For years, Kojo Antwi has been moving hearts with his rhythms and rhymes. All of the popular songs he has released over a period of about three decades speak to the heart and move it in diverse, pleasant ways. On his latest album (titled ‘Mwaaah!’) Kojo is not just seeking to move hearts. He wants to move feet and any other moveable part of the body.
You can call it the party album. Kojo has packed more danceable tunes on this album than any of his past releases. Listen to the songs and you get the sense that the older Kojo Antwi is more of a party animal than the younger Kojo Antwi ever was. The heavy, fast paced drum beats stand this album out from all the others.
Half of the songs on the 14-track album are songs that are best enjoyed on the dance floor. These are definite club bangers and party hits featuring the likes of Freddie Meiway and the best Ghanaian songbird of all time, Nana Yaa. The songs will make you swing your head, raise your hands, bend down, gyrate, bump and grind – anything that passes for dancing for you.
They are the sort of tunes that will make lousy dancers like me take to the dance floor to do the ‘asaboni’. The songs variously have elements of regular highlife, zoblazo, ‘kpalongo’ and techno beats as well as ear-pleasing, heart-warming and mind-blowing sound effects.
The first of the club bangers is ‘Shoo Naa’ (Kiss me) with Freddy Meiway, who does quite well to sing in Twi, Ga, English and his native tongue. The drums make some beautiful noise on this track and the bass-line is unusual with pleasant, danceable hooks that merge quite well with the drum beats. You may not understand all the words on this track but that won’t matter when it pushes you to the dance floor.
My favourite of the dance songs on this album, however, is ‘Me Mmo’ (I won’t beat you), which is done in a contemporary ‘kpalongo’/Techno vein. It’s too good for the dancehall and its thumping beats would create an exhilarating buzz to keep every club and party alive. Never mind that the song is about paying no mind to the person bothering you, choosing rather to suffer in silence – ‘Me mmo’ is the song you play when you want to make a lot of noise and shake whatever you’ve got to shake. Wherever I hear this song being played, I wouldn’t mind taking out my handkerchief.
You can say the same about ‘Dofa’, performed with Nana Yaa. With its techno rhythms and easy to sing-along chorus, ‘Dofa’ (or half-love’) is not the sort of song you listen to with your bum fixed in a chair.
Kojo Antwi’s legend has always been in his ability to redefine himself and provide his fans with something pleasantly unexpected. There is more than ample testimony to this on ‘Mwaaah!’ But he’s careful and wise enough not to completely stray from what his fans love him for. A couple of the songs have the typical Kojo Antwi mid-tempo reggae-highlife vibe.
‘Adiepena’, for example, is a sentimental offering in a lovers’ rock groove, complete with multiple drumbeats and delightful sound effects. And Kojo is at his vocal best on this track. He sings from the sincerest part of his heart in a manner intended to break the walls we sometimes build around our hearts. ‘Adiepena’ is a very good "I am sorry" song and if your better half doesn’t take you back after listening to it, just move on. It’s also the sort of song that makes you want to engage the ‘repeat’ button.
Another mid-tempo song ‘Ice Cold’, which is quite R&B-ish, underscores Kojo Antwi’s legendary versatility. It would have done quite well without the rap by Dyloot but I suppose Kojo featured him (as he always does) to give the younger, relatively unknown musician a chance to fly awhile on his wings.
The title track ‘Mwaaah!’ is pretty cool but if you are not a thoroughbred Kojo Antwi fan, you’d need to listen to it over and over again before you start to swing to it.
On this album, Kojo Antwi also offers a beautiful R&B remix of a classic highlife piece, ‘Mesan aba’, originally performed by Yamoah’s Band. The electric sound effects are cool and Beverly Tawiah’s vocal range on the second part of the song is even more electrifying.
The last of the mid-tempo songs on this album, ‘Happy Anniversary’, is in fact the first track on the CD. It should be Kojo Antwi’s best gift for all married couples. It’s simply a masterpiece. I think it is the first Ghanaian wedding anniversary song. I stand to be corrected but I don’t think I’ve heard any Ghanaian musician sing about the subject of wedding anniversaries. Kojo Antwi does it so cleverly with suave vocals and special sound effects and at a tempo slow enough for anniversary couples to jive and smooch to.
It’s always difficult to choose a favourite song on a Kojo Antwi album. ‘Mwaaah!’ is no different. I can count at least eight potential number one hits on the album. That they are coming from an artist who has been around for more than three decades is yet another testament to the legend of the one and only ‘Mr. Musicman’.