Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ghanaian Music and their Lyrics

She burst out laughing. Couldn't help herself... then, she looked around at pedestraians and other drivers and passengers in other vehicles staring at her with puzzled expressions, as she waited for the traffic lights to turn to green. What made her laugh? Well, it was the music on the radio! A typical popular Ghanaian highlife track with the most absurd and shocking lyrics! 

It got me thinking, is it the sharp-nature of our local languages that makes it sound so extremely vulgar and absurd, or what? I thought and was like no, it was more than that; it should be the lack of imagination and the want of quick money fast; the newest characteristic of many young and upcoming Ghanaians, not just musical artists. We are in too much of a haste to make money with the littlest effort. That is why musicians  many a times can't be bothered to put so much work into the lyrics of their music, what's the point of a songwriter when he has the greatest beat? - he gets his awesome beat; puts a few words together, and... presto! ..... song hits ... and 'loochie' starts to roll on in!.... :)

Another idea comes to mind and I put it to you in the form of two questions,

Question 1: 'How many times have you seen Ghanaians shoot up to dance almost as soon as music starts to play - no matter the place they find themselves - be it at church, home, work, marketplace, taxi rank - where ever?'

Answer: ''All the time!''

Question 2: 'How many times do you actually hear these same people singing along with the 'right' words; especially, when it is in English or any other language outside their mother tongue?

Answer: ..... 0.00001% of the time!!.... hahaha.

So what does this mean? I believe it means that Ghanaians are born with music built in their heads, feet, hands and hearts... we live for the beat; our bodies automatically begin to bopp, our feet start a-tapping our fingers a-snapping, our heads a-nodding. Doesn't matter what we are listening to or what the lyrics are - it's just the beat that rocks us.... :)

These must be the reasons why our musicians normally don't spend much time on their lyrics.

I compiled a couple of lyrics (thanks to MUSEKE! - http://www.museke.com/en/requested-) to common highlife/hiplife songs that have been hits over the past couple of years.

What are your thoughts on the quality of the lyrics of most Ghanaian songs and what do you think is the cause? Perhaps some of you can also help me with the translation to English.


Album Aben wo aha
Artistes Daddy Lumba
Language Twi
Runtime 5:14
Track # 1 
Writer Charles Kojo Fosu (aka. Daddy Lumba) 
Year 1999


Chorus 8x
Manya m'adedɛdɛ (Ama) - I've got my sweet thing (Ama-ladie's name)
Me ba resu a, mente o(Ama)  - When my child cries I won't hear (Ama)

Verse 1
Ɔdɔ abɔ n'ani akyerɛ me - My love has winked at me
Ɔte biribi ara ase - She understands something
Ɔsere kakra kyerɛ me - She smiles a little at me
Dada, woama ma nane - She makes me melt
Adeɛ nsɛe yɛ a - If it's not nightfall
Awoɔ ba a, adeɛ tene wɔba o - ???

Obi abɔ pono mu anadwo yi - Somebody has kncoked on the door this night
Bɔmu a, woaha me o - If you knock you have worried me (being a bother)
Wobɔm ma m'angye so a (If you knock and I don't answer)
M'ano kita adeɛ yi (my mouth is holding onto something)
Wobɔm na mɛmmie a (If you knock and I don't open)
Mesan kita adeɛ mu (my hands are holding onto something)
Wobɔmu na m'ante a (If you knock and I don't hear)
Asisi ma so o (It has blocked my ears)

Repeat Chorus 8x 

Verse 2
Awushie (6x), aben (2x) - 'awushie' means nothing, aben- it is hot ready???
Aben wɔ aha (6x) - it's on fire here
Adeɛ yi, yɛnnoa, yɛnkye - this thing we don't boil, we don't fry
Adeɛ no ara, yɛntoto a - this thing we don't roast
Adeɛ yi, yɛnnoa, yɛnkye
Ɛno ara, yɛntoto a
Odomankoma aduane a - God-given food
A yɛfrɛ no ɔdɔ yi - that is called love
Menim ne dɛ nti - I know how good it tastes
Memma ɔdɔ nkɔ mɛnyina hɔ - I won't let my love go, don't stand there?????

Wohia na anɔpa a - You need it in the morning
Ama, aben wɔ aha - Ama (ladie's name) it's on fire!
Wohia no awiaberɛ a - You need it in the afternoon
Ama, aben wɔ aha - Ama, it is on fire! 
Wohia no anwummire a - You need it in the evening
Ama, aben wɔ aha
Wohia no anadwo a - You need it in the night
Ama, aben wɔ aha 

Repeat Chorus till fade

Video URL http://youtube.com/watch?v=EwyJkU-DOcA

This song was banned off the Ghanaian market for some time, a year or so I think. Shocking ain't lyrics ain't it? How do you translate 'aben wo aha' into English so as to capture the meaning as much as possible? ANy ideas anyone, I tried, I really did! lol

 
Album Nana awu
Artistes Daddy Lumba (DL)
Language Twi
Runtime 6:03 
Writer Charles Kojo Fosu (aka Daddy Lumba)
Year 2008


Lalalalalala (repeat)

Chorus
Ayɛ huhuuhu, (huhuuhu) huhuuhu (huhuuhu) (2x) (It has become frightening)

Hwan na ɛbɛsu nnɛ, nnɛ (2x) (Who will cry today?)
Na woasu sɛ (wiii aaa, wiii) (Who will cry like this wii aaa, wii)
Hwan na ɛbɛsu nnɛ, nnɛ (2x)
Na woasu sɛ (wiii aaa, wiii)
Obi ba rebɛsu nnɛ, (ngaa ngaa), rebɛsu nnɛ (Somebody's child will cry today, today)
Na akɔ ne ho aka sɛ (m'akoma koma) (It will get to him and he will say (my heart, my heart)????
Na woaka sɛ (m'akoma) (He will say (my heart)
Obi ba rebɛsu nnɛ, (ngaa ngaa), rebɛsu nnɛ 
Na akɔ ne ho aka sɛ (m'akoma koma, m'akoma)

Obi ba rebɛsu nnɛ, (ngaa ngaa)
Na akɔ ne ho aka sɛ (m'akoma koma, m'akoma)

Repeat Chorus 

Hwan na ɛbɛto twede kane (Who will throw the first blow?)
Hwan na ɛbɛka sɛ ɛhyɛ me bo (Who will say that it burns my chest?)
Hwan na ɛbɛka sɛ ɛhyɛ mu now,
Hwan na ɛbɛto twede kane (2x)
Hwan na ɛbɛka sɛ ɛhyɛ mu now, ɛhyɛ mu now
Gye w'ani o, (ɛhyɛ mu o) - Be happy (it pains you)
Gye w'ani o buru (o winner) - Be happy ..??? (the winner)
Gye w'ani o hey (ɛhye mu o, ɛhyɛ mu o, ɛhyɛ mu o) - Be happy (it pains you)
Gye w'ani o, (ɛhyɛ mu o) - Be happy (it pains you)
Gye w'ani o buru (na winner) - Be happy (the winner)
Gye w'ani o hey (ɛhyɛ mu o, ɛhyɛ mu o, ɛhyɛ mu o) - Be happy

Ebi bɛkɔ, (ebi bɛka), ebi bɛsu, (ebi bɛsre) - Some will go (some will stay) Some will cry (some will laugh)
Ɛte sa ei, (sa ei, sa ei, sa ei) (This is how it is)

Obi ba rebɛwu o, bɛwu o (Somebody's child is going to die, to die
Na yɛsie no, na yɛsie no, akɔ ayie o (we will bury him and go to funeral)
Obi ba rebɛwu o (bɛwu o), ɔrebɛwu o
Na yɛsie no, na yɛsie no
Fine boy - fine boy
Ɔde awerɛhoɔ akɔda, ɔde awereho akɔda (fine boy) (2x) - he has taken saddness to sleep (fine boy)
Fine boy, ɔde awerehoɔ akoda (fine boy)

Lalalalalala (repeat)

Ebinom rebɛwe nsa, de agye yɛn ani a na yɛde asa, na yɛayɛ saa (some will drink and get happy and dance)
Nkrofoɔ dan mu, ɛnnɛ, ɛnnɛ (in people's houses today today)
Bewɛ nsa, na yɛanom nsa, de agye yɛn ani a, na ayɛ saa
Nkrofoɔ dan mu, ɛnnɛ, ɛnnɛ

Sɛ ɛnka atutu tu a, (ɛnka awiase bɛgye bum bum) - if gunshots had flown (then the world will sound boom!)
Ɛnka atutu tu a, (ɛnka awiase bɛgye bum bum) (4x)
Ɛnka atutu tu o, (ɛnka awiase bɛgye bum bum) (2x)
Bum bum bum bum bum (ɛnka awiase bɛgye bum bum)
Sɛ ɛnka atutu tu a, (ɛnka awiase bɛgye bum bum)

Ɔde awerɛhoɔ akɔda, ɔde awereho akɔda (fine boy) (2x) 

Fine boy, ɔde awerehoɔ akoda (fine boy)

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus till fade

Video URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGhCw9gm3hQ

This song was made my the artist during the last presidential run-off when the political atmosphere was so tense between the two main opposition parties. A lot of Ghanians were scared as to whether their party would win and whether power would be taken away from the current ruling party - NPP. They were also afraid for civil wars to break lose as there had been a few restricitons and a lot of rumours. 


Album Eye fe kekeArtistes Slim Busterr, Tic Tac
Language Twi/Fante
Runtime 4:23
Video URL 
Writer Ebenezer Asare
Year 2000


Hook
Woyɛ me lady, lady - You are my lady, lady
Ɛnyɛ easy, easy - it's not easy, easy
Mede no bɛko me baby, baby - i will take her to my baby baby
Woyɛ me lady, lady
Ɛnyɛ easy, easy
Mede no bɛko me baby, baby
Slim, drop the track
Wodiggi, me nso me diggi, yɛn nyinaa yɛ diggidiggi  - 
Tic Tac, Slim Busterr, we drop the track (2x)

Chorus
Masan aba o (2x) - I have come again
Mayɛ wo bɔne ntsi, fakyɛ me o (2x) - Forgive me for I have done you wrong
Ɔdɔ e, masan aba o, masan aba o - My love, I am back, I am back
Mayɛ wo bɔne ntsi, ntsi na mese, fakyɛ me o (2x)

Sophia e, masan aba o - Sophia, I am back
Masan aba o, masan aba - I am back, I am back
Mayɛ wo bɔne ntsi, ntsi na mese, fakyɛ me o (2x) - I have wronged you so forgive me
Masan aba o (2x)
Mayɛ wo bɔne ntsi, ntsi na mese, fakyɛ me o (2x)
Menim dɛ, mayɛ wo bɔne ntsi - I know that I have wronged you, so forgive me
Ntsi na mese, fakyɛ me o

Verse 1
Honey, baby
Nneɛma nketenkete yi a, ɛdze yɛ me no o - it is the little things that you do to me
Ɔno ntsi na woama masan aba yi - Because of those  things that I am back
Madwen ho a, mɛhunu dɛ - I've thought about it, I've seen good things
Dze a, medzeyɛɛ wo yi, Sophia e, ɔnyɛ koraa - What I'm doing to you, Sophia, it is no good
Ɔno ntsi na (2x) - That is why
Woama, Sophia e, masan aba yi - You have let me come back Sophia
Woama, Sophia e, merepa wo kyɛw yi - You have let me come back to beg forgiveness
Na nipadasani nso, ɔnhu adze papa ara da - Humans never see good things when they come their way
Ansaa na yɛbɛhu no, gye dɛ woasɛe koraa - By the time we realise it, it is too late
Sophia e

Repeat Chorus

Verse 2
Tic Tac
Excuse me, mose ɛyɛ dɛn a
So be digging Slim, so digger
Menkɔte adɛn a, ɛyɛ ampaara
Tatatataa, mereba abɛtua me paa
Pɔpipɔpi, moba na meyada
Mahyɛ da, m'ani abre paa
Bra ha sɛ yɛfrɛ wo a, sa bi paa
Gyamera Papa Ibrahim nyɛ ɔmo papa
Na mayɛ a, it's on top, check it out
Sɛ woate a, Sweetie lady sa bi, yɛ me baby
Mongyae mo ntoatoa
Ono ankasa na me ne no bɛkɔ
Ɛnnɛ mɛkɔ, mɛkɔ

Montsie (2x)
Friday night, na ɔtse dɛn ɛ, na ɔye
Monday night nso na ɔtse dɛn ɛ, na ɔye
Ɛneda anwumire na ɔtse dɛn ɛ, na ɔye
Woyɛ tough a, woyɛ beggar
Woyɛ tough a, meyɛ fire

Repeat Chorus till fade

This is a little difficult to translate because it is all in Fante which although similar to Twi (my language) has some significant differences at times. You should see the clip to this one though... it's something else. This guy, artist, Slim Buster has one of the most flexible bodie's ever and he started out on the music scene as dance champion so his clip is all about the beat and the moves.

Any other funny and silly songs anyone knows about and wants to put up?






3 comments:

  1. Your theory on the reason for our low quality lyrics might just be true. Which is what make it so hard for people who actually want to create true music that touches the soul an stays in the heart such as me.

    Thankfully, not all hope is lost because there are still those like you and me who listen to lyrics and are capable of appreciating true art. Most of the time I find the situation absurdly funny, other times its just heartbreakingly sad.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yea, I think it's all about finding your target population and marketing it with them; then, they will patronise it and tell their friends who are likely to be just like them... don't be disheartened, determination is also key!

    ReplyDelete
  3. this is exactly what we had in mind the Museke site was started. thanks for this blog post.

    A lot of Ghanaian songs must be looked closely for the lyrics being put out there.

    ReplyDelete