The Versatility of Okyeame Kwame’s “Mr. Versatile”

Just like ‘Mr. Versatile’, this article is for that person who understands and appreciates the beauty of music, or that person who is willing to know and appreciate the beauty of music.

It is without doubt that to live up to the hype is always difficult. This is true because maintaining success is difficult than achieving it. However, when there is a blend of talent, determination and diversity, leadership is always made easier.

One comment noticed about fans and some critics on blogs and social websites concerning musicians has been the desire for something new. New in respect to the fact that the artiste always be in his best in lyrical dexterity, expresses creativity, art and make a hit song; be it singing or rapping. Owing to this, however, there is little success when Ghanaian music is viewed in line with artistry. Multiple award winning music producer, Zapp Mallet expresses similar claim saying “The knack for talent and creativity is there but the art side of doing the music is not there as at now” (peacefmonline.com, 2012).

Arguably, however, only few Ghanaian artistes display in-depth skills in music. And among the few, there is this one multiple award winning artiste whose aim is to have Ghana taken to the heights of musical invention and poetry throughout the world.

He is the CEO of the record label, One Mic Entertainment. He is known in the entertainment circles as Okyeame Kwame (O.K), Best Rapper Alive, and Rap Doctor. And in his bio on twitter,@OkyeameKwamegh, he says “I define RAP – Rhythmic African Poetry”. Why this is important
lies in the sense that “Rhythmically”, Okyeame Kwame can sound like a beat when rapping.

As “African”, he lives not little but large traces of his origin as a Ghanaian in all his music. And “Poetically,” his aesthetic quality of invoking meaning out of his lyrics, and the sequence of his lyrical contents throw out no doubt that he is indeed an experienced lyricist. It is in this view that the versatility of Okyeame Kwame’s latest single; ‘Mr. Versatile’ is analytically looked at.

THE VIDEO

During the official video premiere of ‘Mr. Versatile’ at Nhyiaeso, Kumasi, ace creative director, Kwesi Kyei Darkwah (KKD) states that Okyeame Kwame needs to be celebrated. The reason being that his song, ‘Mr. Versatile’ is one of a kind which, in his (KKD) line of work and travels around the world, he has not come across any before (viasat1.com, 2012).

Displaying different personas of Rap Doctor, as stated by the video director, Pascal AKA, the video looks at the artiste in nine different outlooks. This is mixed with the chorus in which Irene Logan is also shown in four different stances all for purpose of “creating harmony in music no matter the race or colour, and also express myself artistically”, states Okyeame Kwame when he spoke on the purpose of composing ‘Mr. Versatile’.

As technical as it may look, with various transitional effects, the video’s incorporation of every scene leaves no denying its versatility. It looks not simple but energetic with traits of the African and the Western culture.

Okyeame Kwame is heard saying “I am too old for swag so I flaws” but it is interesting to note that he is rather seen swaging throughout the video, even at the moment he makes that statement. If it is wondered how important it is to consider this, it is because it throws light on his poetic ability of using irony to create a “spectacle”, he reveals, on his competence.

CONTENT OF MR. VERSATILE

Okyeame Kwame has said that he is the brain behind the content of this music, and as to how unique and brilliant it is, Mr. Versatile combines nine different music genres within 4 minutes, 52 seconds. The first is the chorus, which fuses hip hop and R&B, then Ragga, and then hiplife follows, after which the chorus again makes way for what Okyeame Kwame is quick to call the ‘Adoa-Kete fusion’ since it has features of the two.

This, he explains that it cannot be only one aspect because Adoa is “slow and graceful and this is fast, so it is more like Kete, but we can’t call it Kete because Kete is faster than what I did.” That said and still on the content, the Adoa-Kete fusion gracefully invites highlife where Okyeame Kwame is heard singing. Then ‘hip hop’ radiates the stylistic audible sound of Okyeame Kwame’s flow and delivery, mingled with ‘Rock and Roll’ beat and guitar in the midsection of the hip hop segment. Then ‘Swing’ends the verses of the music where O.K. is seen in the video singing with a glass of wine.

LYRICS

Okyeame Kwame says that with his knowledge in the industry, “the world will bear me witness that this is the first of its kind” and so with over a decade of experience he feels it’s time he gets recognized in the Guinness Book of Records for his acts and long standing uniqueness on the MIC (ghanaweb.com, 2012).

This makes it even necessary to state the need that he gets recognized in the BET Awards and Grammys as well because lyrically, “Mr. Versatile” really expresses its theme; Okyeame Kwame and his artistic ability. “A lyricist is a person who has a way with words, so to speak. He is able to come up with words that effectively suit a particular type of music keeping in mind the genre, theme, length and rhythm of the music”, says songwriter and member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Espie Estrella (about.com, 2012).

Rakim is considered one of hip hop’s greatest MCs not for nothing. He states in his song “How To Emcee” that to be a“true emcee icon or idol
The contents you put in your songs are vital Slam thoughts on a canvas flip em and pin em metaphors and similes and synonyms in em”, and goes on to say the artiste has to “float your rhymes and your rap pages word play punch lines and catch phrases.”

By way of statements, one of many vital statements in ‘Mr. Versatile’ can be noted in the first verse. And for purpose of this article, however, the verse is translated and expressed through the following, “the brain is in unison with the heart that music is what the body will do the eyes having opened its doors the head having opened its ears so that we get messages across the tongue rolls it the teeth delivers it on to the lips and the lips delivers it to your ears”.

Why the above statement is vital remains in Okyeame Kwame’s response, “It is my calling to do music for the listeners”.

LITERARY TECHNIQUES

Fond of employing various literary techniques in most of his lyrics, ‘Mr. Versatile’, unlike ‘SIKA’ which personifies money, has the “Best Rapper Alive” speak directly on his artistic abilities much with Alliteration, consonance, allusions, similes, personification and onomatopoeia just to mention a few.

Alliteration: The raga, hiplife, and swing segments all contain alliterations. Alliteration is the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of a series of words or phrases.

Consonance: Right from the hook to the Raga, Hiplife, Adoa-Kete fusion, highlife, hiphop and swing aspects of the music, ‘Mr. Versatile’ has elements of consonance. Consonance is a poetic
device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession.

In terms of Allusion, however, Okyeame Kwame has statements as “In my mind I’m Russell Simons, on the mic I’m Erick Sermon”. Allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either
directly or by implication. Come to think of it, Russell Simons is an American business magnate, co-founder of hip hop label, Def Jam and creator of clothing fashion lines, Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. Erick Sermon is an American rapper, musician, and record producer. He is well-known as half of late-1980s–1990s hip hop group EPMD.

“Psalm 28 be my sermon, me go fall de3 charley naah man I de shine like Drobga’s perming” is however a typical example of a Simile. A simile compares two unlike quantities by employing the words “like”, “as”, or “than”. In this regard, “me ye high tese Morris Voice” which is heard in the hiphop section should give no doubt that it is also an example of a simile since “tese” in English means “like”. Morris D’Voice is a Ghanaian producer and musician known for his singing
aptitude.

Personification: The ‘Best Rapper Alive’ is quoted and translated to say in the high life section that “Fire, Sun, Lava, and Venus know that as for Kwame he is hot”. Personification simply gives human characteristics to inanimate objects. It is only humans that know.

Onomatopoeia: It is the formation of a word that imitates or suggests the sound that it represents. “Bra be gye wo ayaresa na wo be kuta wo krurraaah” is a line in the hiplife aspect which is translated “come for your healing and you will have your cup”. “Krurraah” is the Akan
name for cup. When it is rubbed hard on the floor, the sound heard is “Kruurrrr”.

PUNCH LINES AN CATCHY PHRASES

This is important because it tells the maturity of the artiste. The Rap Doctor’s use of punch lines is evident in “ma twamu wor areeba adu MTN, wo da soaah wor space”. Why this is, follows. Having started as Spacefon, MTN, to which Okyeame Kwame is an icon, has moved from
Areeba to become Ghana’s telecommunication network with biggest subscriber base.

With reference to Okyeame Kwame’s lyrics, Progression in success is undoubtedly vital. It also serves as another form of publicity for MTN. And what’s more, O.K would also not hesitate to say “me
tsere beef, me ye vegetarian, humanitarian, egalitarian, me tsere totalitarian” as an interesting punch line. This is because two meanings, the first of which is that he hates controversies. The
second could be that he is allergic to meats to which he states that he is a vegetarian. And to the controversies, he is a humanitarian, egalitarian who hates totalitarian.

On Catchy Phrase, one very important phrase is noticed in but not limited to the first line in the hiplife section. This phrase can be translated and expressed through “I enthrone myself a King
The one that has propelled me Is my Lord.”

Interpretively, this is catchy because customs and traditions do not give anybody the mandate to enthrone himself King. It also links to the fact that O.K acknowledges his calling into music and therefore calls attention to the fact that he needs to be celebrated for his skills.

MELODY

Melodically, the chorus stands out so clearly and charming with Irene’s mellifluous voice. The same can be said of the Highlife and Swing section, where its soothing sound clearly paints the genre.

RHYTHM

Rhythmically, the song incorporates eight different pulses but has the same tempo. Each beat carries one particular genre and melody well mixed by ace music producer, Zapp Mallet. How Okyeame Kwame is however able to rhythmically sound like a beat as stated in the beginning of
this article brings Flow and Delivery to book.

FLOW AND DELIVERY

In beat making, a paradiddle is a term used to describe two single strokes followed by a double stroke. There are two types of paradiddles; they are single and double. A double paradiddle has
a double alternating single strokes and a double stroke. Having given acute ears to some parts of the music, it is noticed that Okyeame Kwame is able to deliver like a double paradiddle drum beat. This is evident in the Adoa-Kete fusion which also has big features of a paradiddle beat.

He even attests to this by saying that the time signature of the Adoa-Kete fusion changes from what the original signature mode of the song is, in that the “whole rap and the song changes from the basic 4/4 time signature to 6/8 when it gets to that point”. His delivery in the raga aspect also testifies the fact that it is in line with a single paradiddle beat. And what is more, he would stop at nothing to roll with his flow in the hip hop segment.

RHYME SCHEMES: Just like most rapping rhyme schemes uses the couplet rhymes, so is Mr. Versatile, but it goes further to include internal rhymes and end rhymes. These are clear throughout all the verses on the track.

VERSATILITY

There are key elements that make “Mr. Versatile” versatile, and apart from the combination of the 8 genres and the beats is the following.

Language: O.K incorporates Twi, Pidgin, and English in ‘Mr. Versatile’.

Tempo: It is noticed that Okyeame Kwame is able to switch tempos in his delivery. Each genre has its delivery tempo different from the other. The hip hop alone contains three different delivery tempos.

Subject Matter: Each genre including the chorus carries one unique message but the theme of the whole music is one.

Video transition: Every part of the video defends the music’s versatility right from different outfits by Irene and Okyeame Kwame to switches of different scenes

With all these observations taken into record, it is no denying the idea that there is definitely the desire that you take a second look at the video and the music. Visit OkyeameKwame.com for the whole album or singles. Or you can visit YouTube for the video; Mr. Versatile by
Okyeame Kwame.

Mr. Versatile is the second single off the album, ‘The Okyeame Kwame Versatile Show’. It was produced by Victor Dey, recorded by Dan Grahl and part of the Shabo crew, and was however mixed and mastered by Zapp Mallet.

The Okyeame Kwame Versatile Show comes up live in the National Theatre on the 14 th of December, 2012 with great performances in what Okyeame Kwame describes as a blend of Dance, Music, and Theater. You can’t afford to miss it because you will definitely receive value
for your time and money.

Source: By Edmund A. Sakyi

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