On their debut release, WEIRDxGENIUS Vol. 1, WXG confirmed their status as the new doyens of hip hop in Ghana
It is an irrefutable fact that Hip-Hop; the biggest musical genre of this era, which has for the best part of two decades been the crux of our fashion and language is yet to turn into a commercially successful genre in Ghana, compared to other genres. However, there are some whose pursuit of Hip-Hop is fueled by their passion, and a burning hope that their efforts would soon be rewarded.
For many young rappers, the attractiveness and influence of hip-hop are steeped in the works of American rap stars like 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, J. Cole among others. In their success lies the alluring gloss that inspires some of our rappers to continue their pursuit. But rap, as a medium of self-expression was the pleasing element.
Weird is Genius (stylized as WeirdxGenius), is a rap collective hoisting the hip-hop flag in Ghana. Made up of; Lykay, Elsie Raad, Tony Dickson, Kweku Mireku, Okukuseku and Y.N.A, WXG, through their recently released tape have exhibited how much they care about hip hop; that, their passion and love for rap fuels their ambitions.
On “WEIRDxGENIUS Vol. 1”, the Collective delivered a 10-track album layered with themes of success, love and exuberant lifestyle (or the hope for an exuberant lifestyle). The album is their major introduction to the world. A quality of the album is its undiminished intensity from the first track to track number 10. The intensity in their rhymes, delivery and the overall sonic palette also reflect the attitude of the collective.
The tape opens with the fiery, “ZERO FUCKS (INTRO)”, which finds Tony Dickson spazzing a Ga flow reminiscent of Buk Bak (definitely late 90’s Buk Bak). He issues a blatant warning to the competition, advising them to fall back. Lykay jumps in to remind us why they are no more tap-dancing to anyone’s rhythms but their own. Switching between Ga, pidgin English and Twi. Lykay lays out the various artists that inspired him to rap- including the Haatsville/ Skillions crew. The narrative progresses on “RULES”, where they re-echo their “we’re doing it by our rules” stance.
Even though hip-hop is the cloth from which they are cut, the collective forayed into the waters of afropop, where love became the knotting point for the outpouring of regrets and grief. “M’ADWEN”, produced by the incomparable MikeMillzOn’Em is a tale of love. Lykay and Elsie Raad took turns to present their versions of truth: articulating the deception, lies and cheating ways of their exes. Elsie Raad, whom I was hearing for the first time, pulled a Nicki Minaj-Monster-esque performance on the track. Lykay was lucky to have gone first on the TH4Kwages sampled record. Listening to the song, I kept wondering why the TH4Kwages sample sounded very distant.
On “I DON’T WANT YOU”, which features Lykay and Tony Dickson, the duo collectively say no to the ex who wants a comeback after a breakup. The song is more of a sequel to “M’adwen”. The ambition to be rich or successful is emphasized on “Sika” (feat. Kweku Mireku, Elsie Raad, Questo). “This flex is for the gods/ No fears at all/We go reign no be mouth”, the lumbering voice of Lykay intoned these rhymes over the trap heavy anthem “Big Niggas” (feat TFK and Zotto).
On certain projects, there’s a standout cut which leaves you questioning the artistry and the process behind the creation of the song. “OLE” starts with menacing strings and claps, we’re quickly introduced to Elsie Raad, whom at this point has made it clear she’s here to slit throats. Tied with a rather unorthodox hook delivered by Tony Dickson; Questo lands the home-run with his trademark laid-back flow.
One of the main highlights of the tape would be the effortless chemistry between Lykay and Tony Dickson. From the opener to “I DON’T WANT YOU” you can tell these two gel seamlessly. They take things up a notch on “WHO’S THAT”, which finds the duo trading quick barbs over a heavy trap production.
WEIRDxGENIUS Vol. 1 is the first album from the Collective – albeit the likes of Lykay and Questo are recognizable voices on the rap scene courtesy their individual releases or features. The album also introduced some ‘new’ voices like Elsie Raad, Tony Dickson to the world. Having Elsie Raad; the only female rapper in the Collective, on four songs which includes a solo performance on “Walls”, was not an act of tokenism or a benevolent gesture. It’s rather an attestation to her brilliance on the microphone, a rightfully earned position.
By keeping a fine balance between hip-hop and afropop, rap and melody, WXG produced an album that eschewed excessiveness. Its leanness – tracks and song length means one can put it on shuffle for hours after all, we are in the streaming era.