2019 was the year several young rappers put their feet at the door, craned into room while prepping themselves for a full entrance. The list is tall but the ones that roll off the top of my head include Yung Pabi, WXG, Bryan The Mensah, Yung Bazz, Kwame Yesu, Tripp Nie, Chief Kellz and more. All these rappers are looking forward to owning 2020. Kojo Trip belongs to this list of artistes who announced themselves in 2019 with his 15 track album “Lumber Jack”.
For those who scan the ‘underground’ music scene for new songs and to find refreshing artistes, Kojo Trip’s name won’t be a strange one. The rapper was one of the acts featured by Jayso on the fourth installment of his 0106 mixtape, released last year. Prior to that, Kojo Trip had caught some buzz with the release of “Life’s A Trip”.
“Lumber Jack” is not linear in its sonic landscape. It blends trap variants with afropop and a waft of Carribean sound. Kojo Trip either raps or sings on the tape, switching between English and Twi. “No New Friends” featuring Elsie Raad (Elsie is one of my 2019 revelations) speak to the good old “keep your circle close’ mantra. Over a laid back, broody trap beat, Trip sings while Elsie burrows the beat with her raps. ‘No New Friends” is a strong album opener. With mental health becoming a topical issue in recent times- and artistes finding the freedom to open up, Kojo Trip paints a picture of how ‘young kings coming steadily are losing their minds’, thus relying on drugs as a clutch to fight the pressures of life on “Depression”.
The hip hop/trap sound on the two previous tracks pave way for this Afropop record with a contagious horn section on “Nipa”, a song with a “no man can stop me from my success” missive. Kojo, along with Cousin Mauve rap and sing in both Fante and English, perhaps to better convey the message. A tale of love going awry is spoken about on “For You”. Why Cousin Mauve adopted the “Burna Boy croon” on the song is befuddling.
On “Money” (Sika Motive), Kojo Trip, with a UK rapper’s cadence lays out the good life money affords, thus his desire to have loads of it. Although a song with a catchy feel, the hook and production let the song down. A hard drum kick and snare plus strong vocals instead of the distant, airy tone heard on the song would have offered it a lot more. The album closes with “Like I Said”, a catchy mellow hip hop track dominated by guitar strings that would have Post Malone nodding. Kojo shows off his pocket of flows on the track, reminding the listener: “I did it like I said if you gotta problem lemme know”. His tone bears no smell of arrogance, just mere fact.
“Lumber Jack” showcases two good qualities of Kojo Trip: one, his knack for melody and second, his ability to switch from Fante to English without a pause. These two were the poles on which the tape is hoisted. However, the decision to throw in 15 tracks on the project was not a good one. Perhaps, he was, cleaning up his vault ahead of 2020. A cohesive eight or ten-track tape would have made a better impression. Also, the production was lagging on certain songs like “Bandit”, “Money” and “Wave” [the latter I believe could have been one for the streets] sounded like demo recordings.
If “Lumber Jack” was to gauge people’s reaction and thus channel them into his art, then we may have pointed out a few in this article. If his expectation was to get applauded – and hailed for a good work done, I shudder to say, he will be misled considering there were considerable number of good projects released by some of his compatriots last year. Just like life, you can’t ace it at first attempt. Growth and perfection takes time and effort. The two – time and effort- could be good chinks in Kojo Trips armour going forward.