At a point in the career of an artist, he/she is likely to make a record that deeply reveal who he/she is. Such song(s) bring out the humanity of the artist, reveal their perspectives on life, and what keeps them awake at night. These songs reflect, clearly the soul of the artists. It’s not the banging, made-for-the-club songs or details of their fantasies or the shenanigans that their age permit them to indulge in. I’m talking about songs that shocks, send chills over your spine or get you reflecting on your own life choices and deeds.
Between the years 2002 to 2006, the rapper, Tinny moved from obscurity to prominence. His ”Makola Kwake” single, released at the turn of the millennium elevated Tinny to the centre of attention. The rise of Tinny was instant: one incredible single crafted by Hammer (of Da Last Two), slender and good looking, talented and speaks the purest form of the Ga dialect.
By the year 2003/4, Tinny was knocking on the “best rapper alive” door. His consistency, ability to change the mood of a song, his delivery of the Ga dialect over beats and his overall demeanor was spotlessly infectious. Tinny came across as the type of rapper who could drop a verse in his sleep. His verses felt natural, unforced. If we had a publication dedicated to hiplife (rap) in Ghana during the period, like The Source or XXL, the cove page would have been his. Tinny was gliding high, one song or feature at a time.
Nii Addo Quaynor, aka Tinny is the last of six children, a fact he continuously referenced in his songs: ‘Ricky, Naa Badu Nakutso Bi”. Tinny was born to be a rapper or entertainer and this showed from an early age. Performing at parties and other events at age eight, he became a fixture on Fun World, a weekly kids events hosted by National Theatre around 1994. Tinny’s musical dream inched closer to reality after his father – who had been very instrumental in his career from an early age – booked a session with music producer Hammer (Last 2) while Tinny was still in Senior High School.
Impressed by his rapping abilities, Hammer introduced Tinny to music video director and producer, Abraham Ohene-Djan (OM Studios, now Ohene Media) who decided to produce him. The outcome: Makola Kwakwe, released in 2003 to critical acclaim. That was the turning point in his career.
“Makola Kwakwe”, a nine track album is, arguably a classic in Tinny’s musical pantheon. The album boasted five top radio charting songs – ‘Makola Kwake’, ‘Ofee Dull’, ‘Angelina’, ‘Obi Do Ba’ and the very hip-hop cut ‘Wani Kyiki’. Though he was building his profile off the back of these songs, Tinny’s memorable performance on Obrafour’s ground –breaking remix of “Oye Ohene” was the official validation he needed- his “now you’re finally here” moment. His delivery, confidence and fashion style (especially in the video) conferred on him the ‘sexy man’ tag.
The radio bangers aside, it was “Dzormo”, the deep cut on the album that showed Tinny’s ability to burrow deep into his life, share his perspectives about the world and offer praise to God for his mercies, blessings and love.
The video for “Dzormo” was different from the big budget, flashes, heavy-on-graphics videos he shot for “Angelina”, ” Obi Do Ba”. The Abraham Ohene- Djan (OM Studios) directed video was entirely shot in black and white. Wearing a white sleeveless net singlet and a flat cap with a white durag tucked beneath it, Tinny spoke, rather than rap his words. His first words: ‘oh ts) f33 lo’ was soul striking, the well-crafted, drum heavy, mid-tempo, head bopping beats from Hammer coming after those words perked your ears.
Described as hip-hop gospel- it’s indeed a gospel song- Tinny preached about a lot of subject across the hook-less song. The transition from one verse to another was characterized by Tinny’s musings, singing and ad-libs. The first verse had Tinny exulting God as the creator of the world, offering him life, being the father of the poor. The second and last verses had him reflecting on the numerous afflictions of the world and the predicaments many face before expressing his own gratitude for how far God had brought him and the power of leaning on him
Considering the importance of the message in the song, Abraham Ohene-Djan decided to use sub-titles in the video to reach a wider audience, especially the non-Ga speaking fans. The simplicity of the video- a calm looking Tinny staring into the camera rapping; the angles of shots and pixelated frames all came together excellently.
It’s a fact that videos for songs with very thought-provoking messages must not be obstructed by other visually competing elements. The artist and their message should take centre stage always. And that, Ohene-Djan did for Tinny to great effect on ”Dzormo”.
Watch the video below