“2020 is a movie. What we failed to do is to choose which genre”. A tweet summed up the horrid year we are still enduring. For what was to be a year full of dreams and success, 2020 has turned out to be a bad dream where losses have tilted the scale of progress, leaving many reeling. The losses inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic is in its sixth month, and counting.
Humanity is still discerning and adjusting to it. The immediate effect has ranged from death to loss of jobs, hampered mobility across cities and the world. Everyone is on edge. While COVID-19 is dealing us a hefty hook, police brutality in the United States, necessitated by racially motivated killing of George Floyd has inspired global protests.
Despite the pandemic and its associated craziness, many have found solace in music. From Instagram Live inspired battles and interviews to Covid-19 related compositions, artists have been busy. Music consumers have also stayed loyal to their favourites artists, solidarising and supporting their endeavours.
Jayso is one of the most important figures within the Ghanaian hip hop scene. He has exhibited his class as a rapper, producer, A&R, music executive and an entrepreneur. What started as Jayso’s birthday gift to fans for their support has become an annual venture. The “0106” series is in its fifth year. The series has also become a platform to showcase some of today’s young talented rappers. On this project, Jayso would feature a couple of talented up comers, rapping over beats by Jayso, Drvmroll, Mike Kwa6i, Epidemix, Anywaywell.
“0106 Vol. 5” begins with “Note To Ezra”, a song dedicated to his new born son. Jayso has a lot to celebrate this year besides his birthday. His son, Ezra was born while making this EP, a disclosure he makes on the Intro. Over a soulful beat filled with kick and bass, hi-hats and soothing piano chords, Jayso would share his happiness, offer advice on life to baby Ezra aka Kwesi Picasso.
He would also offer a number of nods to his wife for carrying Ezra, rapping: “she sacrificed her own happiness just so you could smile ‘cos that’s what her passion is”. “Note to Ezra” reminds me of Jay-Z’s “Glory”, released after the birth of his daughter Blue. Just like Jayso intimated in the song, the birth of Ezra is the joy he and his wife needs in this crazy time.
Kelvin Black and Copta would appear on “Opeimu”, the trap sounding record produced by Drvmroll. Kelvin Black, Jayso and Copta would share their dreams, casting an outlook on the rap scene. “I no dey copy trends, tryna move the fan outta the trenches”, Kelvin Black opens his verse, showcasing a variety of flows including his hiccup-esque delivery. Jayso would take the baton and lay down how rap has paid his bills with a hue of modesty. Copta, an associate of both Jayso and Drvmroll would remind us of how he ‘needed the lambo before his learners’ – dude is prepared for the great future ahead.
With “Right Here, Right Now”, let’s talk about TiTi Owusu’s vocals and how it sounds on the record. That concert hall ambience adds a layer of glow to her pristine soulful crooning. “Right Here, Right Now” is not just soulful, but the theme and message is relevant, offering the song a timeless aura. Jayso, Kwame Swerve, Kev The Topic explore the irony of not smelling your flowers while alive. Whereas Kwame Swerve glides over the song like a skater on a rink, Kev The Topic verse sounds like a personal tale.
Three songs into the tape, you realize how the sequencing produces an ebb and flow feel in terms of sonic appeal- the intensity of a record is doused by a mid-tempo, soulful record on the preceding track. “Disaster”, which comes off the heels of the soulful “Right Here, Right Now” – the perfect, more musical song- exemplifies the point on the sequencing of the tape. “Disaster” seeps with nostalgia as Jayso teams up with J-Town and E.L; two of the original members of the Skillions. “Fit For A Queen” ploughs through the afropop/afro-fusion field, giving it a potential mainstream radio advantage.
“0106 Vol. 5 Cypher”, the posse cut on the EP appears to have caught the attention of people. The reason is not far-fetched: the cypher features some young talented names in the genre of rap. Jayso affords them a slate to write their own truth on this hook less song. All the featured rappers stepped up to the plate, including Elsie Raad, the only female MC who solidified her position as one of the best rappers around. The trap induced closing song “No Mess” featuring $pacely slumps in comparison with the other six records in terms of memorability. Both verses from Jayso and $pacely lacked that sticking power.
Overall, “0106 Vol. 5” has its highs and lows, beginning with the force behind it – a birthday tape and birth of Ezra. Again, records like Opeimu, Right Here, Right Now, The Cypher would stick out for the listener. Lovers of hip hop music would get served. Considering who Jayso is and how long it took for him to release his debut “Making Tasha Proud” (which was a decade), it’s quite impressive to see him drop 5 projects in 5 years. “0106 Vol. 5” is another push of hip hop music in Ghana. However, the question of good marketing of the tape to maximize any form of benefits that could leveraged by especially the young talents featured on the tape still remains. That’s, how would this tape be positioned to sell these rappers beyond the hype it received a couple of days after its release.
Words By: Swaye Kidd