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Dissecting the story told by Akan on Onipa Akoma – Part 1 &2

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This is a three (3) part article which dissects rapper, Akan’s full debut album, ‘Onipa Akoma’, with emphasis on the story narrated on the album. We are publishing the first two parts of the story. The third part would be published in the coming days.


It’s been over two weeks since Akan released his epochal album, ‘’Onipa Akoma’’. Composed of 15 tracks-with some of the songs being a merger of two songs- Akan not only proved why he is one of the last breeds of incredible rappers who still believes lyricism and coherent, thought-provoking, well-themed body of work is important in the face of an industry obfuscated by singles and ‘noise’.

Two weeks is enough to digest a dense album like ‘’Onipa Akoma’’. As indicated in a review of the album published days ago (on this blog), it may take weeks, months and even years to dissect this ‘expensive piece of art’ as @livewire360 described it. At least, if all the themes, both the broadly and lightly stroked ones aren’t figured out, the overall story being told must be grasped-at least by those who understand the elective Twi Akan poured on this album.

‘’Onipa Akoma’’, which translate as ‘Man’s Heart’ is an expression of desires and wishes based on the many bucket-list of the heart and mind. Akan, on the album, meanders his way between what his heart wants and the needs of his soul (thoughts), a struggle he articulately shares on his full debut album. Listening to the album for a week, I finally understood the narrative of the album. What Akan did on this album is similar to Paulo Cuelho’s ‘The Alchemist’, where the protagonist kept chasing the purpose in his life. Akan, in a similar vein is searching for what truly matters to him.

In this three (3) part article, I’ll be summarizing the story on the album to give fans who may have listened to the album and yet, are unable to grasp what he is talking about. Be informed that the story gathered from the album is about a man (Akan) in search of what’s of greater importance in life. Indulge me please. The dissection would be under three parts. Part 1 is titled The Search; Part 2 is The Reality and the final Part 3 is titled The Clarity.

The album opener is ‘Odaamanii Abissadee’ which translate as this: ‘Odaamanii’ refers to a young man; and ‘Abisaadee’ means request. Like the title, the content on the song has Akan revealing everything that he so desires in this life, both the pretty and ugly-from wealth, marriage, love, philanthropy, legacy, debauchery,  reckless sex (including denying paternity of kids he’d birth), loss and death. Like Epphialtes, the hunchback in 300 when Xerxes promised him the rewards for his loyalty, Akan wants it all. What he further espouses on this track is what every young person dreams about in life. Interestingly, the battle between the heart and conscience (mind) is played here. Whiles Akan is enumerating his needs, his conscience keeps reminding him: ‘Kwabena be patient. Note that, we have the right to do everything; but, not everything is right to do’; a borrowed biblical advice parents often slap you with when they think you’re living a reckless life.

On the second track, ‘Me Sika Aduro’, he realizes the importance of money in life. Akan praying for a ‘mansion full of money’ isn’t out of place, as the Twi proverb aptly captures: all that we see as beautiful is funded by money’. That is, life is more pleasurable if you are rich. Akan highlights what he would do with the money that comes in hand- to engage in profligate behavior, use his resources to better his life and that of others. But, as the saying goes, ‘wishes aren’t horses’, the hopes of Akan is at variance with his living conditions. He’s poor.  The hook of the song put things in perspective: ‘when you see me all pensive, I’m thinking about money. When I wake up in the morning till I retire to bed, my mind is filled with getting rich’.

You, human, what does your heart desire?

His lack of money and its related issues is the subject of musing on ‘Akoma No Abuagumu’, the song. Loneliness, love-less relationship is the subject of ‘Akoma No Abuagumu’ (A Broken Heart). Released months ago as the single under the title ‘Manhole’, (a metaphor to connote his emptiness), Akan decries his predicament and begs for anything to come fill up the hollowness in his heart/ life; going to the extent of begging an ex for a brief companionship just to make him whole again. The song opens with a pulsating heartbeat represented by a well-spaced piano sound. Akan is heard on the interlude painting a haunting picture of his predicament. ‘My heart is in my hand/ It’s falling through my hand/Somebody should grab it before it falls/ There’s a gaping hole inside of me/ I’m sitting here waiting/Who’s coming to my aid this evening?/The door to my heart is widely opened/Who’s coming to fill me up’.

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Photo from Akan’s twitter page

Akan, like any man, has certain qualities he’s looking out for in a woman-he requires her to be understandable, tolerant and trustworthy. He’s not getting this kind of woman because ‘love has become expensive lately’. One could feel the pain in his words and the distress in his voice. The image that pops up in my mind is of a man at his wits end; only a presence or voice could save him from gulping down that pint of poison in hand. The frustrating levels of loneliness leads to his willingness and readiness to accept any woman just to fill this vacuum. This is a tale of sorrow and pity. But, after grief comes a sense of clarity. That brightness comes on Matu Meto (The Sojourn).

‘Meto Meto’ is an exodus story, where Akan makes it emphatically clear his desire to go seek greener pastures. A man doesn’t sit at one spot and endure disgrace, they say. Akan is someone with ambition, so he makes up his mind to take that trip to a foreign land to earn a living. He makes his intentions known when he raps: ‘All my life I’ve desired the best. Yet, sitting at one spot is seeing me lose all that I dream about’. He is emphatic not to be dissuaded by anyone-family and friends alike. His mind is made up. Despite his resolve, his mother isn’t enthused about the idea. On the second half of the song, we hear her sounding a word of caution to Akan, pointing out how dangerous such journeys are as well as the predicament that befell an uncle who never returned after following friends who were embarking on one of such life changing trips. But, Akan shoots back, rubbishing his mum’s apprehensions. He sees his mum’s request for him to be patient in life as ineffectual since poverty is eating them up. He’s also tired of her constant prayers that yields no miracles (solving their living conditions). He has no option, he has big dreams of his own and moving is his surest bet.

Read review of Onipa Akoma

‘Aprodoo’, is the second part of ‘Matu Meto’. On this track he sings an interlude, pointing out one of life’s realities: ‘everybody joins in making merry but you are left alone when in trouble’. With that as a basis, Akan proceeds on a journey of self-preservation. He’s going to seek wealth not only for himself but also change the fortune of his family. His good reasons notwithstanding, his family members don’t understand him. ‘Aprodoo’ is where he explains his reasons. He speaks about making it so he could feed his family, cater for those behind him (siblings), and also build a future for his kids so they don’t go through this horrid life he is enduring. From the song, one gathers Akan is the first child of his mother and likely the breadwinner. One also gleans the life of his family: poverty is forcing them into a state of reclusiveness. This ugly situation is the reason why Akan is ready to make a sacrifice for the betterment of his family-both the living and those yet to be born. On the second part of the song, Akan makes it known that, this journey could go both ways. And he is willing to accept blame and the jolts that may come with his failures, likewise the accolades that come with success.

‘Aprodoo’ ends the first part of the story of the album. Clearly, you’d realize up to this point that, Akan is giving us an insight into the desires of his heart. That is, the person speaking isn’t Akan, the individual. Rather, it is his heart telling him what it wants him to do. The first bit of the conflicting duality that consumes this album is exhausted to its full limit.

PART 2: The Reality

The second part of the album begins with Koliko (Abusua Tintin). Koliko refers to a puppet or zombie as Fela Kuti would say (you could hear Akan’s interpolation of Fela’s ‘Zombie’ on the hook). One could assume that, Akan has found success following his trip. The joyous chants of the kids towards the end of ‘Aprodoo’ and the overall narrative on Koliko can’t be discussed in isolation. His new found success leads him to dating a woman who turned him into a zombie- his life being dictated by this woman. He compares his predicament to that of a drowning man-the love being the river. What’s interesting is that, Akan acknowledges the fact that it was his bad judgement (his impatience) that got him entangled in this intoxicated love web. He thus loses all that he has worked for up to the point. Things become clear as the beat switches. Akan gives us the backstory: being successful led him to womanizing. He found himself in a relationship where he was unsure if she loved him or his money. Losing his riches went with the respect he once had among women. This loss leads Akan to another state of life; an alcoholic.

‘Nsa Fofuo’ (Palm wine is a brewed beverage obtained from the palm tree. It’s a famous drink found across the coast of West Africa). On this song, Akan’s tale continues. After losing his wealth, he resorts to spending hours at the palm wine joint in the town with other drunkards. He acknowledges that his lifestyle is not the best, but what other option is available? With no job and money, Akan found pleasure in whiling away his time drinking, cracking jokes and receiving appellations from other townsfolks. We get to hear how he keeps borrowing from the palm wine seller on credit, selling lies to the drunks. Finally, his wobbly legs (due to intoxication) carries him home, where he eats fufu as dinner. If there’s one thing peculiar to drunkards, it is their ability to speak their thoughts without restrain. A drunk Akan acknowledges that, there’s joy in the bottle as well as in-between the legs of a woman. This latter statement foreshadows the theme of the next track..

On ‘Anadwo Y3 D3’ (title translate literally as ‘Sweet Night’), Akan is quick to transport us into night rendezvous where all the ‘party animals’ come alive. He describes vividly the caliber of persons who have converged tonight- mostly the rich guys, the beautiful ladies, young, old. The poor aren’t left out in the activity of the night. A club scene is inferred from the narrative of Akan. His poor status isn’t a hindrance to him making merry. As he right notes in the song, ‘they came out to spend the little (money) on them’. Earlier, before his lyrics poured out, he is heard asking the question: ‘have you wondered why your soul is hungry yet you’re well fed?’ this question connotes the emptiness that Akan is chasing in life- he’s attending to the demands of the flesh and least of his soul. Towards the end of the song a haunting voice emerges (which I presume is his conscience) chiding him for going astray from his real intentions (remember the many reasons he shared on Aproodo?). The voice finally left him with a though-provoking comment: in your haste to be successful, you lost your soul. The voice wails towards the end of the song. The impact of the voice on Akan leads him to another phase in his journey I’d described as the ‘Phase of Clarity’.

Buy/Stream album here

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3 Responses to “Dissecting the story told by Akan on Onipa Akoma – Part 1 &2”

  1. Kofi

    Hi guys! I just became a very big fan of AKAN. Unfortunately my twi is pretty bad. Can some one translate one or two songs for me?
    Kind regards
    Kofi

    Reply

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