. And why not? Afropop encompasses virtually all melody from the continent, and while many consider it a vague and often sluggish way to describe sounds from these parts, Simi embraces it – exploiting it to her advantage. No one is going to look at her suspiciously when she experiments with various rhythms, and as as artist, one needs all the freedom one can get.

Simi takes her poetic licence seriously: “at the the end of the day, music is supposed to be more expressive than organized”. At the same time, she admits to the obsession of wanting the music sound a specific way: “when I’m writing or recording, I’m very very precise. I’m a perfectionist. Do you understand?”, her eyes trained keenly upon mine as she inquires. She didn’t need to, because it is evident in how her melody is executed. She’s very hands-on with how her songs come out. Nuanced and thorough, Simi’s sound offers something fresh with every listen – charming sleights sprinkled throughout various compartments of her songs: in the placement of string/ horn interludes, her diction while ad-libbing, the stainless tone of backing vocals which deliver her choruses.

The flair she demonstrates mixing and mastering her songs have even earned her top clients, such rapper YCee of Omo Alhaji fame.

But how does she walk this tightrope of technical precision and the liberty expected of artistry?

“I don’t mix any two of my songs the same…It’s just about knowing how to keep a balance and not get carried away. Every song is different”, says MixBySimi (when she wears that hat). Only she knows how she delivers emotion and technical genius in equal doses. Maybe it is in the fact that her team is close-knit – mainly comprising producer Oscar, and friend/regular collaborator Adekunle Gold (providing guest verses and backing vocals).

A purist himself, Adekunle is very much part of the sound Simi has grown into over the course of her career. The “Urban Highlife”groove that he conceived continues to serve as a special ingredient for the Simi vibe.

When she talks about Adekunle, Simi smiles, and then breaks into her laugh. Same with when she discusses her creative bond with Falz, with whom she collaborated on the lovely Chemistry EP.

Simisola consists 12 deeply affective tunes which could easily be referred to as classics. Because it is self-titled, and due to her convincing delivery of stories about love and loss, self and faith, the work feels autobiographical, though she is quick to point out that while all the stories are true, they aren’t necessarily about her.

The conversation is too short for me…I need at least an hour with precious Simi. But there are other journalists waiting for their turn. Not forgetting the GH One interview.

When the interview is done and I make my way down the shiny elevator, I plug in my earphones and hum along these words from Original Baby, which she names as her favorite song off the project. Both verses from this powerful personal testimony of self-love end thus:

“You gotta take me as I am. I’ll be better, but I’ll never be somebody else”

 

Comments
Continue Reading

Facebook

Recent Posts

OVER THE PERIOD

Advertisement

First News