Kofi Kinaata, who looks a long way shy of even thirty, has an adult’s head on his young shoulders, for his ‘Susuka’, which could translate as ‘mind your words’, is full of striking quotables from an octogenarian. My God! Actually, maybe he’s just ahead of his time, because there’s something extra special about his approach to music, like we’ve all come to notice.
We know he can rap (he’s released an impressive list of songs to which we can refer), but this song stands out from his repertoire for a multiplicity of reasons…which is even an odd thing to say because all his songs stand out for a multiplicity of reasons. ‘Made in Tardi’ is so original in rhythm and feel, and ‘Sweetie Pie’ is growing on us like something. Of course, we both know how much he did for Donzy’s ‘The Crusade’, so…
Let’s start off this way: Susuka is wisdom, and is no doubt one of the most significant songs, not just of his exciting career, but for many a Ghanaian youth. Immediately, Susuka sets Kinaata apart when certain debates happen –so suddenly, we might start comparing his potential to that of many rap legends here, if not out loud, in our heads. Like I’ve mentioned, we can all bear testimony to his dexterity in wordcraft, but this song earns him special respect in our hearts, because this is a poor man’s anthem as much as it is a rich man’s. It’s word to both the healthy man and the disabled…and everyone in–between.
Again, this song shines light on characteristics of Kinaata’s mind; that it’s one which is observant and which has not been compromised by fame, at least not yet (we know how dangerous that can be). It makes a statement about the sorts of thoughts Kinaata has, and is evidence that he hasn’t his head up the clouds…he’s still here with the rest of us. His mind is special, one that society requires. It is one which we all (including Kinaata himself) can learn from.
This song is abundantly philosophical.We are at our most philosophical when we are at our lowest. When all is rosy, we are inclined to ignore or undermine the effects, and more importantly, the role of certain things that happen to us. Therefore, we can gather or at least confidently guess that Susuka rises out of personal experience…that Kofi himself has had his fair share of low depths.
Perhaps now more than ever, Takoradi has our attention when it comes to rap. All three names which just came to your mind are excellent rappers, yet today ( and probably for a while longer), Kinaata is the one I will go for, in terms of lyricism and depth of diction. The Kinaata guyankasa, he came up as a result of his maneuvers around the spoken word: it comes in a creativity and wit which we possibly have never seen before. This Fante rapper is incredibly funny, and boys boys will tell you that once you’ve been able to get someone to laugh (usually a lady, but it works for everyone else too), you have their attention. That’s what Kinaata first did to us with Onni Chorus, that endless lyrical show off which warns that there’s no chorus in the song in the chorus…and we’ve stuck to his word ever since. Also, he’s very talented…a genius even, with his word choice …so it makes it easy to enjoy his music.
We can’t help but demand more from life, every time –it’s human nature. It doesn’t make sense if we don’t get the job, especially as according to our own investigations, we are the most qualified…It seems illogical that on the very day he finally saved enough to buy a Toyota, Yaw Kyei drove straight into a streetlight and flew through his sparkling windscreen to his death.
These days, the news has been depressing as usual, but more so because of the forms tragedy has come in; too many people ( both the high and the rest of us) have perished under unfair means in our eyes, but blatantly, the song provokes a remorse and weird shame for our response at life and what it offers us, because terrible things have happened to good people, but at the same time, that could/ should have been us too, and yet somehow, ,we are still here.
‘ wo mate bi w’abɔ dam, ɛkur bi w’ewu ma ewia bir yi they’re getting buried’
The above line, which basically asks that we should be objective when comparing ourselves to our mates chalking ‘bigger’ success (i.e we should also remember that one who has become demented, as well as that one who is dead and is being buried this afternoon), is so accurate about us. Indeed, all the words in the song are true about us, and we can relate so well to them. That is why it is just as much a meditative gospel song too.
And the fact that this song (though sung with the voice of a depressed drunkard, on a theme which we’d normally sidestep for Gasmilla tempo) has gained wide popularity, seems more like a miracle to me than anything else. A miracle orchestrated by a hard work and an honesty in message and emotion. Who knew, positive messages can thrive too in this age.
Kofi Kinaata’s song necessitates reflection, right next to the rhythmic nods which come with enjoying quality music. Maybe only one or two others have dared to do this and done it as fluidly as Kinaata has managed, so he deserves credit.
The song is immersive emotionally, and this is achieved, specifically through at least two things; one, the ad-libs at the beginning and what forms the tail of the chorus. Kofi shows us something unbelievable yet true about humans and our expression of emotion –that sometimes words, which are our primary method of expression might just not suffice in announcing what we truly feel…which is where the melodious wailing of sorts comes in.
Two: there’s just as much emotion (maybe more) , in the examples he employs to sing Susuka. He brings us the ultimate comparisons, for they are both specific to our unique individual cases, and at the same time, general enough to cover the entire spectrum of this life:
‘Wo fie wari dɛn koraa mpo a, obi ni fie wɔ wo di ekyir ( no rushing)
W’asɛm no te dɛn, ɛte obi ne de aa, ɛbɛkɔ w’ekyir (sharp)
N’awo ennyi mpaboa n’erisu no, m’onnyi nan nso ɔnka dɛn
Nti girl no egyae awu ekoku wohu, Roman father nso ɔnyɛ dɛn
Awo boys aama ɛpɛ girl, ma w’anwu ba no bi nso ɔnka dɛn
W’abrabo ni mu ayɛ den dread, m’ɔda prison nso ɔnyɛ dɛn
Among the above lines are some of the most difficult questions we will ever be confronted with, and they’re not even Chemistry questions. We most likely won’t be able to answer them. We might only manage a pensive ‘hmmm’.
Because, ‘ n’ɛka dɛɛ ɛreshwɛ ma nyimpa reyɛ aa, ennyi wo Nyame ayɛ oo’ –once we start comparing our situation with others’, we’re unlikely to say thank you to God. Therefore, if we have food and shelter (regardless of what form they take), Kinaata advises thus:
‘n’ada wo Nyame ase ooo’ –thank your God oo!
Think about these words, which we may have first heard from another Fante musician, the legendary A.B Crentsil –that for no particular reason we can think of, ‘wɔ wu obi no na onnyi nnan nnyi nsa/ obi nso onntum nnhu adi oo, nso )da ne Nyame asi/ fri sɛɛ ɔwɔ nkwa aa, ɔwɔ ade nyinaa, bi oo eh eh/ m’ɔda mortuary nso ɔny3ɛ dɛn?’ –‘someone was born into this world without limbs, another, blind…yet they are thankful to God, for with life, we lay claim to all other gifts as well. Else, what should the one laying in the mortuary say?’
And then the wailing comes again. In the background there’s a harmony of male voices singing ‘ɔte dɛn mpo aa susuka’ –‘however bad it is, mind your language’.
Aside the sung verse, there’s also a rap verse which is just as instructive: There’s comparison of tilapia with an eagle, and why they should not be compared as they’re both great in their respective environments. There’s suggestion to ignore our past and find happiness in every situation, as it could have been so much worse, etc:
‘nyimpa de sɛbi sebi kɔshwɛ 37/ sesei obi hyɛ mortuary ah
ɛde ka aa forgeti, kotow sa iyi mpo nka/ onnyi dɛɛ obiaa bɛti, susuka
Nkwa de, obi bɛka osen sika/ nti ɛwɔ ha aa, saw na ayɛ lucky’
‘Kin Dee!’ –that scream, we usually associate to Guru, because of great work those two have done together, especially in the past. With Guru, Kin Dee has usually been loud and party-like, but on Susuka, he creates such a cool number. It’s not particularly flashy –the beat –so it might take a bit of getting used to…at least that’s the pace my affection for the song took, but this simplicity is effective as it ensures that we listen to Kinaata’s sermon, and that we are not ‘distracted’, sort of. Of course I must hasten to add that the fact that I have unconsciously learned to say ‘ghanamotion.com’ when the song starts doesn’t amuse me much, I tell you.
In spite of all he’s shown in his already eventful career, as well as the marvelous prospects he bears, he might still not have broken out fully. I believe strongly though, that all that is about to change…and very soon too.
‘Obi nnya w’ayɛ oh, obi ni de so sen wode yi mpo
Obi nnya w’ayɛ oh, obi ni de so sen wode yi mpo
Hwɛ obi nnya w’ayɛ oh, eh obi ni de so sen wode yi
Ah obi nnya w’ayɛ ati, obi ni de so sen wode yi mpo’
Susuka is wholesome music, it’s important music because of the words it comes in. It is also relevant everyday because everyday we are human, everyday we are ungrateful. In the end though, w’asɛm no te dɛn, ɛte obi ne de aa, ɛbɛkɔ w’ekyir.
‘…and when you think that it’s bad, there’s always someone who has it worse than you’ —Shaggy, from his song ‘Keep’n It Real’.