Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sparrow Productions' A Sting In A Tale' - a review of the soundtrack

So I am back with another review of Sparrow Productions' "A Sting In A Tale" (ASIAT). After my first review, many people wondered how I was able to give 'this movie' such a great review. I dunno. Maybe I look for different things when watching Ghanaian movies. I am not too impressed by the overdramatized scenes, big English and the other features of 'Gollywood' movies today. I am a big fan of soundtracks. Music in Ghana has come a long way and I think Ghanaian movies should lean on its popularity and versatility to improve. I love how Shirley Frimpong-Manso and her crew have been making use of Ghanaian music in their movies, right from 'Life and Living it'. I must commend Shirley, Chris Attoh (yes, him) and my Odadee friend, Elom Adablah for a great job on ASIAT's soundtrack.

The first scene with the lorry/bus breaking down had me smiling. I'm not sure what song they were playing for this 'Monsi mpia' scene. 'Monsi mpia' means '(you) get down and push'. The song was a nice highlife tune though, sounded like one that Osibisa would do (Afro-rock). Cars breaking down on Ghanaian roads is a very common occurrence and it was 'nice' to put this in the movie. It sets up the challenges and struggles Nii Ayi and Kuuku were going to face. I believe Paapa Yankson's son, Silas Yankson, once released a song called 'Wonsi mpia'. I'd have loved for that song to be played here.

Another interesting song was the one used during the first bar/spot scene where we got introduced to my favorite character in the movie, Rocker Fella. "Na she be the girl o, when the boys see her, them dey feel am .... she go do sharp sharp". Sounds like it was from VIP (Vision in Progress). It's always interesting when you watch some African movies and you see people dancing in a spot/cub/bar with the 'soundtrack' blazing loudly. In a lot of these scenes, the song we're hearing from the movie is not what is being at the club; because the revellers are not really 'singing along'. Then again, I wonder why this VIP song was chosen, and not Bradez's Simple, Echo's Golo golo or Okyeame Kwame's Woso.

I thought it was interesting when they played that song with the "Northern Ghana language" lyrics when Nii Ayi and Kuuku visited the village in search of help. Did Sparrow mean all the poor places in Ghana are inhabited by people from Northern Ghana? Most of Ghana's slums may feed this notion some truth (Zongos) until you go to places like Jamestown. The song used for this scene was straight from Nima, specifically from Nima's most famous ambassadors, VIP. I'm not sure the name of the song, but it featured VIP and FOI (Fruits of Inspiration). I like how VIP & FOI were repping different hoods - Ashaiman, Kumasi, Kano, Kaduna, Madina, Shukura, etc. When I hear Hausa songs, "I'm just loving it" (said in a Don Capo Cheerz voice). Eventually, we hear some Twi lyrics in the song though. Kuu's uncle must also not have known how much it cost to go to America, judging by his contribution. You have to watch the movie to find out what exactly his contribution was. I loved that they were drinking palm wine though. Super!

There were a few Twi and Ga lines used in the movie. I'm not sure where the movie was set, but I heard a lot of Ga lines. We also hear a Ga folk song sang by Kuuku and Nii Ayi in the "No government, no God, just us against the world scene". What is the best soundtrack for a fight scene? I think some Abodam music from Kwaw Kese should have worked there. Maybe Oye nonsense?

I was really loving the movie but when Sarkodie's Borga was played, I was going nuts and bolts! What a song to play! What other song was there to play after Kuuku and Nii Ayi's Borga/visa/pink pastures/Yankee move had failed? "Borga, borga ɛna ɛyɛɛ dɛn!" It seems this was the major track for the movie though it doesn't have any 'ghost' lyrics. Aren't there any popular Sakawa songs? One should have been played when James 'sakawaed' the two friends. This one, I dey try Sakawa, doesn't fit the bill though.

Song in the background - "Na every day walka walka o". Conversation then starts with "I walk upright and tall in poverty, on the surface of wealth". I'm not making this up. Not sure the song played here either, sounds like some old school highlife. I like the drumming music used for the scene where the guy does the ritual. Purely African, no bull. Also liked the score for the hospital scene. Often times in African movies, those scenes go on forever with the song being played but I like how the score was varied throughout and didn't seem to last forever. The scene were Nii Ayi 'gives' Kuuku a bath was forgettable in my opinion. There is a song sang by a melodious female voice which I can't recognise. Felt like one of the Nollywood songs. I guess there are no sad hiplife songs? :-)

We see Nii Ayi thinking about his situation with a soundtrack of "Chale e no be easy, the way we living in the GH" I am surprised I'd never heard this song before or even recognise the voice. The next scene, we have a song most Ghanaians would recognise playing - World Trade Center by 4x4. This song was huge in Ghana last summer right around when the movie was being shot. The song was played during Kuuku's 'house-cooling' party. Sad thing is, we didn't see any big booty girls at the party. ;-). "Ebe like say you no know say your body super; Girl, I go do anything to be your lover, baby". Naughty smile.

"Lil Shaker on the beat, just breathe!" "When I walk in the club, its all eyes on me." They played D-Black and Kwaku-T's Breathe from Kuuku's preparation at home (was he wearing a Polo shirt) to his time at that Citizen Kofi club scene. Kuuku passed by an Ashawo spot (heard a remix of Flavour's Ashawo as well) on his way to CK. I was really feeling the 'Breathe' track then. Nice choice. Readers, welcome the GH rap (Ghanaian hip-hop) movement. Now you can hear English rap songs played in Ghanaian clubs that are not American. Yes, we can. :-)

I didn't hear too many foreign songs in this movie, which is great. I love how Sparrow's been working hard to find local songs that match the pulse of their movies. I don't know the name of the song played at the end. It was in English but sounded Ghanaian. I asked Chris Attoh for an answer and may just have to ask Elom Adablah too. But I will really like to ask Shirley Frimpong-Manso herself. Tried doing so when I was in Ghana but she and her crew were busy shooting another movie. At Christmas time? Yes. Shirley and her crew must be doing well to be shooting movies close to Christmas. Well done, Sparrow productions. More 'garis' to your elbow.

Photos from A Sting In A Tale website.
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