2001. Metro TV. Advertising Cycle. Skyy Power FM. Radio Valco.
These are the memory dots I have about the lead single from the three-man rap group Keteke. “Chio Chio” was the group’s magnum opus. Keteke became an overnight celebrity off the back of this record. Unlike some who fade into black after scoring a big hit single, the group would go on to release a full length 11 track album, consisting of 9 songs, an Intro and Outro. Their second major single was “Alele’’, a song that partly criticized and admonished against promiscuity of young women.
The group’s name, “Keteke” translate as train or coach in Twi. The nam choice makes sense if you consider the origin of the group. The three members of Keteke– Train Driver, Station Master and Engineer- were from mining towns in the Western Region thus that name reference. The three rappers were also students of the Takoradi Polytechnic when the single and subsequently the album was released.
Keteke were signed to Kay’s Frequency, an Accra based record label that also housed artistes like the Native Funk Lords and producers such as Appietus and Jay Q. It has to be said that, the production work on ‘’Chio Chio’’ was the handiwork of Appietus.
“Chio Chio” was Keteke’s public service announcement. It was a proclamation of intent by these young rappers to be taken seriously by both their peers and industry watchers. (Sadly, they fizzled out after their debut album). Like most hiplife songs of the mid-90s to mid-2000s which drew inspiration from American hip hop music, “Chio Chio” embodied that same spirit. One could hear the boom-bap feel of New York hip hop and the DJ scratches which draws you in at the beginning of the record. The rapping was done with strong urgency and intensity. Their deliveries cut through the beat with great sense of believability.
2001 was the year I first heard of Keteke and what was becoming a national hit. My connection with the song was on Skyy Power FM in Takoradi, which had become a favourite station of mine around the early 2000s. (The voice of Robert Gardiner aka Bob Gee got me hooked). Before long, I was watching their videos on Metro TV’s ‘’Advertising Cycle’’. Then, I heard the record on the University of Cape Coast-based Radio Valco, on a show hosted by Andy the Irresistible. I was done with school and had a lot of time on my hands. Listening to the radio, spending time on the basketball court and playing hockey became my ‘get occupied moments’.
Back to the song. Train driver opened the record with a rallying call: ‘’Come and see Keteke/Keteke, we’re coming’’. What followed was an exercise in self promotion through boastful lyrics like ”Keteke, y3 ka y’ansasem sene obiaa” (our raps carry wisdom than the rest) and their desire to be heard across the shores of Ghana and the US. Well, that wish to have their songs cross over into the US never materialized as the group disbanded after their first album.
Despite the short-lived career of Keteke, the group was able to etch their names on the music scene courtesy “Chio Chio” and “Alele”. Those whose lived through the time when Keteke’s songs were hot on the radio would always remember it for nostalgic reasons. The noise that the keteke made was too loud to forget.