Artiste: Yaa Pono
Producer: Dr Ray
Author of Review: Kwame Dadzie
Preamble: All of a sudden there seems to be whiff of Burger Highlife pervading the music space.
First, it was Lord Paper putting together a remake of a Lumba classic, together with Bosom Pyung, for his jam ‘Asabone,’ the KiDi came out with ‘Next Time I See You’ on his ‘Blue’ EP. Now, Yaa Pono has done the unthinkable; drifting from his usual rap to singing a Burger Highlife song.
Instrumentation: This is a typical Burger Highlife jam, reminiscent of the type of music which was in vogue in the ’80s and the ’90s. Burger highlife is a fusion of the popular rock/pop music and highlife. Typical of its features are heavy kicks, the use of rock and electric guitar syncopations. It earned its name ‘Burger’ because it was a fad that was established in the Ghanaian music industry by Ghanaian musicians who had travelled to Germany. They were the German Burgers who had had influence from pop music. George Darko, Leo Duodu, Charles Amoah, Rex Gyamfi, and the others plied this trade.
Production: The song was produced by Dr. Ray, one of Ghana’s finest producers. Even though it is a fairly good production and a departure from the current trends, one could feel some ‘holes’ in the instrumentation as compared to the Burger Highlife pieces of old. It sounds lighter. Maybe, it is was intentional, maybe that was Dr Ray’s Burger Highlife signature, maybe it was just a weak attempt to go back to the one-time beloved groove of the ‘Burgers’.
Vocal Delivery: Yaa Pono is not a typical singer, but delivering in Key D Major, he serenaded with his cool voice. The key choice was apt for his style and vocal ability. A higher or lower key may have posed a challenge to him. He would either have strained or drowned in his notes.
Content Analysis of lyrics: The song is themed in the hope of regaining lost glory. Using wealth as an example, he sings about the worth of money and assures that even if one’s financial fortunes dwindle, there is hope to reclaim their possessions.
The didactic orientation of the song is when he advises those who are lucky to have money not to disrespect other people because of their financial status.
There are a lot of affluent people who have lost their riches due to different life situations and misfortunes. Some have committed suicide or given up on life but this is a sort of inspirational piece to strengthen those who think all there cannot be any better life for them again.
I admire the succinctness of the message and the arrangements of the verses. It is so easy to grasp and groove along.
Complete dub: When I first heard the song, I posted on my Facebook timeline that it was derived from a Daddy Lumba song that readily comes to mind is Anadwo Yi (‘Mafe Odo’).
In fact, the chorus of that song bears 90% likeness to the chorus of Ponobiom’s ‘1997’.
It was actually done in the same key (D Major) as Lumba’s and had the same chord progression! But for the difference in tempo.
Just when the discussion was ongoing I was prompted by other people that the same ‘1957’ song sounds like a sample of Daddy Lumba’s ‘Yenni Nse’. Truly, I listened and they have very striking similarities too. They have similar melodies, the same tempo, and progression – just that that ‘Yenni Nse’ is in E Flat Major.
What is surprising, however, is the fact that Dr Ray, the producer says he did not take any inspiration at all from either of the two Lumba songs but rather from Lumba’s Aben Waha and another song by Nana Acheampong.
What is wrong with sampling? There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other people’s songs but it is unacceptable to not give credit where credit is due.
Daddy Lumba can sue Ponobiom for copyright infringement for dubbing his melodies for his song for not seeking his consent and not giving him credit.