Review of Photosentences by Mutombo Da Poet

Cover Art of Photosentences

Spoken word poetry is seeped in the African and Black experience. The culture goes back to pre-colonial times when bards, linguists and storytellers could memorise and recall an extraordinary amount of oral content. The rich oral tradition was a necessity because of the poverty of written language.

The avant-garde spoken word poet, Mutombo Da Poet (@MutombodaPoet), released his debut album “Photosentences” in mid-2012. The 13-track album was produced by the Pidgen Music label.

The album features laid back music production, so the focus is on Mutombo’s powerful voice blasting through the speakers. In the album, he covers themes such as abortion, corruption, rural-urban drift, childhood memories, pan-Africanism and Ghana’s landscape.

Mutombo’s style of poetry is optimised for performance i.e. the emphasis is on the rhymes. Although no one will mistake the album for a rap album, Mutombo tends to stress the rhymes in his poems, pausing a bit after each rhyme. This is one of the major differences between spoken word and written poetry. The rhyme is not as important when conventional written poetry is being read out.

Mutombo not only paints pictures with his words, but with his voice as well. In “Parade” you can feel the anger in his voice as he expresses his frustration with corruption. My favourite track on the album is “Natives to Slaves”. This tale of colonialism and slavery is perfectly accompanied by a haunting soundtrack produced by Wanlov the Kuborlor.

Overall, the album is a good mix of urban and traditional storytelling, and many a Ghanaian youth will relate to this, even non-lovers of poetry.

CediTalk rating: 3.5/5 Stars.

Tracklisting:
01.Talking Drum 02.Changes 03.Unborn Talks 04.Sweet Memories 05.Ten Regions 06.My Thoughts 07.Paddies 08.Parade 09.Internal Migration 10.Natives to Slaves 11.Kicking Buckets 12.Vibes 13.X Ray

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Jerome Kuseh

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2 comments

  1. My first complaint is with this:

    “The rhyme is not as important when conventional written poetry is being read out.”

    It is not true. Rhyme is important in written poetry. More important, if I should argue. What's with the spoken word performers is the emphasis they lay on the rhyme. This is something largely borrowed from rap music.

    With the limited arsenal available, rhyme and metaphor are heavily relied upon by the spoken word performer.

    My next is this: poetry need not be accompanied by music. True poetry, that is. It is deeply musical in nature, and can exist alone. The by-force marriage of poetry with music is killing the art, in my opinion.

  2. My first complaint is with this:

    “The rhyme is not as important when conventional written poetry is being read out.”

    It is not true. Rhyme is important in written poetry. More important, if I should argue. What's with the spoken word performers is the emphasis they lay on the rhyme. This is something largely borrowed from rap music.

    With the limited arsenal available, rhyme and metaphor are heavily relied upon by the spoken word performer.

    My next is this: poetry need not be accompanied by music. True poetry, that is. It is deeply musical in nature, and can exist alone. The by-force marriage of poetry with music is killing the art, in my opinion.

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