Saturday, September 26, 2009

10 Hiplife songs you should know about

I watched a documentary called "Living the Hiplife" recently and hearing them play Reggie Rockstone's Visa made me feel nostalgic. I was at a Stanford Library borrowing movies and had searched for "the Godfather". This documentary came up in my search because the summary included the Godfather of Hiplife (aka Hiplife Grandpapa aka Ɔboɔba Reggie Rock aka Oseikrom President aka Reggie Rockstone). Anyway, listening to Visa and a couple other songs have made to write this blog post. I'll be sharing 10 hiplife songs I think you should definitely know about. They were either groundbreaking, popular, interesting or inspirational.

Before that, you have to check out my 10 favorite Ghanaian songs of 2009, my 10 songs dedicated to African women, my favorite Ghanaian songs, 10 favorite songs from Kenya, 10 favorite songs from South Africa, my 10 favorite Nigerian songs and 10 African songs I think you should know about. I hope you feel the songs are worth the trouble. Click the songs to find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Will expand on these songs later but they are.

Visa - Reggie Rockstone
Rockstone had wowed us with tracks like Sweetie Sweetie, Nightlife in Accra and Keep your eyes on the road, but Visa was the track that made people wake up and realise hiplife was here to stay. Reggie talked about getting visas to travel abroad, an issue dear to the hearts of many Ghanaians. Writing the song like a letter was pure genius. "Akwantuo yɛ ya, yɛbounce wo visa a, ne ya; USA, I gots to go, yɛbounce wo visa a, ne ya; Akwantuo yɛ ka, yɛbounce wo visa a, ne ya". That Meka album is one of the best ever.

Maba - Ex-doe &
Wobeko - Chicago
Hiplife's history would be incomplete without these two songs. These songs represented the first major beef in hiplife. Ex-Doe & Chicago had collaborated on the classic Daavi medekuku, an Ewe & Twi hit song. They disbanded and the next thing we heard was Ex-Doe dissing Chicago, as well as Reggie Rockstone! It was a crime to diss Rockstone who was highly revered then. Ex-Doe rapped "Wofrɛ wo ho President; Wosɔre a, wonte wo residence". And then I like how he went on to shout-out a whole bunch of deejays. Chicago came back with a strong reply and both songs were major hits. I remember my friend using to sing Maba chorus as "Hey maba, ho maba, ɛnti montwa me quarter ɛ!"

Aketesea - Kontihene
I picked this song over Asesa simply because it was hugely popular and had the jama chorus. Aketesea was groundbreaking, it incorporated a jama song in its chorus and had a strong Ghanaian ring to it. He started the song with an idiom unheard of "Suban, ɛtɛ sɛ nyinsɛn, wontumi mfa nsie;
Wotwe wo mu tan a, ɛbɛpue". He wasn't the first hiplife artiste to emerge the big winner at the Ghana Music Awards, Lord Kenya had beaten him to that the previous year (2001). He made a strong statement with a super debut album.

Makola kwakwe - Tinny
Makola Kwakwe is probably still the biggest hit Ga hiplife song to date. Tinny's debut single signalled the emergence of Ga hiplife. I don't even know what he was saying in the song. Tinny was dubbed the Ga Obrafour which is saying a lot. The guy behind the beats was Hammer of the Last 2. Hammer was also behind the signature debuts of Obrafour and Deeba, who like Tinny, both won best new artiste when they emerged. Does Kwakwe last stop even exist?

Fefe n'efe - Tic Tac
This song was significant because of Tic Tac's collaboration with Nigeria's Tony Tetuila. This song opened the floodgates of Naija-Ghana collabos and music from both countries becoming popular in each other's clubs. The song sampled an old Fela Kuti hit (which is massive in itself) and has some of the most talked about hiplife lyrics ever - "Fɛfɛ n'ɛfɛ, na ɔbaa tu amirika a, amirika; Fɛfɛ n'ɛfɛ, na ɔsɔ ne nofo mu o, ɔbu adeɛ; Fɛfɛ n'ɛfɛ, sɛ ɛnsɛ ɛbɛte atɔ ntia, ɛbɛte atɔ ntia". Translated to English - it's because it is beautiful & stylish that when a woman runs, she holds unto her breasts but it's not because they are going to fall off.

Agyaesa (Hiplife review) - Bradez
This track was on Bradez's debut album and provided a recent history of hiplife. They talked about Tic Tac taking hiplife international, compilations by Obrafour and others, the passing away of Terry Bonchaka, the Tuabodom controversy. They also talked the KK Fosu & Batman beef, Reggie Rockstone 'retiring', to the controversy that Sidney's Obiaa nye obiaa created. It's also a great song. Bradez have become one of the popular hiplife groups, and are very popular these days.

Letter to parliament - A-Plus
This song makes the list because of the euphoria/controversy/popularity that followed it. A-Plus criticized Ghanaian MPs for not delivering on promises. It is rumoured that A-Plus received death threat and MPs wanted to take him to task. As usual, A-Plus criticized various political events of the recent past, especially criticizing the amount of money spent on Ghana's 50th anniversary of independence. The song's chorus used the chorus of Kaakyire's popular 24th song. Some lyrics - "Wontuaa wo ba school fees nwieyɛ; Nso ne birthday, watɔ nantwie ama no". He also teased the infamous transportation minister with this - "Na ɛmom, baako no; Yede wo akɔ aburokyire, kɔ ka AIDS asɛm; Wɔakɔhyɛ tokuro mu". Even President J. A. Kufuor was not spared.

Ako - Obrafour
This song was a throwback to Obrafour's beginnings. He reunited with Hammer (Last 2) on a track that bore resemblance to the famed singles from his 'Pae mu ka' album. The video was also highly rated. The song is believed to be a direct reply to beef between Obrafour's Last 2 Camp (including Hammer & Kwaw Kese) and Kontihene. Obrafour sang - "Wotwi ahenfie kaa a, na ɛnkyerɛ sɛ woyɛ ɔdehyeɛ ei; Ɛsono ɔbarima na ɛsono ɔbarima, ɛna ɛsono ɔkatakyie". He seemed to be addressing some of his hiplife competitors and separating himself from the pack. If Obrafour was engaged in a rap battle, he'd have floored somebody. The song's lyrics are simply super.

Keva (Bougez) - Ayigbe Edem
Daavi medekuku was a hit when it surfaced in the late 90's but we never had an Ewe artiste emerge till Ayigbe Edem. This song also introduced Sarkodie to many hiplife lovers which helped launch his own career. Ayigbe Edem's song was on a Hammer beat which also brought the beatmaker back into the spotlight after other producers had hogged the scene. Ayigbe Edem made Ewe rap cool and has since become a mainstream artiste. He is to Ewe rap what Tinny is to Ga rap. He's got mad swagger and he's not done. Announcing his entry into the hiplife scene backed by the king of the streets, Kwaw Kese, and the king of hiplife at the moment, Sarkodie, makes this song one to remember.

The Game - Obour & Okyeame Kwame & Richie
This song did the things Bradez's Agyaesa failed to do. It had a music video, it criticized all that was wrong with the hiplife industry; from the artists, to producers, to djs, to promoters, to distributors, etc. Interesting, Richie, who's been the top beat maker recently and through his beats is redefining what hiplife is, blessed this track with an instrumental. Okyeame Kwame rapped - "Ɛyɛɛ dɛn na; Yɛ nyinaa wɔ Ghana; Yɛte ha retwɛn manna; Nti obroni bi na ɔmbɛyɛ ne yie ansa; Kyerɛ sɛ yɛnnim nyansa; Obiara pɛ sɛ ɔkɔ international, ɛno ne answer?" Obour followed with "Kwame, yɛfiri one ansaana y'akɔ two; Wonni ntaban Ghana, ɛnso wopɛ sɛ wotu; Ɛbɛyɛ dɛn na wonmbutu"

Honourable mentions
Yaanom by Obrafour
Kwame Nkrumah by Obrafour
Nya ntetee pa by Obrafour
P1 by Okomfour Kwaadee
Tuabodom by Nkasei
Ahomka womu by VIP
Mobile phone by Reggie Rockstone
Manenko by VIP
Klu brofo by Buk Bak
Obia nye obiaa by Sidney (Barima)
Scent no by Sidney (Barima)
You may kiss the bride by Bollie
Odiem by Kwaw Kese

Long live Hiplife.
Long live Ghanaian music.
Long live Ghana.
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