Marauding suits speaking in native tongue
Burning fumes, clouding their shame from the sun
Haunting flutes play as the claim they have won
Feeling like pros at the con
Seeing only the pros to their con
Whiles woes load automatic guns
And curl like fros without combs
And shoot hollow domes
Whilst I follow stones
Down poorly lit roads
I began this posting wanting to share my experience with highlife music with the world. However, I’ve decided to broaden the conversation to be about all forms of art in general.
I grew up in Ghana, in an era of ghanaian music where the highlife rhythms of the 80s and 90s were being redefined by this new youthful and energetic blend of hip hop, funk, Soul and the African spirit called hip-life. I matured to this soundtrack ( together with hip hop and r&b which were at their peaks and steady colonizing ears all over the world). Being reclusive, consuming art was one satisfying way to live. It was the bond forged between music and I through childhood that has and is turning me into the person I am turning out to be. I listen to a weird mix, which could see me playing old school gangster rap one minute and Bocelli the next. However, I had not experienced Highlife music as it should – till a few weeks ago.
I got lucky and attended a concert at Alliance Francaise, Accra which featured three highlife legends whose music epitomize the genre. Ebo Taylor, Pat Thomas and Nana Ampadu. I was not in a bubble as a child, I did hear some of their songs like Obra by Nana Ampadu, Sika y3 Mogya by Path Thomas; yet they were just sounds to me.
Then I find myself in the cold African night, under the moonlight, possessed by an explosion of undying spirits led by lively bass guitar medleys…highlife music. Art is probably as subjective as love. There is no right or wrong; rather there is an experience. A personal connection of emotion between the artist and the audience. I can’t paint that picture for you, cos you have nothing that I know of with which you can imagine it. You have to experience and it may or may not be this way for you. But it is this personal significance that makes music/art live forever. What can be felt by an eighty and twenty year old simultaneously.
Today we want everything to be instantaneous. Nobody wants to live with something, we just want to feel it then and there. We don’t appreciate the patience and skill that crafted the art
we want to understand at once. If the highlife concert taught me anything, it was that music (good music) is not instant but is like a force locked in cage, waiting for YOU to unlock and take over you.
These are just my thoughts upon being obliterated by bomb triggered before my age.
I have been retreating into depths I am not mentally prepared for. The chest is constantly heavy with weight and Bossa Nova is not soothing enough. I have quit complaining and chosen to adapt.
Is the king really in charge? Or is this the people who put him there who are? Does he feel that he should lead because he sits in the skin. Or that he feel the need to cos just because he has to, he feels the need to achieve. He is hungry for more, and he must outdo himself to get this.
Then what next? How does he choose which path to walk? Which fruit will satisfy him most?
Heavy is the head. My train of thought has cut through the mountains
And is crushing the forest,
Speeding towards to the coast
The tracks are wrapped in unfamiliar grey anthills
And I cannot see the lines
Just the beach
Do I stop study
Or charge through steady.
Mansa dances in sinking sand
Trying to catch the Sun.