It may be difficult for some people to figure out how they can love a person and at the same time not like the fellow. That is, however, no problem at all for Okyeame Kwame and he boldly states it on the tracks Medo Mmaa Nanso Mempe Mmaa, which appears on his new collection of songs called M’awensem, which translates as ‘My Poetry’ in English.
Kwame introduces the song in stanzas indicating how he has girlfriends in various locations like Kumasi, Nsawam, Koforidua, Accra, London and New York.
He describes the girls as being short, tall, fair and dark with names such as Adwoa, Akua, Afua, Abena, Maa Yaa, Akos, Adiza, Abiba and Memuna.
His problem is that he loves them all but does not like them and that the girls love him but are irritating.
He refers, for instance, to one of them at Bantama in Kumasi as someone who speaks very good Fante and another, a student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) who was a ‘Dada ba’ and another at Krofrom also in Kumasi who is also being courted by four ‘bogas’.
He says even though the ‘bogas’ own luxurious cars, the girl prefers to drive in a taxi with him (Kwame).
So is this the real lifestyle of Okyeame Kwame?
“No, I have time and patience for pampering women, but the aim is not to end up in bed with them”, Okyeame Kwame explained in an interview with the Graphic Showbiz in Kumasi.
He said his idea for the song was to try and show the lifestyles of some guys when it comes to women but on top of it all, “my idea was to induce humour.”
He said he decided to name his new album ‘My Poetry’ because he thinks rap is nothing but ‘poetry in motion’ and that the album is the “deepest thing I’ve done so far.”
Other songs on the album are Kwame Ghana, Mmere, Odo Nkyen, Anaa, Woso, Odo Wo Owuo Akyi, Woani Nso Anaa, Yentu nsuo mu and Tutu and all the songs on the album are done in stanzas just like how poems are written in stanzas.
Kwame Ghana talks about problems associated with chieftaincy in Ghana, corruption in the entire society, brain drain and other societal problems.
It was rendered with acoustic guitar accompaniment featuring George Sprazz, a Teaching Assistant working with Agya Koo Nimo at KNUST.
Mmere featuring Kwabena Kwabena talks about how Okyeame Kwame would have preferred to live his life if he had the opportunity to turn back the hands of time.
Politically, he said, he would have advised Nana Kwamena Ansah, the chief of Elmina during whose reign Europeans first docked on the shores of this country, that they were going to turn us into slaves so they should not be entertained.
He said he would also have advised Okomfo Anokye to use the Golden Stool not only as a symbol of unity for Ashantis alone, but for all Ghanaians. Again he would have advised Dr Kwame Nkrumah that the American CIA was planning to overthrow him in order to dislodge his African unity ideas.
On Wani Nso Anaa which features Samini, Kwame talks about two lovers expressing their love for each other. Tutu features Kofi B and it talks about how people try to pull down colleagues making progress in life.
Woso, a dancehall rhythm, is becoming popular on campuses and in the night clubs. It talks about the day to day problems facing mankind and why the problems need to be put aside since crying about them do not necessarily bring about solutions.
Each song has a central theme and and a concept it addresses just as poems are used to address issues.
Okyeame Kwame explained that many people, especially the elderly, think that hip-life is an inferior art form and do not pay attention to rap music at all because it wasn’t started by the academia. To him, such people regard hip-life as ghetto or ‘drop out music’.
“My main motive here is to take the ghetto music and give it to the discerning. I decided to call the album ‘My Poetry’ so that people would perceive rap in the same light as they see poems as a useful forum for advice and entertainment.”
He said he is already making some progress on that front and revealed that KNUST selected his rap verse on the Akyeame song, Mesan Aba as a poem for the second-year literature class.
He said the latest album, produced by One Mic Entertainment, was done with Ghana in mind, but sebsequent ones would target other English-speaking African countries in the sub-region, with the rhythms crafted to appeal to Francophone countries as well.
Okyeame Kwame was born in 1976. He attended St. Joseph’s Experimental and Kumasi Anglican Secondary School (KASS) and is currently a level 200 student in Sociology and Akan at KNUST.
He explained he is in school again because he thinks knowledge is power. “Let’s find knowledge. I want to be an ambassador for people to go to school. People should not be scared but should go to school no matter how old they are. I stayed at home for 11 years after my sixth form education”.
He said he is studying Akan and Sociology because he feels he can’t help the poor if he is not one of them.
Okyeame Kwame has been a rapper since 1990 with Okyeame Quophi with whom he formed the Akyeame group.
According to him, they were performing rap competitions, entertainment shows at schools at a time that American music was very common in Ghana and everyone had to catch up with the hip hop fever.
Commenting on the music industry, Kwame said a lot of hip-life music is not reliable, affordable and available.
He indicated that the music is not reliable because it is not worthwhile buying a CD with just one nice song on it. It is not affordable because the production cost of a CD is less than one Ghana cedi but they are being sold at GH¢6. He says they are not available because the conventional distribution outlets in the country are very few.
“We should cut down on the greed and sell the CDs at GH¢2. We must distribute music like we distribute soap. We should take the music everywhere.”
For a word on his contribution to music Kwame proudly said: “People should acknowledge me for what I’m doing because when I stop, we’ll lose a soldier. Hip-life artistes should learn and read more about society.”