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[REVIEW] KWESI ARTHUR'S LIVE FROM NKRUMAHKROM EP IS A 16 MINUTES 4 SECONDS ACCOUNT OF HOPE, DESPAIR, TEMPTATION, FREEDOM AND TRIUMPH


From shirtless freestyle videos on twitter, Kwesi Arthur managed to make a very massive transition from a young not-too-known local artiste to a continental sensation with an international status. Already, there is a school of thought that perceived his astronomical progress in the music industry as a feat he was not too ready for – linking that to his miss out on that BET Viewer’s choice nomination.


However, the majority of Ghanaian music fans, industry gurus and colleague musicians think otherwise. To the fans, Kwesi Arthur is a Samaritan who keeps telling their stories and amplifying their voices; To the industry insiders, he is that torch from Ghana that shines on Africa, to his colleague musicians, he is that story every underground artiste wishes to narrate as his.

In actual fact, all these accolades must have a start, all these jet speed goodies must have a source and that could easily be linked back to a story he told back in 2017. A 16 minutes 4 seconds story about hope, despair, temptation, freedom and triumph; very organized and packaged into what will go on to be his debut EP: Live from Nkrumahkrom (LFNK).

This is not only a review of Kwesi Arthur’s Live From Nkrumah Krom EP, but a personal and imaginary experience gathered from the EP after listening, which we term as impression. The Ep is further assessed based on its content, production and post production.

The 5-track EP is enriched with well-tailored concepts for every Ghanaian millennial with an ambition, like Kwesi Arthur (himself), we may be miles apart from each other but we are connected by the same struggle.

Impression
The first song off the EP –Ade Akye and thus the first story told by Kwesi - starts with a question: ‘what is the price of life when you aint got shit? and right there Kwesi brilliantly captures his audience. (Keen to find the answer, I paused and went hunting for ear pods).
As a good story teller he is, he narrates a short story about a richer friend who went from riches to rags; a story he will juxtapose with his personal experience on the quest to make it out of the hustle. In this song, Kwesi Arthur who plays the character of Jacob’s son in the bible, maintains a strong conviction about making it. He urges his audience to never let go of the hope, with the line: Awia w) wie mu de3, I go shine which translates into: As long as the sun keeps rising, I will shine.

There and then, the hope story ends, ideally we would have to go for a quick refreshing break, but who needs a refresh from a break when you are getting it right from the story being told. On we go.

 Now we have hope, what next?

Hope is a commodity one is very likely to lose, when the ugliness of despair and strife resurfaces. Back on the wall; second track off the LFNK EP, is a story of faux loyalty; how friends turn on you when things change. Young Kwesi Arthur who was hopeful about life just some 2 minutes 35 seconds ago, now has his back against the wall. As the son of Jacob, what does he do next? He turns to God saying ‘On my knees praying for blessings, God I know you see the grind’.

By far, we know in this story that kwesi Arthur is struggling but he still keeps the hope, even in critical circumstances where friends and acquaintances are not supportive. Now Kwesi is obviously distressed, the patience is almost running out. In the next song he sadly starts by saying: Is this lesson, Oh my God, or e be destiny – show me a sign.

We all thought faux-loyalty and fake friends was the only problem on Kwesi Arthur’s plate, but in the third song – Devil Knocking, he reveals another one we are all familiar with but uncomfortable to talk about – Temptation. More like our innate devils that continually take our minds off the focus, by filling us with the rush for pleasures and unwanted intricacies. At this point Kwesi Arthur has devils knocking on his door with cash he may never see in his life, with pretty women he might never stand a chance of even looking them in the eyes all ready to be his and his for good, if he just gives in. He boldly asks ‘I’ve been down so long, will my blessings come, my God? He didn’t tell us this, but we were convinced that, at this point he had started treating the devils’ cash and women as an option worth going for.


What will Kwesi do?
Fortunately, he turns up the radio and Otabil is preaching, once again Kwesi is reminded, this time by his mum’s words: Go to church, cos Yesu p3 he go save. Fulfilled by his mother’s words, Kwesi at this point knew, he had to keep the faith and the hustle in a perfect Ying-Yang balance. His mother’s words meant a lot to him, his spirit got renewed, and his strength restored, he knew he had to kill his demons in order to make it in his career.

That takes us to our next story, an account of how Kwesi Arthur gained utter freedom from his devils/demons. Now I had gone almost 11 minutes into the by fireside session with Kwesi Arthur, and was all eager to know how he slashed the throats of the devils knocking on his door, especially the one with the cash. At this point he insisted on a break, but I was in dire thirst for that battle strategy, he had to give in to my plea.

Kwesi really needed the freedom, he had to turn his poor background story around, he had to save his future today, so a win against his demons will not just be a win, but a crucial element of his survival.

The first thing Kwesi Arthur did, as the son of Jacob in this battle against his demons, was to acknowledge the efforts of God thus far; appreciation. He starts by saying, I am not supposed to be here, anka sesei me y3 note3, I’m supposed to be dead. Kwesi acknowledges here, that he has being saved from a death trap awaiting him behind his door, if he had let in the devils. The second thing he did was to keep the focus very sharp and rule out all unnecessary activities that sets him behind of himself - ‘People want turn up, focus on the vision’, and the vision was to be bigger than the Beatles, he revealed in one of his shirtless freestyles with Sarkodie and Raphenzee.

In this last but one song, titled free, Kwesi expresses how empty cooking pots and pockets and being pressured as the first son of his parents, helped him to make some decisions. He cut chasing girls and idling about with the hommies out of the equation and resorted to activities in and out of the studio that added to his craft.

That must be a hard thing to do, for a young kid from Tema, who could have had a fair share of all the expensive sneakers and KFC moments. Yes that’s hard, but in the end, he says best things are free, boys dey pay too much. He’d rather wait on fulfilling additions to his life than worry his head over endless lust for things he couldn’t afford.

Now you remember the devils who were knocking on Kwesi Arthur’s door, that’s how they got defeated. Free at last, free at last, thank God Kwesi Arthur is free at last. That calls for a celebration, right?

Lets take it to the last song off the EP, where the party resides.

Now more than ever, Kwesi is highly convinced of his blow up. Every day is a grind day, he sees the money coming and rather than envisioning to lavishly enrich himself, he thinks back to his background and how he owes it to himself to bring his family and all his loyalists along with him. In an interlude verse copped from Grind day, he says - ‘I think that I am Jesus, I gotta feed more than 5000, im just tryna eat, mo mma me lobster (get me a lobster), I taya plus the one man thousand (I’m tired of the herrings).

In just five songs, this is how Kwesi Arthur gave an account of his life’s story and additionally shared some secrets of his to his fans, this is the impression we got from listening to Kwesi Arthur’s debut EP: Live from NkrumahKrom.

Now let’s get to the review, where we pass the EP under an analytical scope using the C-P-P formula, thus passing highly informed judgments on the EP based on its content, production and post-production performance.

Take a listen to the Ep here


Content (10/10)
Nothing beats the relevance of the content in any song, it simply connotes to the fact that, if what you are saying in a song really matters to me, I surely will listen. And that’s what is given Kwesi Arthur a whopping but deserved 10/10 here. Nkrumah was the founder of the nation Ghana, so if you are doing something live from Ghana, you might as well portray the current environment – social, economic and what nots, in its entirety, as exactly done by Kwesi Arthur. He touched on varying concepts such as family hardships, religion, spirituality, mother-love, heavy ambitions of Ghanaian youths, societal pressures and so much more. Every Ghanaian who listens to the EP could easily go like, that’s my situation right there and to us that’s one of the numerous virtues of god content, it connects with the people.

Additionally, the orgnisation was equally done very well, the arrangement of the concepts was done meaningfully, and you could easily follow the storyline. One more thing is the artwork, that raw picture of shirtless Kwesi sitting on old stuffing chairs with his mum doing stitches. The cover arts show case the predominant concepts of family and hardship, these concepts gave birth to the recurring ones of hope, loyalty, and spirituality.

Production (7/10)
Production credits executively goes to Tema based artiste cum producer Kay So, however, productions on Ade Akye and Devil Knocking were partly scored by JayFyn And Dusha Billions. We are not very production savvy, our two cents on the Ep’s production stems from our enjoyment of the kicks, strings, loops and bops harmoniously enshrined in the respective songs.

On this Ep, one thing you could love more than Kwesi’s killer verses is KaySO’s melodic strings and keys alongside the carefully paced kicks. What we studied is that, Kwesi Arthur could be rapping fast and heavily on a particular song, but the beats behind verses remain comforting and soothing.
We also loved that live performing feel attached to some of the songs. The ending thirty seconds of Back on the wall, for instance, the song had just ended, and you could hear the cheering voice of a crowd singing aloud with Kwesi Arthur. At that moment, it feels like you are no more in your room or siting on the wall with your ear pods, but in an arena full of likeminded Kwesi Arthur loyalists, with Kwesi, shirtless on stage; absolutely a great imaginary experience.

Post production (5/10)
Throughout the brainstorming of this review, we had only one fault, and that was not even with the EP but with the activities after the release. We have no idea of any listening sessions, media runs, or tours organized to facilitate the success of the EP. Apart from Grind day which will go on to become Kwesi Arthur’s biggest hit thus far, other songs were not given much attention from the mainstream media. However, the internet did a lot of help with about 500 thousand streams on soundcloud only, grind day was almost on every souncloud user’s radar or playlist. The EP was later made available on aftown and itunes, but for lack of the streaing data, we can but only assume, it was equally good.

One main question we kept asking ourselves was ‘how can a project this good, not even score a nomination for album of the year? Then again we answered that with the unfair, unrepresentative issues and category limitations associated with the VGMA’s; Kwesi might have being a victim. Ultimately, Kwesi Arthur might not have submitted it at all. Either ways, that did a great toll on the project’s success.  

It must be clear, that, the poor post production score is understandable due to the heavy financial responsibilities required. All the same, the internet popularity and accessibility really could suffice.

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