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Talking Verses: Jayso On Bryan The Mensah’s ”Pop Mandem”

Rapper. Producer. Singer. A&R. Songwriter. Father. Husband. Influencer.

All these caps fits on the head of Jayso. Credited as one of the pioneers of GH rap (hip hop), Jayso has, over a decade- and- half, helped shape the talents of a string of young rappers whose skills and talents are influencing the music industry today. Jayso is the fountain that continues to nourish the talents of both established and upcoming artists.

Jayso founded the hip- hop group Skillions which included artists like E.L, J-Town, Ball J, Jinx Therapy, Sandyswiz, Midnight, KP. Some of these artists have gone on to become mentors to some new young artists. A second wave of Skillions featuring Lil Shaker, Killmatic, Rumor (now Nana Benyin), Joey B, Noble, Sandra, BraKevin Beatz, Gemini, Grafik, Padlock- and later, Paapa was formed and mentored by Jayso after the original group disbanded. The Skillions New Generation amassed a following, especially among high school and university students thanks to their versatility, talents, uniqueness and youthfulness between 2006 to 2010/11.

It took a decade for Jayso to release his full length debut album “Making Tasha Proud” in 2015. The hesitation to release an album was due to Jayso’s decision to spend time being a producer for artists like Sarkodie, M.anifest, Adina (whom he oversaw her growth as an artist) and of course, the Skillions New Generation collective. Jayso produced 70% of Sarkodie’s ‘Makye’ and executive produced ‘’Highest’’ album for Sarkodie.

The success of “Making Tasha Proud” (MTP) was like a child discovering a new trick for Jayso. Of course, Jayso had nothing to prove to his fans and music enthusiasts who have followed his career. But, for the rapper that he is, it was a moment for him to present his fans a complete body of work and remind the young music fans how ‘nice’ he is on the mic.

Jayso has consistently released an EP each year since 2016. The “0106 series’’ started as a birthday gift to his fans. The EPs were also an avenue to shine light on some young talents affiliated with Skillions label. Four years down the line, what began as an EP has transformed into an LP.

The recently released “0106 Vol. 4” was approached differently. Jayso expanded the list of artists to include some upcoming talents he admires. The whole production process was recorded and shared online. This way, fans were made to feel a part of the recording sessions and moreover, appreciate the creative processes of making a record. The sessions were creative boot camps for both the artists and producers invited. (Remember that the “0106” tapes are recorded, mixed and released with 24 hours. The ‘’0106 Vol. 4” however took two weeks to put together).

One unfathomable fact about Jayso is the content of his raps: his Christian values and status as a father led to the the censoring of his lyrics – avoiding foul or cussed words. But, it is Jayso’s message about life, career and mentality that has become very apparent over the years.

This self-belief has been addressed on records across his verses. These same sentiments were laid bare on tracks like ‘Stay Woke, ‘Barfest’ and more. Whether on full-length tracks or featured verses, the elder statesman offers insightful nuggets to these young rappers.

On Bryan The Mensah’s “Pop Mandem” off his sophomore tape ”Friends With The Sun’‘, Jayso touched on these themes and how staying true to his style has accounted for his longevity and wins. His opening lines on the Epidemix produced track came right after Bryan The Mensah had delivered an excellent verse; mining the theme of moving at your own pace, sticking to your mission: “Don’t believe the hype, dem go try to kill your career and your fame too’.  Here, Bryan cautioned against mistaken ‘the hype’ to mean ‘I’ve arrived’’.

Bryan The Mensah featured Jayso On “Pop Mandem”

‘’For ten years I dey tell you say I no dey hear/Said it audibly enough I no dey hear/ Daddy told me ‘bout these many critics so I know they’re hear/ My mind is sailing globally I no dey here’’. Not only are these opening lines bold confirmation of his obstinacy, it also drove home the mindset of Jayso, who is very aware of the criticism that his posturing provokes. In an era where rap purists are applauded for their skills rather than reflecting in music sales or mainstream success, Jayso has been one of the odds in this respect.

With technology simplifying the art of making music coupled with the desire of many for mainstream validation resulting in some artists eschewing pure craft for what is hot, Jayso, being the music purist he is seem enthused. By rapping these lines: “Lately rappers acting foley here/ Telling tolli here/ Dropping all these radio singles but they’re lasting for a year’’, Jayso exposes the wrong within the music industry- real talent and dedication to the craft being sacrificed for radio hits.

Toward the end of his verse, Jayso turned his spite on his critics, delivering a fiery yet non- malicious verse to reiterate his unbending stance as an artist in two folds: first, he was not going to take any advice from ‘cupid basic writers’; and second, he would not shy from writing like he’s going into for a rap battle – every line would be of pristine quality.

‘’What’s up with all these keep it basic writers/ Talking ‘bout your verses no dey mean I thing to trotro drivers/ That be cool but who said I am writing raps for all you hypers/ I am hyperactive lyrically/ I write like it’s for cyphers/Hello?!”

The end.

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