President

If I were elected your president(not to worry, I will never run nor will I win a single vote if I did). This will be my acceptance speech nonetheless:

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Today marks the the end of stupidity. Today marks the end of laziness. Today marks the end of inefficiency. Today, corruption faces antagonism of the most brutal kind. Today, Ghanaians start a new learning curve. Today, you have appointed a servant who will serve in your best interest even when you are not aware it is in your best interest. Since 1957, we have elected or been ruled by leaders who have been consumed to a degree by their personal ambitions and neglected the essence of leadership. In our history we’ve had 12 heads of state. Osagyefo being the one true visionary whose legacy is canonized into our national pride and history.  We are still chasing his spark, considering he ruled for just  125days shy of 6 years. I did not come to decry or vilify any of them, God bless their lives. Today, we change our course, not out of arrogance but a vision that is born out of a selfless motive. The prosperity and security of Ghana, our motherland as my only agenda.

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I will be radical, by believing in our people. I will be unorthodox by assembling an unprecedented number of educated Ghanaians across all professional undertakings and invite them home for Nation Building by offering them an equivalent of what this country has gladly paid foreigners to do. I will be vigilante in holding them to much higher standards than we have held these foreign contractors in the past. I will be a tyrant by dissolving any unproductive arm of government that cannot prove its worth over the previous decade of its existence. I will streamline the various Ministries into pragmatic and efficient arms of government with set goals that serve the public interest.

BrainIMAGE   =   braindrain

Today marks the end of the style of government driven by motives that are not designed for the servitude of the people. Public servants, will be held to the highest standards of accountability by  both an independent agency designed to curb corruption or waste and the citizenry.  We open the lines for policing our various governmental institutions to minimize any form of activity that negates the progress of the people by establishing resources that protects and rewards those patriots bold enough to speak up about any trace of corruption in our society and government institutions.

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Today, the Directors and all in charge at ECG and Water & Sewage will be required to come up with a vision for those institutions within the next 30-days to determine if they can keep their jobs. Within 90-days, all efforts will be made to contact knowledgeable Ghanaians and other parties in those industries to offer competitive solutions that will achieve consistent, sustainable and affordable energy for both industrial and domestic use. As a matter of policy;  Solar, Wind and any other form of biodegradable and environmentally friendly energy sources that will help create local jobs and ease the load on Akosombo Dam are to be included in the final plan approved by government. I will task ECG to ensure that all homes pay their fair share of the energy they consume by requiring the ECG to reform its bill collection methods to include each household paying for its own energy usage. A 10-year plan to provide clean drinking filtered water to all corners of this country will be made a priority. It is time we stopped with the silliness of boreholes. The public will be educated and warned of the dangers of refuse dumping, burning in the open and penalties in the form of fines and prosecutions enforced on those who refuse to adapt.

ghelectricity   =   ghsewage

I will be dogmatic in reforming our educational system with educators who value the idea of practical applicable education that highlights our domestic needs as a priority and teaches students how to apply their knowledge in a problem solving manner. Through our educational system, we will reinforce national pride and history in order to give our youth a sense of unfettered pride.  We will mandate that, all public schools be equipped with computers within the first term of my administration and the contracts will be given to those parties that are able to show a proven ability to supply products in a timely manner. Our youth no longer have to rely on 7 editions too old textbooks. Stationary will never be in shortage for our public schools. There are too many resources available from the West, let us use them for their worth– freely, like they used our ancestors to build their economies until we can budget to print our own textbooks. These government contracts are to be streamlined and affordable, not inflated to 3000% for personal gain as has been practiced prior to today.

A-rural-classroom-in-Ghana   ?   ghclassroom

I will be transparent and honest with the heads of our Military and Police to re-establish their purpose as branches of government.   Through collective bargaining, we can re-structure their incomes to meet the realities of the cost of living. This is to ensure that they are there for the sole purpose of defending our security as a Nation and upholding the law of the land respectively. I will insist on all personnel going through periodic ethics classes that re-educates them about the detriments to the nation when corruption exists within national security and law enforcement. We will put an immediate end to military officers engaging with civilians in any shape or form, especially regarding the enforcement of local laws. I will use prisoners for subsidized labor wherever possible, in rebuilding Ghana’s infrastructure ie schools, libraries, hospitals etc in addition to assisting with the cleaning of our trash-infested environs. Their payback will be the requirement to learn more skilled labor such as plumbing, masonry etc that gives them an opportunity to re-assimilate themselves into labor force in our society once their sentences are served.

Ghana-military   ?  gharmybeating

This reform agenda is to include establishing proper public transportation systems for both taxis and trotros. The Ministry in charge of transportation will enact policy that subsidizes(tax breaks) those Ghanaians who invest in the transportation business while simultaneously insisting that they uphold stringent rules and regulations regarding the safety and condition of their vehicles and the ethics of their employees ie drivers and mates– they must train employees to pass a standardized road test for operating on our roads and highways and obeying the traffic laws. We invite investors to establish a world class railway system on a National scale to ease traffic and congestion in the Capital and other areas that are home to heavy commerce. Let me extend an invitation to those wealthy Ghanaians for an opportunity to leave an indelible legacy for their people by joining forces to build the National Railways Project. We will share this contract along with the one already established with the Chinese. I will review the merits of those existing contracts to find any loopholes in those contracts to ensure Ghana is the ultimate beneficiary of these projects. We have to establish standardized measures that takes into account the safety of citizens around these railways.

ghtrotro2  ? ghtrains2

I will be relentless in setting a 20-year agenda along with the most brilliant minds and innovators in our generation to modernize Ghana and bring it up to speed with current world standards. I will not take any breaks or vacations except for family emergencies or issues that absolutely require my direct personal attention. I will unite the people by speaking to you in a language you understand, one that articulates and echoes your struggle as my struggle. All Ghanaians as equally deserving of all privileges that come with progress.

ghkorlebu   ?   A man crosses a severely polluted river in the suburb of Agbogbloshie, in Accra, Ghana. When the rains come much of this waste will be washed to the sea.

The economy, will be re-structured to have the interests of businesses and consumers as its priority. Fair trade regulations that allow for competition and makes room for affordable credit. Our natural resources and commodities will be improved to earn their highest potential by finding buyers who will pay the worth of our goods or re-negotiate pricing by encouraging other African countries to join in a collective bargaining effort(seems more difficult than is stated but we have leverage using our various harbors as a bargaining tool with our neighbors to join the efforts is one simple tool at our disposal). No longer will we sell cocoa and gold for cheap and re-import them as expensive jewelry and exotic chocolate bars. I will insist that parliament reforms our tax code within 8-years of this speech. Parliament will be required to establish and enforce a law that resolves our lack of a working National Identification system. We will outsource it to the private sector if necessary but it will be done and become a requirement at birth. We will tax every person and/or entity that is engaged in any form of business in our economy.

ghgold2  ?  ghkaneshie

Yes, this requires a lot of money and trained personnel but for every educated Ghanaian with High school level education working menial jobs abroad or locally educated and out of work, your government will employ you for this worthwhile purpose. We’ll save money from Ministers who will no longer drive $100,000  Land Cruisers and inflating contract costs. That is scratching the surface of where we cut costs and invest the savings towards our more pressing issues. Prioritizing is a permanent staple in my leadership. We are not a socialist State nor do we aspire to be one but we embrace the responsibility for government to act in the areas that require the power and reach of government to solve those societal issues.

ghstreetking  ?  ghshoprite

We will reform the housing and development sectors. Establish industry standards that ensure that access to public amenities and utilities are established before any Real Estate can be built. No company or citizen can bypass these rules and regulations because the Minister of Interior will be required to establish an agency that is tasked with the sole purpose of inspecting these building sites. Every Minister of government will go through a rigorous vetting process with no partiality to political affiliations, contributions or nepotism. A mandatory quarterly cabinet meeting will be required and goals re-assessed and evaluated for progress. I will cut the red-tape that prevents branches of government from sharing essential information that benefits the Country. Ghana needs a really good manager. One who understand the world and is not bogged down with mysticism. A manager who can walk the line between coaxing the traditionalists and the religious no matter how mutually exclusive they are, and give assurances to both that their goals, however pressing or sacred, are secondary to National goals without alienating their loyalties. As a person with ties to the community established by predecessors before me, I will use that voice to  unite the Ghanaian community towards a common purpose. I will succeed because the tedious work required to establish such relationships already exists through familial ties.

ghana-slum  ?  ghnicehome

Management of a country is about utilizing resources and creating ways to generate revenue that aids in the progress and security of the country, simply put. To know the value of what we have and how to maximize its revenue without jeopardizing the countries viability/prosperity in the long term. Management is about managing people and their varying motivations, skills and work ethics to align behind one agenda; developing Ghana to improve the standard of living of its people. Management is about negotiating on behalf of the country in the most skilled way possible without compromising any intrinsic, extrinsic or monetary value to the country and coming out ahead, not the irresponsible and cowardly giving away of 90% of our oil resources to foreigners, done by our predecessors. Negotiating need not be that awful. I will re-negotiate every bad deal doled on us by our irresponsible predecessors and for those countries that choose to hold us captive to these terribly negotiated deals, we will respectfully tell them to get in line and wait for payment while privately telling them what Busia said to the Russians; Apeeey. In all seriousness, re-negotiate or HIPC II shall be the order of business.

ghoil2  ?     ghcocoa

How will I achieve all this? We do it together! Sounds idealistic and fairy tale-ish right? We can because I am humble, selfless and pragmatic. I will unite not divide, encourage not dismiss, serve not lord over. The human spirit for progress is universal and the Ghanaian is every bit just as human. I will not only paint a picture, I will help you find the best place to hang it on the right wall. I am not afraid of the work it requires because it is worth it. Most men follow, they just need to know who to follow. Because I know you need a leader like Askia Mohammad not a Mansa Musa. I know these things because I have endlessly been devout to the idea of pragmatic governance since I gained consciousness of right and wrong(age 9).  A blend of the positives of Confucius and Machiavelli. One who can take our long established traditions/cultural rules and re-interpret them to support the agenda of developing Ghana. I will have this speech translated to every one of our 9 Languages.

ghtradition  =  ghislam

We do not seek power for the sake of it but we maintain power because it is necessary to do what is right by the people for the people and for our progeny. I will be ruthless in upholding the law of the land but practical in making room for that and those who are on the outliers of our societal comforts, standards and expectations. We choose wisdom in order to establish security and prosperity. There is no peace amongst the starving and stifled and one day soon they will rise in violence if those trusted with power continually ignore them. We understand the common human desire to succeed and the need to allow room for all to have equal opportunity to achieve their dreams. Today, I take on the responsibility to shepherd you where you belong. Our healthcare system is one of the most deplorable by world standards, let us work to change that by valuing our medical professionals and investing in building state of the art healthcare facilities in place of  “Jubilee Houses”. There is no reason why we should be captive to Korle-Bu for any of our averagely complicated healthcare needs. We require that we have National emergency response in case of Natural disasters. My laundry list is long but I know they are yours too. We share the common desire as Ghanaians to change our trajectory and that is a great place to start.

gh37hosp    ?   ghhospital

Today, I realize that I will never be president but I hope to God a man like the one in this speech takes the reigns of our ship. Obama came and disappointed, regarding everything I believed in his “Yes We Can” speech for the most part but that is because we live in a world where men lack conviction. Not that he is Ghanaian but in a way, he gave so much hope and promise to the prospect of sound governance that all people across the world clung to his words. My purpose is not oratorical, instead, actionable. Those that come to power would rather be loved than do what is necessary. Scared of sacrificing self for the benefit of all. Monitoring polls and succumbing to the media agenda. I have news for you; if a plan is right and good for the people, a great leader will find support for it against all odds. Ghana is a small country, it lacks proper management/leadership. Are we simply too stupid and dumb to resolve our issues? I think not! We just need a leader who understands people and has a backbone to fight to do what is right by organizing his people for similar purposes and goals. I’m not your president but vote for a man who holds half these ideals and has the spine to fight for them and we’ll be better for it. If not, Ghana will never be what we all want it to be. You know what they say about how a fish rots? Head down! Yen Ara Ya ‘Saase Ni.

A man crosses a severely polluted river in the suburb of Agbogbloshie, in Accra, Ghana. When the rains come much of this waste will be washed to the sea.   ?   ghairportres

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Transcribed Muses

Jonah

Seances with sages

My life on your pages

 Erase me like erasers

 Your lies deserve praises

 Disguises of a saint

 My brush crashes on canvases

 The crimson paint can’t write the stanzas

 Yeah she had me spiritual

 Performing rituals with phone-lines

 Just to bone-hard, foolhardy

 Reason I wear glasses now

 I couldn’t see the writings on the wall

 I don’t know how that translated to a bigger dick

 Now I’m gonna need a thicker bitch

 But fuck it, I’m tryna get past rich

 Porter’s house got me staring at the pot

 Cook or serve? Dilemma of a Misnomer ..

            King Slave 

 All falls down and runs dry …

 Whatever I give is pure white

 Straight from a dark heart

 And my life is playing out like Taylor Swift’s nemesis

 Without the fanfare, the limelight …

 I removed my heart from my sleeve and deposited it in a CD

 The penalty to withdraw it will keep me chaste, sane …

 Its 8:17am and the feeling just escaped my window panes

GriOt.

APAE — (SHATTERED)

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On Debi Debi, M. Dot chastised journalists for their lack of fact-checking. I went into reviewing his previous project, IC:CtA assuming it was M.anifest’s newest album. Even though it wasn’t stated in the article, I reviewed it from that perspective and for that I apologize. It is still my honest evaluation of that album but some of the tangential thoughts would not have made the article if I knew Apae is his latest effort. In retrospect, I was speaking to what I hoped he’d grow into as an artist without knowing his full discography and Apae is a body of work that is actually exciting.

The introductory Singitdamnit, already slaps with the originality and grit that IC:CtA was lacking. The confidence of the presentation is quite obvious and holds your attention the entire 2:31 minutes. Someway Bi is a descriptive and inclusive lyrical dance about the realities of life in Ghana. From taxi drivers to chop bar workers, they get their share of shoutouts. This is buzz worthy art, hopefully the DJ’s show it the love it deserves on the radio.

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Ebei is inspirational, reminiscent and laid back. “Been doing this since the days of Karl Kani” is exactly the type of rhyming that creates those smiley moments when listening to a track by yourself because you can relate or makes you hit google to figure out who Karl Kani is (for you wack youngins – lol). Right Here busts open with a rather similar monikering by M.anifest of his name that sounds similar to Sarkodie’s signature drop. Ignoring that, this is an R&B driven track with vocals by Paapa doing his best impression of The Weeknd/Frank Ocean.

Debi Debi is exactly what was missing from IC:CtA. This is my favorite track because it is bold and brazen. He middle fingers critics with an honest view of the societal issues and cultural dogma that most artists shy away from for fear of possible backlash. For every young Ghanaian reformist youth, this is an exciting piece of poetry that really touches on issues that our society truly wants progressive change. I love this track. It is real and concise, doing the work of what great poetry does. He even addresses the way Ghanaians under value one another but are quick to reward foreigners with our pot of gold via the Chris Brown issue. The integrity of this track is so dope that I would have gladly paid $9.99 just for the single.

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Another stand out track is Big Sixes which I edited on Rapgenius.com before ever listening to it. Now that I’ve listened to the track, it is a better track than the lyrics read as at the time of that edit. It is part history lesson part flossy and other part an expression of pride in things that are indigenously Ghanaian. It gives value to who we are as a people and hopefully some kid who slept through Social Studies class will pick up on the importance of the Big Six to our history. The metaphorical effort deserves all the praise. He presents Dead Presidents or C.R.E.A.M in an original Ghanaian content-driven way without sounding duplicitous or imitative.

M.anifest’s artistic and lyrical growth carries this album. You can tell he is firmly in control of his ship and for his fans; this should be an exciting time to see what else is brewing in his camp. As an enthusiast of rap, my personal opinion is he picks a decent amount of cues and concepts from Hov. Examples: War of the roses (Break Up To Make Up), I understand the Lakers they got a legion of haters (Can’t Be Done freestyle), Only idiots will cut of their nose to spit their face (People Talking) etc and a few others but I could just be overusing my lyric databank for what it’s worth. I will rate this album as the most enjoyable body of work from a Ghanaian artist that I have listened to in a long time but then I had not been paying any attention until lately.

Apae is everything a fan hoped Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America would be. Support the music by copping your copy on iTunes or wherever it is being sold. Love.  4.5/5***

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Wonakobo Review

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Homecoming. A 12yr old wielding a mic on the main stage of the National Theater was surreal. The crowd exploded when the tongue-twisting verse of this kid was effortlessly rolling out just as well as any of the dope performers of the time. You had groups like, Natural Born Killers (NBK), Funky Funkture, Funkadelics & Nananom that had mad hype on the scene. He was rapping as part of the group Trendz of Culture. This lil dude was spitting that piff, fresh gear and all, wearing the attributes of a dope East Coast kid rapper, only difference is he’s a Ghanaian on a stage in Ghana.

This hall was packed, nostalgic..

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Leading up to this single, those of us who have been aware of his talent have sideline cheered him on to pursue the art full time. To his credit, he never fully shunned the craft even when life got in the way. Streets were calling. Now that his career is at its takeoff point, his first single embodies the controversial disposition with which he’s always lived his life. Wonakobo’s content is a case of art imitating life not vice versa. The sound is the grit and arrogance of those who have found their own path in life by defying the odds. Treasure’s affinity for Northern Ghanaian culture and language resonates in this track, sprinkling Hausa terminology into the pidgin laden verses while sticking a middle finger up to all perceived detractors.

It is an unassuming hit, unlike the typical club banger but rather one that grows into constant rotation in your playlist once you start peeling off the different layers of the track and the message in the song. The song title itself has a witty ambiguity that hasn’t quite caught on in even the nerdiest lyricism circles that I run in. Wonakobo in the Ga language simply means We Don’t See You. On a closer listen to the first verse, you begin deciphering the veiled second meaning which is Wona Kobo– in pidgin language that translates as “Our Pennies” or “Our Money” for broader context.  This is a hardnosed track that the young hustla can relate to. The record is making its rounds on radio and catching on fast so hopefully as the artist reveals more of his identity to fans; this track will be looked on as the homecoming of that lil dude that was slaying mics at the callow age of 12… Single available on iTunes. Keep it oha and cop it.

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aN OpinioN on Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America — IC:CtA

 

 


CRITIQUE

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The Talking Drums, an oft forgotten Ghanaian rap group came closest to presenting our version of HipHop in the 90’s. They embodied the fusion of the local youth perception of culture and its inevitable collision with HipHop. We did not completely identify with Highlife or much of the local music scene mainly because of the message. Young and rebellious, the age of knowledge of self was slowly integrating itself into the youth mindset. Pants sagging, slurring words with a very indignant view of authority, kids were looking for an outlet for their frustrations given  the many blockades to personal aspiration. Our narrow-minded parents mostly wanted white-collar professions for us. There was little to no room for exploring non-academic talent. You had to be an aspiring lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant or something along those lines. You would rather eat rocks than tell your parents that you plan to follow your dream of being a soccer player or a rapper, no matter how awesome your talent.

If you never heard of the Talking Drums–>

Enter Reggie Rockstone. There was what you’d call an underground HipHop scene bubbling in our various boarding schools, where rap and dance were the manifestation of our “cool”. You had to be involved in one or the other or you fell into the “deft class”. Rockstone gave it National validity. This dude was from London, had as pure an American(confused?) hood drawl as you could hear, gave a voice to our aspirations and culture in a way that none before him had accomplished, not even The Talking Drums with their very dope Aden video. Of course, you had other relevant contributors to the genre but none left as indelible a mark as Reggie. He shaped the narrative. The immigrant Ghanaian who sought greener pastures out West but for one reason or the other came to a definite realization of self and the need to go back home to his perceived throne. This is the genesis of this genre of music I call Afrimerican rap. Most of the earlier generations who had moved to Yanke never fully assimilated into African-American HipHop culture because they were always viewed as “other”. It was also the first place a Ghanaian or African kid would experience a different type of discrimination or stereotypes that made you feel less-than. Either you were proper selling out to fit in your new environment or you isolated yourself into circles that represented who you believed yourself to be —meaning any and all Africans in your neighborhood or school campus that probably had a similar cultural upbringing as you. The musical artists born out of this quandary seem to have developed an insatiable appetite to show and prove to African-Americans and by extension, the West that they too are worthy and/or just as dope if not fresher. After all, we can lay direct claim to our ancestral homeland Africa and claim to be royalty, our one trump card over those that had openly shunned and/or shamed us for being the African booty-scratchers they stereotyped us to be. A misguided ego is a motherfucker. It can eat at you and sometimes misdirects your energies or aspirations towards the very wrong targets.

This is the synopsis of the foundation of Ghanaian rap that shapes my opinion on the talented M.anifest’s album — Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America. It is a solid effort, considering the production and arrangement of the album. On third listen, I still can’t quite finger his perennial message. His lyrical ability is fragmentally brilliant, frequently  jolting you mid-rhyme awing at how well sequenced his choice of words are but then he manages the knack to anticlimax a potentially dope verse with lines like “peter piper picked a pair of pickle pepper” in full quote. Ghana-Must-Go welcomes you into this body of work with a collage of thoughts and styles, mixing local dialect with a pseudo African-Americanized drawl, similar intonations and variations of a Talib Kweli/Mos Def palette. He showcases a Back-packy style of rap over a jazzy track telling the tale of his journey to the West. The sentiments of the song express a reluctant decision born out of the desire for a better life and believing that America offered the best opportunity for these desires to come to life. Seemingly unaware of the challenges that the decision presents. The instrumentation is reminiscent  of jazz entangling with boom-bap, you can vibe to. For the critical listener, it is difficult to get past some of the misguided ideologies that he raps, which have been consistent in this Afrimerican genre. The idea that one willingly leaves home to go to a strange land in search of success and expecting anything but resistance and hardships speaks to a silly sense of self-importance and entitlement that I can no longer relate to. That attitude that blames Westerners for our voluntary acceptance of menial jobs as young foreigners with zero skills or qualifications working their way up in life blows me. Most people made the conscious decision to seek greener pastures abroad. It is almost like we blame the West for allowing us to come to their countries on our own volition and applying for these jobs that we consider “nkwasia ejuma”(fools jobs) or beneath us. I am not a Western apologist by a long shot but seems to me, these are very misguided thoughts and feelings towards the wrong group of people. I would think, we’d be directing our energies towards our lame fathers who have given us no real opportunities as youth in our independent Ghana. You’d think we’d be making records denouncing them for how woefully they have failed their progeny and left us with no choice but to leave our birth homes and toil for success in foreign countries by taking these so called undignified jobs. This is just my thinking though.

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The integration of the local languages ie Twi, Ga and Pidgin  into rap is an interesting dynamic of Afrimerican music. It attempts to authenticate the artist as a member of the local class but hesitates to fully embrace it. It comes off as a fear to be seen as uneducated or uncool, if one doesn’t have a good command of “slangs”. This creates a conundrum for most of these artists and M.anifest is just as guilty for this flaw. The intended target audience of Afrimerican music are Ghanaians and Africans who are yearning for their own voice in the world of music, one that represents our own stories but falls flat on its face when thoroughly examined. I’d rather a complete use of pidgin or a local dialect but now I’m pulling at thin air. Motherland sounds like a collaboration of Arrested Development and J. Dilla. Laments the plight of not being accepted but offers a perspective of a winning mentality against all odds. When Fiyah comes on, it is obvious the Reggae influence on the track– the line “spice our life without pepper or sauces” is one of those really? moments but definitely one to enjoy while blazed up for the herbalists. Good Day re-presents Ice Cube’s classic track of a similar name from the pen of a Ghanaian immigrant. The hook’s “sipping  on holy water” line is one of the few times throughout the album where I wonder what exactly M.anifest is trying to say.It is a melodic HipHop track, reminds you of cruising down some American highway on one of the off-days from some menial job. Blue seamlessly flows in continuing the mood and narrative of the previous track. By the time we get into Motion Picture, probably the closest we get to a personal testament of M.anifest’s experience and who he is, it is clear what I have suspected since the opening track. The view that immigrants are down-trodden and have begrudgingly abandoned their thrones back home in Ghana/Africa and have been relegated to feeling undignified about the  journey to success. There are a few more tracks which reiterate similar sentiments and notwithstanding the dope production, tracks like Asa which is carried by the soulfully glorious vocals of Efya, Kilimanjaro, Heaven & G.S.N.T, the trials of the deprived immigrant looking for his place and respect in a foreign land is a consistent theme. The one unifying theme on the album that I can applaud is the expression of a  common human denominator; the desire to prosper.

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Token Love Song breaks the monotony and it is quite a pleasant segue to what was slowly rapping its way into a narrative of whiny lamentations of an artist lacking the temerity to embrace the consequences of his choices in life. The quazi interlude before One Night Only featuring Eldee The Don gives credence to wanting to validate himself to Westerners. Obviously enjoying the spoils of celebrity and the females it gives him access to, M.anifest does a good job of letting his inner-pimp spit that slick game to the ladies. Over and Under takes us right back to the daily musings and shallow perils of the immigrant narrative being told throughout IC:CtA. Lines like “gifted like bronya” reminds you of his Afrimerican lyrical prowess, a sense of appreciation that those who don’t speak or understand Twi will never fully appreciate. Probably the most lyrical effort on the entire album where he is damn near flawless with the lyrical ability. The eerie beat and lyrical dexterity gives hope of what the potential of this niche genre can evolve into. Coming to America is more of the same but with a familial twist. You can hear his noble aspirations of wanting to fulfill his potential by following his heart. The Prince Akeem visual is present.  It is good to hear a young Ghanaian artist embrace the responsibility of fatherhood and strive to do right by his son. There are moments on this album when he dares to touch on relevant social issues like the conditions and expectations placed on young women in Ghana but he shies away from tackling the subject in depth. Sunsum Praye(Spirit Broomreminds me of an Obrafour track that I can’t remember the title to at the time of publication. This is a beautifully dark yet uplifting track. M.anifest is in his element conjuring ancestral spirits to guide his path in life. It closes the album out in a sobering fashion. The kid reading at the end of the track I’m sure represents something profound or revealing but I missed its purpose. Hopefully others who got it can provide insight.

M.anifest seems challenged by exactly what approach to take in drawing an audience. He almost reminds you of the challenges the better half of the Fokn Bois, Mensa faced in the earlier stages of his career. It is obvious he is most comfortable “slanging” but his audience tend to go to American HipHop for their fix of that version of the genre. The album had so much potential to touch on the darker ignored truths of life as an immigrant and really chain a captive audience to his story but it is rather a flaccid attempt at wiping off makeup instead of peeling the face off and revealing all that hides behind the pretenses and silent agonizing and/or triumphs of the immigrant. The message feels hollow and nothing tugged at my heart to want to know the artist on a deeper level, the kind of fan that wants to be a lifetime fan. I’d give him the benefit of doubt that he was less revealing to protect those who are still living the realities of immigrant life from the authorities. He’ll probably be more impactful and increase his “cool factor” if he did away with the overbearing traditional gab and stuck to his decorative beads and accessories over clean Tees but that is the designer in me talking. If you read this M.anifest, holla at Kwame Adjaye, he’ll lace you with some Sons of Elizabeth freshness. :).

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At some point, HipHop culture must have agreed that all Africans or Blacks are Kings and Queens by default. This feeds that stupid notion that in the pursuit of success, there are certain jobs that are undignified. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with starting from the bottom and embracing the struggle so long as the focus is skewed towards a better standard of living. Nothing more pretentious than this new age  inspiration that we are above basic work. Ghanaian youth like any youth demographic need to appreciate work ethic not shun it. This is not a direct projection on M.anifest or his movement but the power of the influence of the art form can help re-shape the future trajectory and mindset of the Ghanaian youth.

Support the music, pay for the art you consume. Fans make very little of the fact that piracy is thievery. Especially for artists like M.anifest who have a niche audience. It is very important that we support our artists by not stealing their work. M.anifest has the skill and musicality to be a permanent fixture, if he chooses to reach for the hearts of the fans. It will be great to see him grow into a more authentic representation of the modern Ghanaian youth and give voice to the realities of daily life for both immigrants and people back home. 3.5/5 ***

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FLEETING DREAMS

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Optimism is only good if you have a means to reach the goal. Like who the fuck comes up with these elaborate complex explanations for fucking up in life? You either are a risk taker or a safe type’a personality. You grow up with these dreams and aspirations and then comes a point when you realise that you either don’t have what it takes to achieve those desires or you are gonna have to do a certain number of things that either are completely against your sense of integrity of self or you don’t have the necessary connections to bring these ideas to life. It can be frustrating and/or upsetting. You read all these books that recommend positivity in attitude and go-getter-ness but never explains how shit works in real life. Yes, you can have all the ambition and vision in the world but those dreams require funding– CAPITAL! You need credit(an investor) if you don’t have family that will set you up and front the money for your dreams.

If you are like me, the prospect of selling drugs can become infinitely appealing except you realize, it is not b’cos you lack the balls to risk engaging in that line of work, you just don’t find the prospect of jail time as a worthy opportunity cost against the alternative of working a 9-5 hoping you save enough money to one day bring this dream of yours to life. There are so many intangibles that none of these self help books really talk about. It is like a fucking fairy tale these self-help books. The truth is, most people, for no real fault of their own fall into the rigmarole of the 9-5 work cycle and get stuck in it because if being rich was as easy as described in self-help books, more people will be rich than are poor. Am I making sense yet? This is the bottom line, if you are not in a position to gain traction for success through education or privilege or affiliation, whatever the reason may be, your other choices for success are either through friends, family or luck(very rarely) or you gotta go balls to the wall and amass some capital through illicit means or difficult disciplined saving. The lottery is not a guaranteed route either. How many of you know lottery winners in real life? Like one of those mega million winners? It could all be fairy dust as far as I”m concerned but it also could be that I’m way too pessimistic.

So here comes the real fucker.. If you are an introverted asshole type who doesn’t really enjoy sucking up or kissing ass and you have great ideas and shit but no connections, friends or family that believe and support your dream, you are probably anally fucked. You are sitting back reading this like this dude is a real downer, like zero positivity comes off of his lobster shaped fingers. I am just speaking for the struggle of many that I know. We may be in the minority as far as facts and truth go but I’m too anti-social to know for certain if people outside my limited bubble or experience actually feel the same way. Like that sick feeling I get when I read a book about how a Zuckerberg or Gates made it by just believing in their dreams and ideas and just dropping out of college! For every Zuckerberg, there are an exponential number of dropouts who have now settled to selling insurance or cars or some stupid tiring pyramid scheme to earn a living because the clock and realities of adult life caught up too quickly to them. The rent doesn’t understand your dreams nor does it care. Your car will not run on hope and neither will your tummy accept words of wisdom from your favorite success guru to satisfy its hunger. Survival is a dream killer.

This is what I’ve learned in my short time on earth. Procrastination is a motherfucker for real. When you are at the age where life’s responsibilities haven’t totally gripped you by the balls, take any and every calculated risk you can, don’t even shy off it. When you have the opportunity to save towards your dreams and goals, do it zealously and don’t let some dumb, funny acquaintance of yours convince you that fronting him the cash to organize his stupid party will yield more dividends than your CD account. Tell him to go fuck himself along with his 3-inch tribal mark. This is not a game. Be selfish; this is the best advice one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever known gave to me. Then again, her selfishness led to her marrying a bum-ass nigga who stuck her with several consecutive pregnancies and made a house wife out of her by default. All her dreams are now selfishly hovering her increasingly chubby face. This is your fate: You grow and keep company with other miserable women in unhappy marriages because the only time they get to show pride in their relationships are at boring outdoorings and silly weddings of people who have inter slept with at least 7 attendees at the wedding. Who gives a shit though, right?

This is what I’m getting at; life is so unpredictable. You gotta be assertive and make those bold decisions when you have little to nothing to lose or you can settle in for a regular life doing regular routine crap and thanks to social media, pretend your real life is as interesting as you imagined it will be when you were 18. Long rant came outta no where but when I get a stream of consciousness about these things, I just write ’em. You may pick a thing or three or just negativity but at minimum, any reaction is welcome..

Oh, I almost forgot my point. Success comes because you have several necessary ingredients in place. The following are however inalienable to that end; Idea, Capital, Ambition, Market Viability and Work Ethic. Get those things in place, and you can forget about any self-help book and save your $20 towards your dreams.