Kofi Kinaata, the Fante rap god, won my heart from the very first day I had the benefit of listening to anything from him. From that point on, I have always craved for his next song after I have barely consumed the last one.
Nelson Mandela is credited to have said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart”. It goes without mention that Kofi KInaata sings predominantly in the Sekondi-Takoradi Fante slang. Being a Sekondi-Takoradi Fante speaker myself, like Kofi Kinaata, I guess that underscores why I am able to almost always fully grasp the content of his works and fall in love with same.
I observe, however that in the case of non Sekondi-Takoradi Fante speakers, it often takes too long to understand the things he sings about, especially the manner in which he does, talk less of non Fante speakers.
Kofi Kinaata’s latest master piece, ‘Never Again’ is yet another philosophical classic that you need not just listen to, but understand to fully appreciate the talent of the young man who epitomizes “the best comes from the west”. This reason among others makes the temptation irresistible to write a review.
Kofi Kinaata takes off with a reminder to all who can hear in the first verse, probably to those who have had to travel miles away from home to hustle, that everyone else is making progress and so if you find yourself ‘here’, be smart and make it happen. While you do so, prove to your detractors who felt they would sink you that you’re a shark so “you go survive”. Except that don’t allow others to take you for granted and ‘use you’. Get paid your due, always!
The refrain of the piece is even more instructive, especially in a politically polarized society like Ghana, where every election, no matter how inconsequential, has a tendency to be violent. With a major election coming up in 2020, he states categorically that (political) party quarrels, brawls and confrontations will not be tolerated. Neither will money & time wasting activities such as, partying/‘chilling’, watching unending television series’ and being present at all religious (church) activities all week round. These, he emphasizes as things we must substitute with hard work and faith in God, and see things get better. These sentiments are illuminated in verse 2 by Shatta Wale. He also calls upon the youth to make money, but through the appropriate route and reliance on God, “as i dey look for the money, as i dey follow the journey, as i dey cry on my god”.
For fans of Kofi Kinaata who love him for his witty rap lines, you are served a thought provoking one in ‘Never Again’. He reminds us of the almost innumerable life’s recurrent financial demands, “your rent , your prepaid(electricity bills), then comes the school fees” as compelling reasons why we must keep to our respective hustles, lest you are left lonely and at the risk serving ‘gari soakings’ at your wedding reception,( i.e if you can afford one). “if you’re broke, you’ll become lonely,you’ll risk serving gari soakings at your wedding reception”
Kinaata further likens life to boxing, wrestling, karate and entreats his audience not to be static. If one thing doesn’t work, be bold, make a change! If you fail at an attempt, re-strategize and bounce back even stronger. He again reechoes calls for youth of today to wise up and live within their means. He preaches against shirking parental responsibility in pursuit of ‘side chics’. “life isn’t static, if you try boxing, wrestling and you fail, try karate. If you fail, start again from scratch, and when you bounce back, punch it harder. This year, be wise, wear just what you can afford, don’t rush to wear design. This year, get a wife, lest a side chic deceives you and wastes your money in Dubai”.
In the rap lines “Nobody has anything for you and I. Stop complaining that the system is messed up, even manna has ceased falling”, Kinaata maintains that life is really what one chooses to make it. He alludes to Joshua 5:12 of the Holy Bible, where it is recorded that the heavens ceased raining manna for the Israelites, to urge all to stop complaining and blaming everyone else for their woes and hustle poverty away.
The wit Kofi Kinaata divulges in ‘Never Again’ is not one that surprises music lovers who have followed his craft. Songs like ‘Susuka’, ‘Sweetie Pie’, ‘Time no dey’, ‘Last Show’, ‘The Whole Show’ etc. are pieces that together make an excellent case for the ‘Fante Rap god’ as an incredible song writer. It will only take an ‘out of the world’ writing prowess by another musician to beat Kinaata for the ‘best song writer’ award at any music award in Ghana.
By Ato Kwamina Otoo
The writer is the host of ‘Late Drive’ on Connect 97.1FM, Takoradi