NINJA GAIDEN

A tuna sandwich. Damn Good Advice. Granite kitchen countertop. Zeppelin Air and NINJA GAIDEN. This is the setting where I paint my thoughts about KiddBlack’s first official body of work.

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I’m on my 17th full listen, in 3-months. I’m trying to finger this record’s place in my rotation. Music has a wider reach than when I first fell in love with HipHop.. In ’92, Benzino mattered; Elliot Wilson mattered, in the hiphop fan landscape even more so for kids in Ghana lusting after hiphop. Their opinion was the benchmark of dopeness. Custodians and curators of the culture so to say. It mattered what they thought and how many mics an MC got. No more.

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The music landscape has grown and become instantly accessible just as it is disposable. All year I’ve only had IYRTITL in constant rotation, then I added Treasurechest’s Heaven and Ojuelegba(surprisingly) — I’m a snob of sorts..When NG  landed in my email, I was ready to listen with a critical ear. Kiddbkack likes a lotta weed and fellatio as an ongoing theme of NINJA GAIDEN and he doesn’t hesitate to tell you in so many stylistic ways. I first heard Kidd’s work 2-years ago and I was stunned. 17yr old from Tema, rapping his ass off and sounding like a New Yorker. It was thrilling even in the hypocrisy of my excitement. There was this conundrum. I love my hiphop authentic, down to the accent. I often cringe at the manufactured accents of some of Kidd’s predecessors and it takes away from the music, even godfather Reggie’s accent was screechy to me. This isn’t an indictment on any of those artists but for me, it was wonderfully thrilling to hear a kid sound this dope, be from Ghana and be on par with the authentic New York HipHop I enjoy.

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The sampling and production on the opener, Baby— is synths and soul, a welcoming sound of plowing down in a couch to catch a classic karate flick. Popcorns out. The flow is lethargic good. Kidd flirts with introspective lines that seem to conceal a desire to maintain the toughness of a street dude but shows streaks of sentiment in flashes. 3months is a long time to digest an album or piece of art. Now that the record has simmered down in my mental hard drive, the feeling is Ninja Gaiden is a showcase of an artist trying to merge authentic rap with his own roots and doing a damn fucking awesome job at it. Best Guys is another standout track that presents Kidd holding more than his own in trading verses with one of the seminal artists of this generation  in E.L and it’s anybody’s 10-count on the canvas. By the time the track is over, you can see the shadows of two artists who are aware of their footwork under the microscope of scrutiny and doing what is needed to show flair and spark.

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Ninja Gaiden is an aspirational testament to where Kidd wants to go. Literally sleep with your girlfriends, amass a lot of money and take care of his family,– typical rapper tale. However, on the title track and Vibrations, he reveals what makes him potentially the most intricate and sophisticated writer from the African HipHop scene the way he weaves couplets and thoughts to express the emotions of the complexities of what modern youthful love entails.

“This here for a couple niggas love a couple bitches, This here for a couple bitches love a couple niggas. Bitches get they heart broke, fuck a couple niggas. Niggas get they heart broke role a couple swishas.”

This couplet is brash, vulgar and raw but introduces the listener into the heart and minds of two young people in love and wondering what the future is bringing their way. The use of the actual phone conversation  is as personal as any moment for anywho who’s been in a relationship. My personal favorite and it treats HipHop’s glaring chauvinism in the context of art where it’s still safe to be balls in your hand differentiating between ho and wife material. I think it’s important to separate the art from real life advances about respect for the sexes but sometimes I just wanna enjoy the bad ole raw dirty hiphop and that’s as honest as it may be wrong. The record is laced with heavy doses of desire, materialistic and of the big booty variety. It sometimes becomes innundating but the production does well to distract from the monotony in the subject matter.

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My takeaway from this record is Kidd is the future of rap from Ghana and Africa. The internet as stated before has made music very accessible and he shows a lot of potential to connect with kids from any corner HipHop that want a fresh sound. My standout tracks are Euphoria Forever, Fun & Games, Best Guys, Ninja Gaiden, Vibrations and Kyushojustsu Flow in no exact order. The future of Gh rap is exciting. On any stage in boardinghouse secondary school, Variety or Entertainment Night was an outlet for us creatives and we tried to put on and showcase our talents as best as we could. They’re but memories that we can only recite and to think that the youth get to nurture their talent and make careers off them more  freely is a welcome dynamic. Mensa was a pioneer, trended off to other forms of artistic expression but in retrospect, Kidd represents what Mensa was to my generation growing up. The nicest MC, spitting like we shouldn’t question his authenticity and that’s trill. Get Ninja Gaiden.

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Excellence. Passion

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I’ve always been drawn to the the best. In any endeavor, be it sport, art or music, design, writing, you name it. I’m of the mindset that, if one decides to engage in any field, their primary goal should be to produce the best work they are capable of or refrain from engaging at all. This is illogical from an entrepreneurial perspective because it can hold up revenue and one could miss their place in the market and all the logical reasons that business studies show. I’m still not moved to the contrary. My passion is design. Fashion and design are the two areas that I am absolutely passionate about and confident in my natural ability. I wanted to go to Parsons for the prestige and the recognition, not because I thought my vision was any less excellent. I love the craft and don’t see any reason why I can’t be excellent at it if I had the right capital so I can work with the right manufacturers to bring my vision to life.

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I was watching Dede Ayew literally weep off the field in the devastating loss Ghana endured in the African Cup of Nations final in Equatorial Guinea. As an avid patriot, one who has loved and been heartbroken so many times watching the Black Stars take one narrow loss after the other, I can certainly appreciate his pain. Those tears were a manifestation of the young man’s passion. He couldn’t help the weight of the sense of loss and failure. In 1992, Abedi Pele was the greatest soccer player in my eyes. He was a god to me as he was to many football fans from where I’m from. The ponytail, the nimble left foot with which he devastated opposing defenders, shredding them apart with a skill that is only describable as magical. That number ten on his back, the name Pele attached to his, he made me feel like as a Ghanaian, our ability to achieve was real and doable. So imagine how Dede feels. He probably took to the pitch on Sunday with the weight of that loss on his back ten fold. We had to right that wrong because to us Ghanaians, no way would we lose to the Ivorians if Abedi was in the ’92 finals. He had incurred a questionable yellow card in the Semi-Finals against Nigeria. A game in which he scored arguably one of the most skillful and perplexing goals in the history of the sport with that back head-flipper to secure Ghana a spot in the Finals. On that day, we lost because our superman was on the sidelines, reduced to a spectator. Then we lost. I wept so much, my granddad threatened to make me weed the compound if I didn’t stop my hysteria. He was not amused. I did the same tear-shedding when Maradona lost the 1990 World Cup to Germany , only this time my crying was audible and irritating. Everyone in the house looked at me as though I was weak and crazy. Why was I crying over a football loss? I can’t explain it. It is just how my passion is set up I guess.

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The respect for excellence in craftsmanship is  only validated when we are able to achieve at the highest level of performance. That is when we feel some sort of sanity and sense of accomplishment because our best work won. I draw inspiration from that. As much as I could easily be putting out average looking products on the market and feel happy to have some goods to sell, I refuse to. I have stalled so much that, often times. I start to think that I will never get my shot at showing the world the vision of design we harbor. It is draining. However, this is what I have resolved; If our products are not world-class and competitively just as good as any world-renowned brand and have a realistic chance to compete and best the premier brands of the world, then I’d rather not have any products at all. We want to introduce a brand that is of the highest quality, that gives value and emotional attachment to the consumer but most importantly a sense of pride to Ghanaians and Africans, that a product made by one of their own is just as good if not better than any other brand from the world of fashion that they patronize. The best or nothing.

This is the message: We have the ability and know-how. To be passionate about our crafts and excel at it is what I saw in the tears of Ayew yesterday. It inspired me to see someone care that much about what they do. I hope that same passion drives you in whatever field you are in as a Ghanaian. The passion to excel. Go Stars!

God’s Bias

Is God biased? I wonder if this question ever crosses the minds of T.B Joshua, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Agyeman and Bishop Duncan Williams etc. These men, for all intents and purposes, are very successful men. They have improbable stories, the nothing-out-of-something narrative. Yet, their success is equally as visible for all to see. It would seem abnormal for them to question God, given their personal success. However, the flock they lead are facing dire challenges. Ghana and Nigeria, are facing some very challenging social  and economic issues at the moment. These men of God, they pray all the time. I think they genuinely believe that they are the chosen men of God who have direct access to Him.

We won’t get nuanced with the idea of whether or not God chooses specific men over others to lead His flock, or the counter-idea that suggests a serious level of egoism required to believe one’s self that important and special to have been chosen by God. This is not a mental exercise of that sort. The inquiry here is more about the bias of God, if there is such a thing. For as long as we’ve been praying in Ghana and Nigeria, casting out devils, demons and a variety of spirits that will give any liquor store in ghetto, USA a challenge, it makes one wonder when God will have some mercy.

The westerners who introduced faith to the continent, long ago stopped using magical faith as a foundation for building tangible, verifiable and impactful progress. To lay hands over the Akosombo Dam is more asinine than going to solicit a witch-doctor’s help to conceive a child. We prayed for the Cedi. We are praying for the Dam. We’ve been praying for a decent leader, one who has a plan for progress and the people’s interest at heart. A selfless one. Are the men of God, praying for the people to remain ignorant of the resources God has already blessed them with so the leaders can keep charging the masses for more prayers or  they genuinely believe that God’s blessing is delayed for a purpose? These are questions I’d like answers to and you should want answers to as well. Better still, we should be protesting against incompetence in every public sector institution and demand better. Maybe God is biased in how He doled out courage.  Maybe..

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Body Count

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Disclaimer: I have evolved over the years into quite the liberal on the subject of promiscuity. My views on sex have come along for this journey of maturity even though to my credit, my thoughts have always been on the outlier of our cultural tenets. To simplify it, I was never the guy interested in bedding the virgin so some of my thinking may be biased in that sense. That is to say, most guys, especially Ghanaians, will not share these same liberal attitudes so do not take my disposition on the subject as a pathway to getting that ever coveted wedding ring that you’re under pressure to receive. Read with caution.

Before we get into it, let me just say that the concept of Body Count has always been a sexist idea, yet with tangible reason.

 

Sex in our culture is generally treated as a no-go zone until you are married even though most of us live to the contrary, including the elders that preach said chastity, be it in the name of Religion or Tradition. It is considered as a sacred act fit only for marriage and typically as a woman’s duty to her husband and consequently a form of reward to the man. This premise influences the concept of body count to a significant degree. It is a direct indication of a woman’s value based on the patriarchal order of our society. We will explore the whys in the next paragraph before I get into my own personal views on why it shouldn’t matter if all things are truly equal.

 

Ghanaian women, in general are raised to believe that their existence is only validated if they become a Mrs. You are raised to cater to a man’s needs, cook and clean for him, how to serve him and how to nurture his ego and be the manager of his home and the children born to the marriage. These are the determinants of a woman’s  value. These ideas are based in the traditional set up of man being the bread winner, head of the household — what he says goes, The Oga. Women are trained to manipulate this situation as best as they can, mostly by using their sexuality to manage this duty. It seldom works to their benefit because a lot of the men manage to find ways to get their sexual desires satisfied outside their marriage and it is an unwritten yet accepted rule that men will do what they gotta do and women are also trained to prepare for that and accept it. Women are not expected to resist or rebel but rather preserve their marriages regardless of how unsatisfied they may be in the marriage. Stepping outside of your marriage for sexual reasons is taboo for women. The underlying doctrine being, you shame your husband and bruise his ego. You take away his respect. He becomes a Kwaadonto.

 

This is the why: Men are raised to work hard, to become financially successful in order to be able to support a woman and kids. That is his most important defined role in addition to being the protector. All his hard work is to fulfill this purpose. The kind of woman he can marry is a direct correlation to his financial worth. This is what forms his view of women and their value to him. In addition to all her domestic qualities, she should be pure or in simpler terms, quite new if not absolutely new.  Of course, there are other sensible reasons why a non-promiscuous woman is projected as a smart choice for marriage, including having the peace of mind to work and earn a living without worrying about his wife doing full splits for random men while he’s away working etc etc. However, the most important bit of the equation is, after you’ve worked hard to become successful, your investment in a wife should be perceived as a valuable investment. A woman who has slept with the town army and the neighboring city soldiers is then not exactly viewed as valuable because she is “easy”. The best explanation would be, why invest in a used car with the same amount of money that will buy you a brand new one? Sounds logical, right? Your wife — your possession’s value is based in large part to this idea. This is the traditional setting. So if you’re a woman who wants to be taken care of by a man in all these ways, financially etc then you can understand how this is a fair assessment for men who are raised with the equivalent beliefs you have.

 

Here is the problem: We as a people have changed. Women are a lot of times the bread-winners or care-takers of their households. They are professionals, working sometimes more than their husbands. Educated, with their own dreams, goals and ambitions. They aspire to be more than just incubators and househelps. Their sexual appetites are not rooted in the premise of dutiful wife. They wanna try the wild positions and enjoy sex like their bodies dictate. They are looking for that satisfaction too. They are just like men because they are just as human. The men have mostly decided to take their leeway of being allowed to be promiscuous more importantly than their homely duties. Sometimes abandoning their families to start new ones and ignoring any of the conditions that came along with being husband and head of household. Our society frowns on women with failed marriages and devalues them on the fact that they may be unmarried mothers or unwed at certain ages so the trade-off of re-marrying or living single is less liberating and worthwhile for them.

 

With this history, the younger generation is much more reluctant to be governed by these traditional expectations. If we are being brutally honest, girls are constantly getting sexual advances in their teenage years, from their boy peers, older men with money and their own sexual desires. It is a bit silly to expect that level of chastity from them. Men and boys are wanting their women to be a combination of the traditional woman they’ve been raised to deem valuable and an Amber Rose or your pick of the litter of women who own their sexuality. So, we want to marry a pure woman who cooks, cleans, is great with the kids, has a well paying job, holds awesome conversations and fucks like a prostitute. We want them to give up themselves for men and still uphold our obscured perception of what gives them value. This can not be, it is simply unrealistic and impossible.

 

So, here is what I think: Body count is a personal choice. You should never allow anyone to determine your value based on the number of sexual partners you’ve indulged. The difficulty comes with being the woman who wants to be taken care of in the traditional sense described above. You have to be aware of the rules of those traditional expectations and live by them. Or, you can accept what you are and decide to be happy with yourself not being valued based on whether you have a wedding ring or not. I believe women are just as sexually active as men if not more and that is partly due to how many sex proposals they receive on a daily basis from all kinds of people including other women. It is illogical to expect them to turn down all these opportunities just because of some old traditional values that they’ve witnessed screw their mothers and aunties and friends into misery-ridden lives. They are getting it in, believe me on this.

 

If you have to ask a girl for her body count, you are approaching this thing wrongly. How can you ever be sure she is telling you the truth? It is quite silly. I know you’ve been told to multiply by three whatever number she gives you but believe me, if you truly love someone and you are happy with them, trust them and believe those feelings are reciprocal, it would or should be the least of your concerns. If your value as a man should not be determined by your past actions including all the sex you’ve paid for at Circle then you should afford women the same respect and pass you give yourself. You cannot have it both ways. If you are a traditional man who fits the mold of the above definitions then there are plenty women who will fit that criteria, find them and stop asking other women who do not ascribe to this tradition to conform. You will live a lie and get your puny heart ripped apart. If you are a woman who wants her sexuality to be her own, stop looking for traditional relationships that base your worth on your body count. The two different ideas will never merge because their basic expectations  are inherently opposite.

 

You cannot go about, having sex with women, enjoying it, then disrespect them for that very reason. All the past girlfriends you left in the wake of your exploits may have had expectations that it was going to last forever and now that you’ve moved on to the next vagina, why reduce their value to the fact that they had sex with you and therefore are undeserving of respect and dignity? Some guy has to marry her after you, no? If Ghanaian women would stop defining their worth and value on the idea of being marriage-worthy or being proposed to as the highlight of their lives, maybe they would care less about body count and approach their sexuality from a more personal decision basis and enjoy it as nature has made for it to be enjoyed. You can have multiple partners and be dignified about it in the level of responsibility you assign to your promiscuity.

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Here is where I land, in a fair view, body count should not determine a person’s worth. People deserve respect because they are human and that should be the end of it. It is not incumbent on us to be biased about whether or not a person deserves happiness and love based on how many people they’ve slept with. Unless, your expectations are in conflict with your actions, how you’ve lived and how you are living — your true desires should be what you live for. Unless you are just a ho.. male or female.. LOL

That Time Adam Sandler Went to Africa

I agree with all of this but my response is, it is so because we as Africans have collectively failed in educating the world about our stories. Our independent and separate cultures and civilizations. Even to the very obvious fact that Africa is a continent, not a Country. Spot on rant btw, I got the chuckles.

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Ok, first of all, let’s get this unarguable fact out of the way: Adam Sandler is NOT hilarious/funny/comical in any way, shape, or form. All his movies are one wackjob after another of epically poor comedy. Somehow, he’s a popular, accomplished Hollywood actor, which is fine. Really, it is; Americans are not exactly famed for their wise choices in whom they bestow the privilege of celebrity (See: Snooki, pre-2014 KardashJenners, Miley Cyrus’ non-twerking rear etc.). So, yeah, I have hitherto let Adam Sandler blur into the mass of white Americans that are famous for absolutely nothing in particular…until now.

So Adam Sandler has a new movie out called “Blended”, starring his co-talentless Hollywood pal, Drew Barrymore. The trailer:

Quick recap:

Adam goes on a karmically bad date with Drew, and they somehow happen to know the same person who has TWO tickets to Africa, this person gives them the tickets…

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Bar Tape Review… Twisted off Remy Martin V.S.O.P..

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Hubris. Humble Emcees never ruled hiphop. Honest. You gotta talk yo shit and back it up, no sewage or Korle, Boorle? Ight then, lets get into it.. E.L is navigating his place to the upper echelons of the local music scene with what I’d call the elements required to hold your fellow artists in the industry’s attention. Wiz Khalifa’s mixtape of the same moniker had me wondering if E.L cared that the public would compare the  two projects and call him out on jacking the name? Jay Z’s Blueprint will always be remembered over KRS One’s album of the same title because of the content of the album and the hubris required to pay homage to a great body of work and still eclipsing it with skill is what E.L displays on this mixtape.

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Best African rapper is the braggadoccio of 90’s hiphop mixed with the 2000’s marketing flair of a Lil Wayne. The attention such a title draws to the music scene and the conversations it sparks generate interest in the genre. That is a 350lb ape beating its chest and inviting all the bullets from the doubters. “This is what I believe and fuck it, you gon’ hear it.” Track itself is eerie with a laid back flow that brings a concise blend to the marriage of pidgin and hiphop lingo.

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I am usually against the idea of free music/mixtapes/EP’s etc so when I saw this being promo’d a week ago I said nothing but thought it a wasted effort. I was waiting to listen because as an artist, E.L, like a lot of talented artists in Ghana and the African continent are constricted or confined by the audience they have. You typically can’t be as expressive or artistic to your complete potential because the cultural climate doesn’t allow it. Here is a rapper who is blazing the trail for how to navigate that 5-legged beast.

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This is easily album-quality music, from a production and content standpoint and if you are an E.L fan, you’d definitely get excited about his future prospects as an artist. The mixtape is stoopid, vibe to it, do what you do and exudes a kick-it type feel. The song by song breakdown is that he  never gave a moment on the tape where you questioned the source of his Afadgato sized ego. Rapping about taking niggas’ girls is so cliche but it never gets old. It is always funny when you can find creative ways to turn skits to skittles and make it skitty… Some of the hooks do get repetitive on a few of the joints but overall, this is way dope. Like sex with your girlfriend in a cab on Oxford Street dope.. The cab driver questioning your etiquettes in vivid Twi  dope. Or calling out your Pastor for wearing a du-rag dope. American passport over Ghana passport dope. Second-hand smoke getting the girl next to you horny dope. I fuxs with it. I’m glad the mixtape is this dope so I did not have to rip him ‘cos that woulda been awkward dope.. LOL

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I would rate it an excellent effort for a mixtape and he has put his competition on notice. The skits are fresh.

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Short Word

Time and what you do with it. Remember that time changes and people right along with it. No matter the adversity, don’t compromise who you are for anything or situation. When you put in so much and get water in your palms just let the wetness dry and try again.

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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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