by Jerome Kuseh
Following the launch of the Vocal Portraits album last year, a lot of attention was turned on the Ghanaian spoken word scene. I felt the album was a natural progression from Mutombo Da Poet’s Photosentences and the many performances of Chief Moomen (including at a memorial service for the late President Atta Mills) and was an indication that spoken word poetry was on the verge of breaking into the mainstream. That has not exactly happened.
Sure, more people know of spoken word now. But the primary vehicle for the promotion of this art form is still social media. A lot of the albums are still bought directly from the artistes themselves. Mutombo recently wrote a blog post complaining about the poor payments to spoken word artistes for their public performances.
I fear that spoken word may continue to enjoy critical acclaim without benefiting from commercial success. With the release of Vocal Portraits 2, such a situation would indeed be tragic. The album is amazing, and deserves to be heard by a wider audience outside of the the spoken word community and its core fans.
Unlike its predecessor, this collection features more laid back beats which allow the poets voice to lead the charge. There is also more use of Twi, Ga and Pidgin in VP2 than the first album. Veteran poet, Kwame Write, once again dominates the scene. He pours out his best wordplay, metaphors, rhyme and alliteration into this work. Stand-out performances include Afi Biara by Achiebold Acheampong, Trans(mission) by Kwame Write, Saint Ho’ by Poetra Asantewaa and We No Dey Fear Huu by Jahwi.
VP2 is better than the first one in many ways. The album sounds more Ghanaian, the artistes bring their A-game and Drumnayshin and Boney keep their production profile low enough for the poets’ voice to dominate the track.
To show their commitment towards improving the spoken word scene, copies of Vocal Portraits 2 will be available at all poetry events in Ghana for only GH¢5. I also recommend that you get a copy of the first VP in order to compare the albums. You can reach out to Kwame Write on twitter (@kwamewrite) about ordering a copy of the album.
Click here to listen to some of the tracks from the album.
CediTalk Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
1. In(true)duction – Kwame Write (prod. Staun&Ko)
2. Afi Biara – Achiebold Acheampong (prod. Boney) mp3
3. Mind Cast – Crystal Tettey + Kanal (prod. Drumnayshin)
4. Trans(mission) – Kwame Write (w. Iwan Gronert)
5. Mozola – Nii Ayi Solomon (prod. Drumnayshin)
6. Saint Ho’ – Poetra Ama Asantewa (prod. Boney)
7. Poe(tree) Skit
8. Owanwa – Sedi (prod. Ojigbeready)
9. Eargasm – Afurakan (prod. Leon Erasmus)
10. Stranger – Mizan The Poet (prod. Oscar Lo Brutto, TroyKamal)
11. We No Dey Fear Huu – Jahwi (w. Ansong, prod. Drumnayshin)
12. Singlehanded – Uniq Sistar (prod. Uniq Sistar)
13. Eden + Sailor + Kwame Write – Tema Feeling (w. Adam Cadell)
14. Empty Air – Lauren Goodwin (w. Yogendra, Ansong, prod. Drumnayshin)
15. My Area Girl – Kodjo Deynoo (w. Yogendra, Ansong, prod. Drumnayshin)
16. Out(throw) = If Poetry Shd Die – Kwame Write (prod. Ojigbeready)