Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obrafour may be quiet but Okyeame Kwame is the best Ghanaian lyricist today

Obrafour is my favorite lyricist ever. Nya Nteteɛ pa is also one of my favorite songs ever. We haven't heard much from the Rap Sɔfoɔ recently, but if you ask me, he's been replaced. The 'new guy' is Okyeame Kwame, also known as the Rap Doctor. In his latest single, he called himself, 'your favorite rapper's favorite rapper'. I won't argue with him, the dude is good. Many people will know Kwame Nsiah Appau from his Akyeame days. He's the best lyricist in Ghana these days and with time, he may overtake Obrafour as Ghana's best ever. Like joke like joke :-)

I interviewed Okyeame Kwame for sometime last year and I must say I came away impressed. He's not a rapper but he's a student of rap. He attends KNUST (university) and is studying Akan and Sociology. This is what he had to say - "I am studying Akan because I can’t help the poor if I’m not one of them. If I’m part of the academia then I can convince them to look. If the lecturers decide to organize seminars for hip-life, they can find lyricists. I want to get a certificate for what I’m doing. Studying sociology bcuz as a musician you are a social commentator." What business does this sage have rapping and sharing stages with entertainers in Ghana? He sees the bigger picture.

Have you heard his track called Opabeni that he did on Obrafour's Execution Diary compilation in 2004? That signalled the beginning of his solo career and am sure Obrafour would have been impressed. I want to dwell on his song, Anaa (remix) featuring Morris Babyface. The lyrics are so sick, I have to share some of this medication. The song talks about all the stuff a guy would do for a girl and still not earn his love. However, the music video shows how a guy can do so much for a girl but still shirk the responsibilities of caring for or loving the girl. Nsɛm pii. It's a massive song. I am so happy Okyeame Kwame won two nominations for the Channel O Music Video awards. He deserves the commendation and I pray he wins. Go vote for him today!

His lyrics are in Twi so I am going to do some translations so we can all appreciate his talent. "Mede sika ma wo a, wobɛdi ama no asa" - If I give money, you will spend all of it for it to finish?" "Metɔ ntoma ma wo a, wobɛfira ama no apa" - If I buy clothes for you, you will wear it for it to fade?

"Mendane wo mogya, ɛnfa w'adwen mu, Ntena wo tiri mu na mentena wo deɛ mu" - Should I turn into your blood and run through your mind, live in your mind and within you?

"Mendane wo mmɔwrɛ, wayɛ me so manicure na wode me akyerɛkyerɛ, na sɛ w'akyi yɛ wo hene a, wode me awerɛwerɛ" - Should I turn into your fingernails, so you can manicure me and show me off, and when your back itches, you can scratch it with me?

"Na sɛ asɛm boro wo so, na wotwee, ansi so, wode me ahyɛ w'anum na wakeka me awe" - And if you have some matter that you can't do much about, you'll put me in your mouth and chew (fingernails)?

This is my favorite part - "Anaa, mendane wo mframa, na sɛ wo dɔ fɔ a, woatumi ahata, na sɛ wo home rete a, madwedwe w'akoma" - Or, should I turn into your wind, so that when your love is wet, you can dry it, and when you are restless, I will calm your heart"

"Mendum me phone no, na ɔbaa biara anfrɛ anyɛ dede" - Should I put off my phone, so that no girl would call and disturb?

"Mengyae me nnwom to, na obiara antie anfiili me" - Should I stop singing so that no one would feel (like) me?

"Mendane me ho Kufour, na woayi sika adi, anaa" - Should I turn into Kufuor, so that you will get money to spend? (Erm, since when was this something to say?)

"Rap no nkɔ ntɛmtɛm, na menyi nsɛm no bɛmbɛm, nfa nyi sika mpempem, na wondi nyɛ hyɛmhyɛm, na nkrɔfoɔ nka nsɛmsɛm ndi m'atɛm, sɛ wo dɔ no agu sɛ kyɛmkyɛm" - The rap should go fast, so I can release the words quickly, to get millions (money), so you can spend it and become polished, so people can say stuff and insult me, that your love has got me entangled." (Okay, you have to hear this part for yourself).

"Okyeame Kwame to rap a ɛwɔ ne tiri mu nyinaa ma wo a, (Wobɛbie aso bɛtie bɛwie na nnwom no dɛ nyinaa asa)" - If Okyeame Kwame does all the rap in the world for you, you will open your ears, finish listening to it and all the music would finish)

Twi is such a beautiful language and our musicians, more often than not, use it in such a way that we can celebrate. I hope this will help you appreciate how good Okyeame Kwame actually is. He called his latest album, M'anwensɛm, which in Twi means my poetry. His goal was to make all his rap verses like poetry stanzas, how innovative is that? Who else in Africa has tried this? He is the reigning Ghanaian musician of the year and he's going for bigger glories. He is the best rapper alive.

PS: If you are wondering how I got these beautiful Twi characters, you can get them through - the most awesome website out there when it comes to African languages. And of course, you can always see these characters in action through the Ghanaian music lyrics on :-D

PPS: Thanks to Afua for helping translate some of Twi words, it's not easy koraa. If you are like me and have to live with speaking Twinglish, you'll understand. Not everyone can be Obrafour or Okyeame Kwame.
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