Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hiplife Videos on YouTube

These were most likely ripped from a VCD bootleg collection of popular hiplife "clips," the kind you would buy off a guy selling them out of his backpack or a wodden kiosk in virtually any town in Ghana.

"Ahomka Womu" - VIP

VIP's classic cut, "Ahomka Womu," one which you should definitely know about. The song combines old school highlife in a really tasteful way, making it one of the biggest tracks in the last few years. The first couple verses of rhymes are dead-on with catchy phrasing. A relatively interesting video, especially near the end when the trio of rappers/singers have a 70s flashback moment complete with matching suits and afros.

The majority of music video directors in Ghana stay away from ironic or conceptual themes. There are some notable exceptions, though.

King Luu is one of the most ambitious directors in Ghana today. He has been in the business since it started back in the mid-90s, putting together over the years countless memorable clips for hiplife, gospel, and highlife artists.

"Adua No Ebu," the big-budget, high-concept video he shot for masters of irony Nkasei a few years back, exemplifies King Luu's vision. With a clip, he wants to tell a story, Luu told me one afternoon. "Adua No Ebu" depicts the slave trade in Africa and is set on a green mountain far from the homes of the urbanite rappers and production staff.

There is nothing on the web (yet) in regards to "Adua No Ebu," but the video is considered a classic. It features Reggie Rockstone to boot, who does a verse in English. The song is critical of colonialism and the post-colonial mentality. I may eventually post excerpts of my interviews about the song with the members of Nkasei and video director King Luu.

"Toffee" - Castro

This is Castro ("the Destroyer"). He's a big star now that this song is played fifty million times a day on the radio. Catchy nonetheless, using Congolese bass and drums riddim courtesy of celebrity engineer J-Que. "Toffee" is a King Luu video.


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