Ko-jo Cue is one of Ghana’s fastest rising hip-hop acts, steadily perfecting his game and earning his stripes. Mixtapes the Bantama rapper has released over the years include N.A.T.H.A.N, N.O.N.A, The Wait, 4Play and Before We Shine 1&2. It has been an onslaught across a span of over half a decade, a slew of mixtapes has not only earned Ko-jo the deserving recognition and respect in hip hop circles, but also a record deal with BBnZ.
The Shining is his first major project under the BBnZ imprint and was released late 2014. The tape spots a stellar line-up of features, a fine balance of promising acts such as Klu, Eli, Trebla and Blackway; along with household names M.anifest, Mensa and label comrade E.L. Production credits go to Yaw Dan, Yung Fly, Alberto, Bedi, Mike Millz, Kuvie, Senyo Cue, Jnr, DJ Juls and DJ Abui.
The Shining opens with A Ghetto story, produced by Alberto. “The theme song of the rise of a ghetto kid, pay attention just look at what the ghetto did.” Ko-jo raps about coming from the bottom being told he can never be great, and how he triumphs over all adversities. The song ends with a famous Game of Thrones quote, a snippet of Tyrion Lannister (the infamous dwarf) counselling Jon Snow to never forget who he is (a bastard), to wear it as an armour so that it can never be used to hurt him. In typical ‘victory song’ fashion, this joint is an epic. Alberto’s production coupled with the choral backing of the hook and snippet gives the song a larger-than-life feel.
Ko-jo Cue is one of the few rappers on the scene who doesn’t fall strictly under neither Twi nor English labels. This is largely due to his impeccable lyrical ability in both languages. He switches between the two languages so often and so well, you might eventually fail to take note of the exact language he’s rapping in. On Kudi however, he goes in hard with an unadulterated Twi flow. Kudi is a street anthem which essentially tells us to keep grinding for that paper. Production credit on this tune goes to DJ Abui.
Esi Araba is your typical Ghanaian love song (with the name of the love-interest being the song title and all). Ko-jo Cue professes his love for Esi Araba over a laid- back instrumental with some heavy jazz and highlife influences as produced by Senyo Cue. This joint features Mensa whose soulful voice matched the vibe of the tune perfectly. His delivery reminded me a lot of his own hit single Fante Love Song.
The commercially successful Lowkey was the first single off the tape. Ko-jo Cue’s effort on this joint was complemented by a catchy hook from Klu, a dope guest verse from E.L, and Kuvie’s mastery in producing the grooviest of instrumentals. It almost seems this joint was specifically designed in a lab for radio rotation!
Ko-jo Cue goes by a number of monikers, P.L.K (Punch Line King) and quite recently Oseikrom President. The alias I initially found rather curious for a rapper was Y.D.L (Young Daddy Lumba), which happens to be the title of the 9th joint on the tape. Young Daddy Lumba is more or less an ode to the legendary highlife musician. Daddy Lumba is undoubtedly the most prolific musician in Ghanaian music history spawning a catalogue of over 25 hit albums across a period of 30 years. I think Ko-jo Cue is trying to establish that he is to hip hop what Daddy Lumba is to contemporary highlife music. The song samples a Daddy Lumba classic, Mensei Da and was produced by DJ Juls.
The Shining is a stroke of genius, a 15 track masterpiece. Ko-jo Cue packs in this mixtape what most rappers would in an album. His star unquestionably shone brightest on the tape despite the impressive line-up of featured artistes. The Shining promises to set Ko-jo Cue on the path of making that crucial transition from the obscurities of a mixtape artiste, to a power house mainstream artiste to be reckoned with.
Compiled by Philip Edusei