When you mention Akyeame, M’asan Aba is the song that readily jumps at you. The song was their breakthrough tune and in a major way, helped define what the genre called hiplife was to become. At its inception, there was a degree of uncertainty around what hiplife was among the older generation when the genre was formally introduced to Ghanaians by Reggie Rockstone in 1995. Four years after, there were skepticism and unacceptability from many Ghanaians, including radio stations.
But, the wave had caught on and rappers, mostly in or out of Senior Secondary Schools (now Senior High School), who were hip hop lovers weren’t going to be dissuaded by the expression of disdain from these old heads. Akyeame were arguably the group who helped bring hiplife into the mainstream. The Zapp Mallet produced M’asan Aba, the group’s first single, has after almost 20 years remained a cult classic. (There’s a very interesting story behind the making of this record).
Akyeame’s debut album, “Nkonsokonso” (the Akan name for Shackles) had many bops. The album (cassette) featured 11 songs – 9 tracks and 2 instrumentals. Released under the Spider’s Web Records in 1999, the album had production work by legendary producer Zapp Mallet and Ashanti International’s own Nana King.
Despite boasting songs like ‘M’asan Aba’, ‘Effie Wura’, ‘Charlie Why?’, ‘Asa A Aba So’, ‘Ɔbanyasafɔ’, ‘Damirifa Due’, ‘Paradise’, ‘Raplawz’, ‘Bra Ma Yen Tsena’ was the third single released off the album.
‘’Bra Ma Yen Tsena’’ (Come Let’s Settle Down) was the second song on the Side A of the cassette. And the third single after ‘M’asan Aba’ and ‘’Asa Aba So’’. Produced entirely by Zapp Mallett, the song sampled the instrumentals of the classic funk song Fresh from the group Kool & The Gang. What Zapp did with the beat was to speed up the BPM, replaced the guitar strings with one from the Yaa Amponsah guitar and added DJ scratches, handing it this hip hop feel.
The song explored the issue of love with the two rappers, Okyeame Quame and Okyeame Quophi detailing the infidelity of their respective spouses whom they mistakenly thought possessed beautiful characters akin to her physical beauties. They ended up realizing beauty is rather skin deep.
Okyeame Quophi hopped on the beat first, serving a verse that painted a picture of a failing relationship. The rap verse came after a chorus with a brow raising yet truthful observation: ‘’even if you have a ring on (married), come and settle with me ‘cos in this town, everyone is somebody’s lover’’.
Okyeame Quophi went ahead to share the foundation of this relationship, rapping in Twi: ‘’y3 si mo aky3, na ’83 k)m no mpo mba y3’’ (which to wit: ‘we’ve been together prior to the hunger years of 1983). Despite his sacrifices, hard work, love and provision of her needs, she left him for another guy when she became successful, defeating her promise of sticking with for better or for worse. What followed were a torrent of retaliatory thoughts, the pains and regrets.
Okyeame Quame on the second verse was literally dusting himself off the pain and moving on with his life. But that wasn’t after he laid out her sins including the pressure she’s putting him through- how he keeps growing lean despite eating well.
The third verse had them itemizing how they’ve turned their misfortune into riches and success, and how they are now ready to throw money on girls and cater to all their need-buying them Grand Cherokee vehicles, Versace clothes.
The song had a couple of interesting references. The few that comes across are found on the pre-hook where they referenced the name of Monica Lewinsky as one of the women who they could date. This song came at a time when details of the Bill Clinton- Monica Lewinsky affair was a hot topic around the world.
Another reference had to be the ‘A La La Long’ line used by Okyeame Quame towards the end of the 2nd verse. That was taken from Jamaican reggae fusion group Inner Circle’s 1993 smash hit ‘Sweat’ (A La La Long). Okyeame Quophi also went back in time to reference a very recognized comment popularized by late actor/comedian Super OD. This line is heard on his opening verse where, in highlighting the ordeal his ex had put in through blurted: ‘s3 wo y3 me boni a m’atu wo wig’- to wit: I’d take off your wig if you hurt or wrong me. (Wigs are important accessory for women as a beauty enhancer so if taken off in public, it’s considered a sign of disgrace).
The album and its lead single, ‘’M’asan Aba’’ went ahead to win the Hiplife Song of the Year accolade at the 1999 Ghana Music Awards.
Akyeame went on to release three additional albums-‘’Nyansapo’’ (Spider’s Web), ‘’Ntoaso’’ (Continuity) and ‘’Apam Foforo’’(New Deal/Testament)- before breaking up as a group in 2004. Whereas Okyeame Quame (now Kwame) has evolved into one of the most prominent and successful rappers around with over two decades of experience, Quophi ventured into music production, video directing and multi-media activities in addition to his stint as a radio person (he was a radio guy before he took the mic as a rapper).
Akyeame’s legacy still reigns supreme. Their lyrical dexterity, showmanship and ability to compose not only bangers but songs with good messages made them one of the best musical groups to have done this music thing. They shall remain the pride of Kumasi and Ghana forever.