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Review: Barima Pages – The Warm Up EP

Criticism. Mockery. Taunts. Outright hate. These are tools people employ to demean or pressure others into quitting or derail their ambitions. You are mostly bound to lose yourself, your identity should you fall for these antics. You either capitulate or hide in the darkest part of the room as a form of self-protection. However, staying steadfast, shifting through the criticisms and picking the constructive ones could propel you beyond your current spot. That is partly the story of Barima Pages.

The career path of Barima Pages has been an undulating one: he was, at a point one of the known voices of what was described as ”GH Rap” (a descriptor for Ghanaian rappers who rapped strictly in English). However, he became a victim of online mockery for what some point to as his subpar deliveries. Between 2016/17, the online troll had become so intense that, Pages felt the need to exit Twitter to save himself and his mental health.
Like any aspiring rapper, Barima Pages’ inspiration to hop on the rap bandwagon came via Drake. “So Far Gone”, the 2009 debut EP release of the Canadian youngster inspired him to take this craft seriously. Prior to that, Barima Pages’ appreciation of music had been shaped by his dad, a chorister. Thus, his home was serenaded by Nat King Cole’s “Walking My Baby Back Home”, “Mona Lisa” and “Unforgettable” along with Pentecostal gospel songs from ace gospel artist, Elder Mireku.

Barima Pages (real name Nana Kweku Takyi Armah) recorded his first song, “Looking Through The Window” in 2009. He since has four mixtapes to his credit – “Me, Myself & I” (in 2011); “Keeping It Real” (in 2013), “Songs For Women” (2013) and finally ”For The Hommies”(2014). Songs off these mixtapes earned him visibility and leverage; a currency Barima Pages finessed to good use. However, the criticism and the scatting mockery thrown at him –either as a jocund or villainous chides- accounted for the long break in his career.

A couple of weeks ago, he returned to the rap scene, releasing “The Warm Up’’, a six track EP (technically speaking four track if you take out the skits). Rapping over Jay Z’s ‘Public Service Announcement’ beat, Barima Pages delivers a mix of humblebrag (‘’read these lines/ And realize I’m real/ No lies/ Did my time’’) and food for thought missives: (first they doubt you, then they accept you/ that’s just the game nigga/ don’t let that hurt you’). With respect to the hard hitting beat that PSA is, I expected a certain intensity in his delivery to match the vigour of the beat.

Again, the long bridge between the verses did snuff out any excitement the verses might have kicked prior. The title track of the EP- ” The Warm Up” is a portrait of beats weaved neatly together. The song begins with Pages rapping over Drake’s ‘0-100/The Catch Up” beat where he talks about his ambition to make it. The second part of the song carries a woozy feel with James Blake’s harmonies has Barima taking aim at his critics and doubters labelling them ‘a bunch of ingrates’ and ‘disrespectful motherfuckers’. ‘’Teenage Crush’’ is a love tale about how he went from a potential lover to being friend zoned. The EP closes with ‘’Champion’’, an afropop styled song featuring Ko-Jo Cue. The song advice against quitting and hoping for a better day.
For an EP that is set to announce a return to the hip hop fold, one would have expected Barima Pages to present a body of work that would not only appeal to his fans but also pique the interest of non-fans. That is, I was expecting a more fiery effort. Yes, he did indicate this EP is a lead to his mixtape but a good leg in the door would have inured to his advantage.
Also placing two skits on a six song tape could have been avoided. Barima Pages could have excellently laced the co-sign and praise-worthy messages from rapper Gemini and Big G like he did on ‘’The Warm Up’’ where DJ YoGA’s props was tucked towards the end of the song.

Hearing him throw shots at critics and troll merchants and discussing his ‘legacy’ as far as hip hop is concern shows a guy who is ready to take a leap to the next stage of his career. ‘’The Warm Up EP’’ is both a cathartic exercise and a signal to what’s next for Barima Pages.

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