Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Jamestown youth knows rhythm. She can dance. Her dance is vivacious and appealing. There's a flair and swagger about her body movements to beats. She  enjoys other things: football, boxing, banku...but she lives for dance. Because she knows rhythm, her dance is efficient; she utilises every element of a song, not just the drum kicks.

As she's dancing, she's coming up with comical choreography which correlates to the lyrics of the song, and she employs everyday gestures: she smells her armpit, or she's eating from a pot, or her forefinger is in the side of her mouth and she's biting lightly on it. There's frantic movement on her waist and feet, it's intricate but it's never off beat... on her face is reaction to tantric sex. Wisa's song, is for such a damsel. 

Wisa Greid's song too, is a hit. It has you in seconds, and the whole song can be memorised in minutes. The words 'ekiiki mi' are additional aid in the recall of the rhythm. Indeed, it's all you need to say to enjoy the song. 

The voice of the Ga shores is strong and especially audible and comes in a peculiar exuberance which might even sound combative, much like what we hear from Nima and Fadama. But the sound from Nima, is slightly different: it's still powerful in its deepness and huskiness and possesses youthful 'aggression', but it's a bit more laxed, like what we sound like when we have just woken from sleep. Another thing which might colour the  voices from both Mamobi and Mamprobi as fierce are the jargons and insults, and when threats are made in the languages the two peoples speak (Ga and Hausa), it's more practical and realistic, and so it's more effective.  

Wisa's voice, therefore, is originally Ga. It's strong and ambiguously jovial, plus, his words feel pronounced with most of his facial muscles, like Ga words are supposed to be spoken. His accent is thick, so when he switches to Twi, we can tell. It's a truthful imperfection,  I like it.

And while we are still on the issue of diction, I should briefly highlight how truthfully Wisa's words mirror Labadi speak, or indeed, the Bukom-Chorkor stretch. The Bukom metaphor is raw and unpretentious, and is pure perfection in the way it performs the task of being a metaphor. Ga similes (and innuendos) are immediately understood and never forgotten. Wisa proves my point with ad-lips thus:

'eshaa mi tamɔ shitɔ... ŋɔɔ inaa tamɔ agushi fɔlɔ' 

Translated, these lines mean, "it's painful like pepper" and "it's delicious like (well) Agushi sauce".

For all intents and purposes, Wisa has achieved a commercial song. It doesn't change the fact that I fear he might be a flash in the pan. I also fear his remix with Sarkodie might achieve less than the original version Luther has already chalked.

I like Luther's voice too, very much. It's unusual to Ga shores. The Ga believe in the bone, so we would rather box or play football...or perhaps  fish. Even when we are lazy, we are bone-lazy. See how much we believe in the efforts of a bone? And when we sing, it's so muscular that it sounds like we are singing with a bone. We've reared great musicians, but never really a great vocalist...never really the silky voice. Take Adane Best or Adotey Tetor...the Great E.T Mensah even, or Ramblers. But they've always gotten the job done, even with the love song. But once a while, we are pleasantly surprised with a voice actually made to sing the love song, like Mentor alumni, Joe (now Nii Soul)...or Luther. 

Luther's voice is soft in texture and highly melodic, and like I said, "un-Jamestownlike". Indeed, before turning to pounding rhythm, he had constantly hoped and actually believed that he could sell mainly the silky voice to Korle Gonno and surrounding areas. So he started off singing reggae,  as Eddy Ranks or so. How wrong he was. When he finally jumped on more "street" rhythm, he immediately got our attention. 

But his voice is uniquely Ga too. His sound possesses a bone too, not with his vocal performance, but with his words and technique. He too is raw, and uses Ga figures of speech:

" dɔɔ omli tamɔ sɔŋŋ ni ma ka", to wit, bend like a shrimp, so I can hit. 

He also introduces himself with "osh!", an interjection which is new, yet familiar.  He also knows how the Ga language works, and he is resilient in the way he sings; including harmony the way he would on a reggae song, which is his real strength anyway. Finally, he makes konga sounds with his mouth, and since the konga is a sound which the indigen recognises, it works. He's creative with it, and it's intriguing to the listener, so it works. 

There's the sound of konga too, programmed in the song. A konga with a smaller face, played with nothing more than  the fingers.

When the song starts, something is knocking something...maybe it's two smooth and heavy sticks against each other, or maybe it's the sound of a drumstick's side on the rim of a snare. It's loudness is controlled, like the drummer has the end of his palm, the part which leads unto the wrist on the snare while tapping the end of the snare with a side of the stick. It's the rhythm to which we clap to slow "jama" or church praise songs. The hook doesn't stand alone, it's accompanied by bass strums, there's hi-hat feels loose, and Luther's " kpaa kpaa" is accessorised by the sound of something splashing.

The song is simple and short, and there isn't much in it lyrically, so you can join in at any point and you wouldn't have missed much.

There's a final peculiarity about Ekiiki Mi which might be remarkable: it feels like a continuation. Continuation is important to music, one of the most important elements perhaps. No good song should ever end.. at least not in the listener's ear. There's the sound of a wind instrument created on the keyboard, in this song. It sounds simple and individual, like it's played with two fingers on the right hand. It nods approvingly all through the song and we really hear it when continues the conversation even after Wisa and Luther's final word.  When this song is on replay, the point where it ends, and where it starts again could be unnoticed.  It's an impressive effort from Chapter Beats, whom we might still consider a rookie at this point.  We'll take it.

In the end, you might not need to take the song seriously...it's merely material which should make the jog feel less like work, or to allay boredom at the party, but it's effective. It will "kiik" you. 

The Jamestown youth knows rhythm. She can dance. Her dance is vivacious and appealing. There's a flair and swagger about her body movements to beats. She  enjoys other things: tilapia, evening breeze and colour ...but she lives for dance. Because she knows rhythm, her dance is efficient; she utilises every element of a song, not just the drum kicks, and the tips of her toes believe in the "kiik".

By Gabriel Myers Hansen 

The writer can be reached @myershansen on twitter


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I am a Creative Arts Writer who is also into Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Photography and IT consultancy. I am also Social media enthusiast and an alumni of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).


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