If you pause to think about what is happening now with music, especially the quality of lyrics being spewed lately, compared to what was the case some two decades ago, one wonders what has changed.
Back then, we had songs being censored and taken off radio for lyrics considered ‘distasteful’. Famous song that received such ‘blackout’ was ‘Moses’ by highlife legend A.B Crentsil. His crime was creating a song with very suggestive lyrics. ‘Moses’, is still banned on radio since it’s release some three decades ago. (released in 1983).
One song which was banned ‘temporarily’ on radio was ‘Kete Pa’ by highlife artiste Ekow Shai-Low. Released in the early 2000s, Kete Pa (which means excellent bed) was created on R&B influence – as with many other songs of that era. ‘Kete Pa’ was also euphemism for sex.
In the song, Ekow Shi-Lo was sweet talking a lady into loving him; expressing what he is willing to offer her if she becomes his girl, including good sex. He featured the legendary rap duo Buk Bak, who were signed to Abib Records also around that time. Buk Bak consisting of Ronnie (RIP) and Bright added ragga and rap verses to make the song hip and appealing to a younger audience.
The temporary ban suffered by Kete Pa, released under Abib Records wasn’t much about the lyrics of the entire song. It was a single line in the song that warranted the ban. The line which translates from Twi as ‘blessed are the ones whose stick stays hard or strong all night’ was considered, among conservative Ghanaian music enthusiastic, as crude, offensive and morally corrupting. For it to be played, Ekow Shi-Lo had to edit that part out. He and Abib Records obliged.
The video carried a very simple storyline which a non-Twi speaker could easily grasp. Shot by JoeJoe Quagraine and Kwame Ofori with King Luu (as Art Director), Ekow Shi-Lo is seen in a furniture shop hoping to purchase a bed (as the title reflect). A wink was all Ekow flashed at a girl to win her over from her guy who was trying to reconcile with her.
The video had some dope moments; some which would definitely get you screaming woohoo!! The flying bed scene at the end was so epic that they had it show it twice. Also, there was a ‘singing’ Ekow Shi-Lo billboard (were they aware they were advertising for Castle Milk Stout?) was brilliant (check from the 1:05 mins).
The fashion was a blend between African prints and early 2000 hip hop gears of NFL jerseys and baggy jeans (as worn by Buk Bak). One can’t also miss the comic moments in the video and the famous Ako Adjei Interchange with Shi-Lo and Buk Bak having a good time.
Comparing what befell ‘Kete Pa’ and some of the sexually cringing lyrics found in today’s music which is played on the radio, you ask what has changed? Is censorship not a big deal again? Have we mainstreamed lewd lyrics? Or we don’t care anymore?