The music industry has never been fair. Often, those who are expected to have a seat at the royal table for some reason end up few rows behind it. Some may even get placed in a very obscure corner of the dinning chamber. But, that’s what happens when humans are left to dictate and validate what is ‘best’. Many talents have resigned to this fate out of unrecognition for what they embody. The pain of seeing your work –which you have invested your sweat and blood to create-not getting appreciated like you have envisioned could be charring and a source of disillusionment.
The factors that account for this could be myriad: the content of the music being classed as ‘heavy’, to absence of a promotional plan for music. Also, the artists themselves don’t do enough to attain that desire visibility.
In a jungle like what the music space is, the ‘survival of the fittest’ rule reigns. No matter how good you are, you need to back it up in more spheres than one. It’s therefore, unsurprising to see artists with zero talent making a mark on the scene while talented acts get a seat on the substitute’s bench. Coming to terms with such realities could be as heart wrenching as it could be depressing. But, that’s the reality of the times we live in.
In 2010, a young rapper earned his fame off singles from his album ‘Permanent Stains’. Enoch Nana Yaw Oduro-Agyei aka Trigmatic got his break on the music scene with his single ‘My Life’; an introspective narrative on life’s numerous roadblocks: how to not get sucked into its fangs and the power of relying on God. The hip-hop sentiments found on ‘My Life’, coupled with the incisive lyrics made it a very popular tune across all age brackets. Trigmatic used his plight as a man, an artist as musing tools. ‘Sometimes I backslide like the MJ dance or maybe fall victim to some devilish plans’, he echoed on the song. He further explored the relationship between success, good life and one’s relationship status. ‘My Life’ earned trigmatic his first Ghana Music Award in 2011, and along with songs such as ‘Me Fri Ghana’, ‘My Jolly’, ‘Light and Darkness’ and ‘Ajeii’, Trig’s visibility soared.
The musical journey of the young rapper who grew up in Flamingo, a suburb of Mamprobi, was evident through his school days, especially at senior high school where he was actively involved in all musical events. After participating and winning ‘’Lyrical Lounge’’ organized by Vibe FM (a youth oriented radio station that has been rebranded as Live FM under new management), Trigmatic ultimately began work with the station, co-hosting ‘Young Vibes’, a youth oriented show in 2007. Two years after, he’d leave Vibe FM to YFM as host of ‘Y Campus’. In his quest to grow his music, Trig would take leave from radio to concentrate on his musical endeavours.
Before his breakthrough single ‘My Life’, Trigmatic was a side-kick of rapper Tinny, then one of the hottest rappers in the country. The relationship inured to the benefit of Trig: his visibility and fan base grew a little. Tinny made sure he gave Trigmatic an opportunity to share whatever stage he played on. One could also assume (that), Tinny, being the big brother handed him some gems about the music industry. The relationship culminated in many collaborations with Tinny with the ‘Ringtone’ remix being one.
Running through the catalogue of Trigmatic, it is clear that most of his hits aren’t the ‘party’ incline jams. The most loved are mostly the thought-provoking, social commentary, people focused songs he makes. The themes of such songs reflect the human condition. Trigmatic becomes the painter who sketches pictures of life and its nuances on a canvas provided by the beats from the producer’s boards.
Take for instance his song ‘Where We Dey Go?’ a song that captures the desire of humans- our quest for material wealth, jealousy, envy, avarice and corruption. Over striking percussion and bass guitar riffs, he criticises the greed of politicians (‘we selling our country/ we selling our goodness, where we dey go?’) and the strain of enviness that exist in the music industry. The song title itself carries a double meaning: which direction are we going as a country or people? Is it to a better future or not? The question also carries a religious tone-will the soul go to heaven or hell after committing the 7 deadly sins. Trigmatic, who describes himself as ‘the definition of versatility’ sounds like Nigeria’s Labaja or Brymo in terms of his vocal delivery. The vocals grate, sooth and sound forcefully at the same time.
The messages in his songs are mostly the truth about human beings. Trigmatic is the apostle who identifies the ills of society and mankind and preaches about it so that the guilty would repent from their ways. He also offers, through moral suasion, advice to people to live a good life. These topics are prominent in songs like ‘Right Way’, a hip hop stewed song that featured singer Kesse. On the song, Trig prays to God ‘to show him the right way’ in his quest for success since ‘he’s tired of this game’. Trig muses over the frustrations he’s reeling under and the factors accounting for his predicament: ‘because I spit real/ I no dey get deals/ I gotta cook something fast, I need a fat meal’. The temptation to adopt other means rather the right ones is something he’s contemplating about. Even though the lyrics reflect his realities, it’s also the story of many young artists with their nose to the grindstone.
God, troubles of the world and the complexities of life are emphasised on ‘Gye Nyame’ (Unless God), an acoustic styled, sombre toned track produced by Genius Selection. On the song, Trigmatic spoke about on issues that bedevils today’s society: deception, adultery, sexual exploitation, financial burdens, betrayal by friends. The brooding shifts from the deeds of people to the country, wondering whether we’d see any progress. He calls on God to intervene since the actions of the citizens would plunge rather than salvage the country’s future. ‘Wo Sika Ntsi’ (Because of Your Riches) continues in the same realm of exploring the power of wealth and its influence on behaviours. In a society like ours, the invincibility of the rich and mighty are very common to notice. The rich often get a pass to do anything without repercussion. It is uncommon to see or read about how the rich abuse their status. As the hook rightly quizzes: You are abusing me because of your money. ‘Wo Sika Ntsi’ rides on another biblical reference of ‘all is vanity’ and how no circumstance is permanent. ‘I say this world is not your own, cos if you die your body no dey go back home. No matter how big you are, God is the overall power’. The song examines why people want to be rich, its corruptibility and the need to use ones resources to help society and not exploit others.
Even on an upbeat, highlife tune like ‘Motromodwo’ with the talented A.I, Trig continues to drum home the shady attitudes of human. He speaks on hypocritical and envious tendencies of people who ‘wipe their mouth on the floor after eating’, as the Akan proverb goes. They advice us to be weary of such people and avoid them. ‘see me coming, you set a big trap for road’, Trig sings. ‘Motromodwo’ chides people who play double standards.
One quality Trigmatic possess aside his soothing voice is his religiosity and his polyglot nature. His Christian faith and believe in God shines across many of his songs, especially the contemplative pieces. This is clearly demonstrated on ‘Right Way’ and ‘Gye Nyame ‘which opened and closed with biblical references. His polyglot tendencies is in full bloom on a song like ‘Wo Sika Ntsi’, where Trigmatic sings/raps in Hausa, Twi, Ga and English.
The constant overlooking of a talent like Trigmatic and his missives is similar to what others like Wanlov and Mensa (as individuals and as the Fokn Bois as a group) and C-Real suffer. These artists are our modern day social observers and commentators who use their music to draw attention to the issues of inequality-both economical and human rights wise; the exploitative political and religious systems that is inherent in the society. The have used their music to inspire and challenge our thinking, one song at a time. However, there exist a section who, instead of supporting their actions, rather attack them.
In a music space where the ‘best’ songs are all go-happy tunes-mostly about money and women- Trigmatic and his ilk are playing a very important role by placing the mirror in front to reflect our realities once we are done partying. His songs may not be in our ears since it doesn’t fit the commercial driven radio business, but when all is said and done, we won’t wring our fingers in regret that we didn’t listen more to Trigmatic and his cohorts. I hope it won’t be too late then.