Four of my favourite Ghanaian musicians are making moves at the minute. I’ve already waxed lyrical today about the Blitz the Ambassador concert with Les Nubians & VIP at Alliance Francaise this weekend. One day, God will grant me my wish of seeing Blitz , M3nsa, Wanlov the Kubolor and m.anifest on one stage, right here in Ghana. Meanwhile, I will settle for performances, new albums and new videos.
Gangstarr’s Guru (RIP) once famously rapped that “It’s mostly the voice that lifts you up / It’s mostly the voice that makes you buck / A lot of rappers got flavour and some got skill / But if your voice ain’t dope, then you need to chill…”
M Dot Dot Dot Ti Dot has one of the most distinctive voices in Ghanaian music. It’s not his accent but rather his voice itself. Or maybe his flow. It has a dash of baritone about it. Whatever it is, it’s certainly smooth on the ear.
Fest has dropped a new album… and it’s a good one. Just ask Kojo Baffoe. In a similar vein to Wanlov’s ‘Green Card‘ and Blitz the Ambassador’s ‘Native Sun‘, the new album hinges primarily on the experiences of the Ghanaian forced to live abroad… he who can only come home for short amounts of time. Though it deals with similar themes though, m.anifest’s new album is all his own.
What sets Coming to America apart for me is that there is something on there for everyone. Want some afrobeat? Try ‘Motherland’. Something for the club? ‘One Night Only’ (featuring Eldee Da Don) will get any club popping. Prefer your beats reggae-influenced? ‘Fest has that ‘Fiyah’ for you. Something mellow? ‘Blue’ is music to chill to. ‘Asa’ is a little more experimental in terms of how it takes a traditional beat arrangement and modernizes it. It’s a very nice track, although I feel like Efya (though good) didn’t quite knock this one out of the park the way she usually does.
My personal favourite track is ‘Sunsum Praye’ on which m.anifest spits almost entirely in Twi over a moody, syncopated broken beat courtesy of Kweku Ananse. It comes right at the end of the album and it sounds quite unlike any other Ghanaian song I have ever heard. The drum beat sounds like something traditional that has been sped up and yet it sounds very futuristic. The keys mellow me out. The horns speak of ancestry and reverence. I would love to hear more Ghanaian music in this vein.
First and foremost though, m.anifest is a hiphop MC. Straight no chaser and when it comes to straight hiphop, there is loads to bop your head to here, especially when m.anifest rhymes over beats by his regular partners in musical crime, Budo of Rhymesayers and G-Mo.
‘Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America’ is a solid collection of songs from a solid MC.
I’m beefing with M3nsa. He has a track called ‘When It Rains It Pours’. It was the first song I heard him sing on. My problem? It’s too short. Pound for pound, there are few Ghanaian artists who can step to M3nsa. He is a chameleon of a producer. The M3nsa who produced, rapped and sang ‘Laurian’ seems a different MC to the one who is now one-half of the FOKN Bois (with Wanlov). Yet, the two are one and the same. A fool may make the mistake of thinking that the FOKN Bois’ humour is plain bufoonery, but – like all the best comedy – there are hidden meanings to be pondered and thought through, and at least half of that comes from M3nsa.
I love his new single, ‘Fanti Love Song’ (taken from his album, No. 1 Mango Street). Have done since I first heard the track on Ms. Naa’s ‘Ryse & Shine’ show. It’s underscored by the same chords as Deniece Williams’ ‘Free‘ and is at least as breezy as that song, partly because of the all guitar work going on in the background, but also the lightness of M3nsa’s singing voice. It’s at least loosely-based on ‘Tsena Me Nkyen‘ by Paapa Yankson, although M3nsa’s take on it is very, very stripped down. I have a feeling that fans of the original might scream ‘sacrilege’ but I think it’s cool to hear anyone from this generation taking cues from the one before it, especially over instrumentation this nice.
Mr. Hagan has posted the new video. Check it out here.
You may also want to visit This is Africa for my review of Wanlov the Kubolor‘s Brown Card: African Gypsy.