Song: Best Rapper Alive
Artiste: Okyeame Kwame
Beat box: Beatbender GH
Author: Kwame Dadzie
Preamble: RAP! Some call it Rhythm And Poetry. Others say it is Rhythmic African Poetry. Whichever definition you adhere to, the underlying denominators are ‘rhythm’ and ‘poetry.’
Rappers abound but few do rap that evoke poetic sentiments. Okyeame Kwame has his name etched in the annals of Ghana’s rap music as one of the few whose poetic astuteness to rap is honed to the bone.
His new rap song is titled “Best Rapper Alive” (BRA). I have scored the entire production 90%. As you read along, you get to know what informed my assessment.
Beat and Production: The beat boxing was done by Beatbender GH. Beat boxing is a form of vocal percussion which basically involves the art of imitating the sound of drum machines by using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. The one done on ‘Best Rapper Alive’ is a hip hop induced beat which relays into ‘kete’ when it gets to the chorus. Even with the ‘kete’ portion, the beat still uses the hip hop sounds to make the 6/8 rhythm of the ‘kete’ fit into the 2/4 hip hop beat.
General Flow: Okyeame Kwame as usual, attacks the beat. His confidence and breath control are attributes of his that make him easily walk on the beat in the two verses and the ‘outro.’
Message: This is not the first time Okyeame Kwame has said he is the Best Rapper Alive but this is the first song he is doing to cement that claim to fame. ‘Best Rapper Alive’ talks about Okyeame Kwame’s exceptional rap qualities that put him ahead of his contenders. Typical of hip hop culture, this is another self – politics song.
Content Analysis: To understand Okyeame’s verses, you need to put your poetry appreciation cap on. He uses a lot of literary devices to carry his message.
It is lovely how Okyeame uses puns to string his lyrics. For example, the second line of Verse 1of the song, ‘wontumi ntwa me te sɛ opemu’ is a very creative word play. Even though it literally means “you can’t drink me like opemu,” it also means, “you can’t overtake me even if you think you are a boss.”
Then he continues by saying ‘nti ka nea wobetumi ayɛ na yenfrɛ wo Seidu (Say-do). Seidu is a name of a person but lyrically, because he asks one to say what they can do, he calls them ‘Say-do.’
Rhyme – Kwame perfectly chooses both internal and end rhymes. His rhyme patterns make sense. He doesn’t just rhyme with words; every rhyming word has a special poetic effect. There are times he rhymes with the stresses of words in phrases. With poetic license, he sometimes alters the articulation of some words placing the primary and secondary stress at different places so they can rhyme with a previous line. For some Twi words, he changes them from being tonic to take on primary and secondary stress – for the sake of rhyme.
However, there get a point in the rap that I cringe at. Getting to the end of verse 1, he says “…I disagree with Einstein’s Relativity…” I find that expression quite inapposite because it makes the rap sound too academic. It appears the Rap Doctor just wants to bully his fans and contenders with big terms and phrases. Well, maybe making reference to the great thinkers like Einstein and Archimedes show how ready he is to study for his PhD, and consequently vie for seat of Ghana’s presidency.
The Singing: The chorus is done in ‘kete’ vein. It is canter and chorus style that has sweet harmonies in traditional 3rd and 6th intervals. Again, that brings out the natural voices of the singers without any accompaniments of melodic instruments. That is a feature of such traditional music. They come out best without chordal backing from the keyboard or guitars.
Conclusion: It’s been quite a long time Okyeame Kwame did hardcore rap of a nature. I strongly hope ‘Best Rapper Alive’ will earn OK the Best Rapper of the Year nomination in next year’s Ghana Music Awards because it passes for a classic rap song.
Click here to listen to Best Rapper Alive.