There is no such thing as bad publicity. It all boils down to how one flips it to their advantage. There is no industry that prides itself on the exploitation of publicity than the showbiz industry. Whereas some actors within the space deliberately-and creatively- get themselves entangled in controversies (mostly bad since bad news sells) to advance their profile, others pull stunts to ‘sell’ their new creations.
Lord Paper used one of such controversial media to announce himself on the music scene in 2016. The video for his slow ‘bedroom’ jam “Awurama” broke the internet for its highly explicit video. The commentary that the video garnered led to YouTube officially taken it down.
Like the aftermath of all controversies, the name Lord Paper gained attention. Either by design or a fortuitous gain, Lord Paper and his video made more news than the actual song. Before the controversy could die down, the singer released ”North K Guy”, an afropop tune that showcased another side of the singer. “North K Guy” was not Lord Paper’s apology song. It rather reinforced his “bad boy” image.
That, however did not last. He forayed into the vineyard of God, releasing “Fa Me Ye”, a gospel tune as confirmation of his new faith but not his musical direction. Lord Paper’s decision to embrace God was influenced by his mum. Speaking with Hitz FM’s Andy Dotsy, the artist revealed his mum was disappointed in the video for ‘’Awurma”
‘She was like ‘what is going on. I know you want to do music but is this how you want to portray yourself to people…I didn’t bring you up like this”. Although she was impressed by the message in his other songs, she wanted more from him. “Your message is positive but you are not portraying that kind of positivity in you to people so you need to do something about it”, he told Andy Dosty.
Whereas certain controversies fuel the popularity of the protagonist, others take a lot of work to remove the tainted image. Like a leech, the controversy becomes associated with them, blighting their good efforts. Lord Paper, unfortunately, is suffering from the latter. In the same Hitz FM interview, he revealed how his good songs are not being played on the radio because of his “bad guy” image.
Lord Paper did not let these impediment curtail his dream. He has returned to his afropop roots, releasing a string of records. Notable among them are the Medikal assisted “Love No Catch You Before” and the people’s favourite “Dzigbordi”.
An afropop song with ear candy, early 2000s RnB elements, the song possesses a mid-tempo vibe with its content bothering on love and, more importantly a contemplative cry over the obstacle(s) he has to overcome to make Dzigbordi his lover.
The content of the song is an overblown one; yet there is something astoundingly profound about this tune. “Dzigbordi” does not stir up the a -girl-plays-hard-to- get narrative or a poor guy chasing after a girl out of his league. Lord Paper brilliantly breaches the knotty, long-standing topic of families coming against two hearts in love because of their tribal background.
On many levels, this is a brave move by Lord Paper to stir up discussion on a controversial issue that is whispered at family gatherings like some secret tales. Though we often try to whitewash such a distressing stain with our perceived progress leaning, many have experienced such objection either directly or as a secondary victims.
The opening lyrics of the first verse places things in its right context: “My love, I’ve heard your mum doesn’t like me cos I’m an Ashanti”, Lord Paper laments the impeding objection to him loving Dzigbordi over syrupy guitar riff and measured drums and kicks.
The stale relationship between Ashantis and Ewes are centuries old and many tales exist to explain the antecedent of this rancour. One version, as told by my history professor went like this: In the 17th and 18th centuries when the Asante Empire was expanding its realm across the West African terrain, the Asante king sent emissaries to the now modern Volta to solicit their help. The request was for the Volta chiefs to offer the warring Asante soldiers a temporary settlement from where they could launch attacks into neighbouring chiefdoms. A request which the Volta chiefs gladly assented to since the Volta chiefs saw the Asante warriors as a bulwark in terms of security.
After a successful invasion, the Asante king invited the Volta chiefs to Kumasi to express his profound gratitude for the assistance offered. Instead of a feast, these chiefs were arrested and taken prisoners. The Asante garrison in the Volta area thus overrun their host and took the northern part of modern Volta Region. That, according to my history professor was the genesis of the Volta-Asante tiff. (My history professor is himself from Volta Region so this account might not be entirely accurate).
Conversations surrounding some parents objecting to their kids’ relationships with people from tribes they don’t like is not rare. Ghana twitter has kicked up dust on this kind of topic many times. The stories and experiences of many ‘’victims’’ of this pinhole mindset is nauseating. I have had the unfortunate situation of witnessing a breakup between a friend who is an Asante and his Ewe girlfriend because his sisters threw in the ‘’she is Ewe’’ line. Like Lord Paper stated in the song, “3n3 mmr3 yi so y3 de tribe judge nipa (are we still judging people based on their tribe?) /21 century you still get this mindset’; a criticism at the ‘old’ way of thinking.
Dzigbordi’’might just be the song Lord Paper needs to break his ‘bad boy’ reputation and get mentioned among the ‘new’ voices on the afropop scene. His talent is not in doubt, likewise his ability to craft good songs. ‘’Dzigbordi’’ is not an outstanding record. It however carries all the embellishments inherent in modern day pop record: catchy hook, good melody, repetitive lyrics, and excellent production. But, it is the thought-provoking message that might strike a chord with many.