The Battle Of Equals: How Lil Shaker And Ko-Jo Cue Sold Out A Battle.
A lot has happened in the musical lives of Lil_Shaker and Ko-Jo Cue since last year. The release of their album, ”Pen & Paper”, was acclaimed by both fans and critics. They held a concert- The Pen & Paper Concert– to celebrate its release last year. A few months ago, they picked the award for Best Special Effects Video at the 2017 4Syte Music Awards.
The goodwill they have courted from the past was on display last Saturday at the amphitheatre of Alliance Francaise when the duo, with backing from their label, BBnZ held their second concert: ”Shaker Vs Ko-Jo Cue”.
Styled like a boxing match, the two were introduced on stage by a ring announcer whose mic dropped from the sky. Ko-Jo Cue was the first to appear on the boxing ring designed stage, rapping to ‘Champion’, a song from his ‘The Shinning’ Mixtape. Lil Shaker emerged next. And with the fans applauding both artists, the tone was set for an epic battle.
The two lead acts called on stage their respective teammates for ‘battle’, one contender at a time . The reaction each performer drew from the crowd was based on how much effort they put behind their act. Lil’ Shaker and Cue played the role of MCs, coaches and rappers.
Note: I left before the event ended. Forgive me if I don’t highlight some performers on the evening.
The over two dozen artists who mounted the stage on the night did the best they could. But, as it is with such events, some artists acquitted themselves better than others.
Yung Pabi was a great sight to behold. His stage confidence, delivery, ability to move the crowd was incredible. It was therefore not surprising when the audience kept applauding during his performance. In fact, I am yet to see a poor outing from Yung Pabi. Kula, in his military fatigue made sure he entertained the crowd with his set.
It was, to quote Darkovibes, ‘mad op’ when Ko-Jo Cue performed “Wole Remix” along with Shaker, Kay-Ara and Temple (Pata). The energy volts was off the roof. Dada Eli (of Two Cedi) whom I was sitting next to scaled over a few pews to hit the stage during the performance. And when it was over, Ko-Jo Cue requested Temple to enchant the crowd with a freestyle. Temple showed all why he is a top tier lyricist and must be taken seriously.
Tulenkey was good. Quamina Mp’s energy was great. CJ Biggerman (first time seeing him on stage) enthralled. Dancehall artist, Epixode exuded flagrant bundle of energy. The diminutive artist was dashing from one end of the stage to another. So much was he in the moment that he forgot Ko-Jo Cue was his ‘enemy’; shouting him out as ‘King Ko-Jo Cue’ during a freestyle session when he was supposed to bust a rhyme in praise of his ‘boss’ Shaker. He later made amends to a loud cheer from the crowd. Size The Truth didn’t get the crowd to his side immediately. It took his ‘Never Told’ tune to get them raving. A smart move.
Seeing Klu on stage with Cue was very refreshing. Klu, unfortunately doesn’t get celebrated enough for his contribution to afro- trap music, along with Dex Kwasi (the father of the genre). Opanka showing up was a surprise for me. He held it down as well.
The best performer on the night was undoubtedly TeePhlow. Damn! He was flawless. From his delivery to his on-stage poise, Phlow proved to all gathered that, he deserve a top spot on the best rapper list.
I’ve attended a lot of rap concerts and most often than not, you have the crowd jamming to the performance. But, on this particular night, everybody was seated, attentively listening to the rhymes TeePhlow was dropping and applauding intermittently. My hommie Safo (@forksafo ) would be proud since he believes hip hop performances must be watched and not jammed to.
Despite these stellar outing by some of the artists, there were a few who need to improve on their stagecraft.
An artist like Wan-O sounded like a man gasping for breathe a few minutes into his performance. On the bright side, he has presence, thanks to his stature. He should capitalize on that by improving on his performance. ”Take Your Something” rapper, Twitch must learn from the Ofori Amponsah episode: having (a) hit is great but a poor performance could ruin your progress. Twitch was absolutely a boring watch. I was expecting much from Kofi Mole. I was however, left biting on my nails. He performed of ‘Mensah’ which obviously was loved by the audience. His output was forgettable. Personally, it was a disappointing performance. Adomaa delivered a ‘quickie’ of a performance because she had to move to another event. She literally ‘passed through’ the event.
The boxing ring styled stage fed into the overall theme of the concert. The main acts bringing out their team of artists was a cool idea. It wasn’t only the teams that were grouped in two. Each camp brought their own DJs as well. This was proof of the level of competitiveness between the two camps.
The stage illumination wasn’t the best for pictures unless you have your camera lights on. I’ve been to a couple of concerts at Alliance and the stage lighting has always been great. Sound-wise, they scored a hundred. The sounds didn’t bounce off the walls and the mics worked throughout the period I was present .
Do I think the artist roster was too long? Yes. They could have kept it a bit short, at least 10 apiece. This would have handed some of the artists enough time to impress and make new fans among the audience.
I, however, get why the roster was this long. Shaker and Cue have a lot of ‘friends’ who they must put on. Also, having been close to an event organizer, turning down request from artists could be very daunting especially when you have a relationship with them. Sometimes, a good experience should not be sacrificed on the altar of friendliness.
The concert was a great outing for Shaker and Cue, who are building something for their fans with backing from their label, BBnZ. Such stages are opportunities for new artists to court new fans. The ability of Shaker and Cue to pepper the event with humorous, friendly quips can’t go unmentioned. In sum, Cue and Shaker have created an event with the potential of becoming huge.
And a little advice to artists: please, learn to put your best foot forward whenever such ‘little’ opportunities come your way. Also, stop ‘launching’ your new music at these such events (hello Klu). Concert goers aren’t there for that. Win them over with your old, top tunes.