by michael eli dokosi/www.blakkpepper.com/ghana
On September 2, reggae man and radio presenter Abubakar Ahmed better known as Blakk Rasta offered his latest album; ‘Timbuktu By Road.’
Before an invited audience composed mostly of journalists and other media practitioners at the Alisa Hotel, the man who holds a degree in Land Economy and another degree introduced the audience to his songs on the 32 track album.
According to the dub poet, it took 4 years to put the album together adding 50 songs were pruned down to 32.
The PhD student submitted the album title derived its name from the Timbuktu University in Mali which he described as the first university in the world.
The originator of ‘Kuchoko’ music, a brand of reggae which Africanizes the music zoomed straight into the first track on the album ‘Dumb Trump’. The song touched on President Donald Trump’s mantra of making ‘America Great Again’ which Blakk Rasta found to be tasteless given the violent history of the country against melanated people. This track featured Ras Boumba.
On ‘Kofi Annan‘, the second track, Rasta touched on the former United Nation Secretary General’s call to the Ghanaian leadership to decriminalize marijuana use. He also recalled a similar call he made about stopping the jailing of folks who use the herb and advocating use of marijuana for many other purposes which led to him being hauled before parliament’s Privileges Committee.
‘Ashei Lala’ follows on the rank; ‘Dagbani’ for is that how the world is’. Blakk notes this song was poured out from his core upon losing his wife in 2012 noting “it looked like the world was coming to an end.” Those close to him bear witness to the sense of loss the often confident music man felt on the loss of Sakina Ahmed. The tune was recorded live and features drums heavily.
‘Robert Mugabe’ initially done when the later Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe turned 92, Blakk Rasta upon being a guest of the fallen statesman was commissioned to rework the tune for his 93rd birthday but the strong man was overthrown two months later so couldn’t present the song to him. Blakk submitted when he visited the country, it soon became clear to him, the picture of Zimbabwe as a backward impoverished state in the western media was false noting Mugabe treated him and his team very warmly.
On ‘Racists in Uniform’, Blakk tackles the unacceptable incidences of racists police people under the cover of their uniforms shooting unarmed Black men and women dead with no or little consequence.
On ‘Mama Adeline Sings’, Rasta recalls while recording a song at Zapp Mallet’s studio, needed to incorporate a childhood folk song sang to him countless times, but when he couldn’t get the melody right, asked his mum via phone to sing it out, thankfully he recorded her singing as two weeks later, he got a call his mother had passed on. It turned out her singing was the last communication they had.
‘Mma Chebsi Ma’ follows then ‘Sambisa Forest’ which the Chibok girls from Nigeria were taken to by raiders. He calls for their safe return, warning there is judgment for all.
‘Jangbari-Zo’, done in Dagbani talks about rat-like friends taking advantage of one’s generosity.
‘On Tears Keep Falling’ ft. Ted I, Blakk submits the song was originally done in August 1974 by a Ghanaian based in England by name Teddy Davies who many assumed was a Jamaican as the tune was rendered in English and some Patois. He stated the song has been sampled by greats such as UB40 and Judy Boucher. Although it’s been 45 years since the song was done, Blakk tracked the original owner down and recorded a new rendition with him. The song centers around a man who is losing his lady-love to another man prompting the tears to roll.
Offering another dirge ‘Bye Bye Kimono’, Blakk Rasta notes that he loved fallen Nigerian reggae star Ras Kimono so dearly observing he was an extremely conscious man. “He mentored me,” he stated. Blakk Rasta notes that Kimono’s death was painful especially when he had dreamt of his passing and called him to share his discovery. Kimono died weeks after his 60th birthday.
At number 12, is the emotional tune ‘Agyankaba’; a tune which went viral when released as a single ahead of the album. On it, Blakk Rasta breathed life into an old highlife tune urging people to treat orphans right.
‘Jameela’, written while Blakk was in Florida during winter talks of the damsel he desires who could twerk, bend and skillfully handle him yet was a chronic cheat and prevaricating liar.
‘On Tuo Zaafi’ ft. Dave Azi the favourite meal of northern origins involving steamed millet flour paired with green leaves and tomatoes sauce is well celebrated in the Hausa language.
‘Jangbari-Zo’, and tears ‘Tears Keep Falling’ extended, round up the first 16 tracks of the 32 album.
Zooming into the other 16 tracks, ‘Nubian Woman’ opens things up nicely, where Blakk celebrates the endowments of the Nubian damsel whose behinds are a delight to watch.
Employing Adowa rhythms and reggae, Blakk Rasta emerged with ‘Emefa’, proclaiming his love for the damsel from Ghana’s Volta region.
On ‘Dede’, another pro dance tune, one hears Fati’s name pronounced several times while ‘Shifu’ ft. Maolin Zheng enters the Asiatic zone with Blakk stating imagine falling in love with a Chinese. Done in the pop vein, Ms. Zheng offers crisp singing while Blakk is his jovial self.
On ‘Hajia’, the fifth song, Blakk implores Hajia to come to him utilizing the Hausa language.
‘Saadia’, is African Dance Music (ADM) employing occasional wailing sounds while warning not to harm the hand that feeds. Inspiration for the tune emerged when Ebony sought bailout from NAM 1, who himself has fallen on hard times.
‘Big Daddy’, done in the dancehall vein, is a boast song which is allowed occasionally to assert one’s supremacy.
‘Chagsi Kalanga’ follows then ‘Taakama’ and ‘Holy Spirit Take-Over’ which sees Blakk entering the charismatic lane charging the Holy Spirit to come bless and heal him as well as take-over. He renders there’s is no God as his.
On the ‘Holy Ghost Party’, Blakk states the fire is burning “here, there and everywhere.” Falling on a regular church song, Blakk is sure to have a good number of Christians groove to this tune. Tune is aided by smooth singing from the background singer. With this tune and others, Blakk shows he is unafraid of experimenting, a trait lacking in other musicians.
With ‘Lagos Boyz’, Blakk Rasta is full of praise for the Lagos people and their way of life as well as style and fashion. It features Knii Lante.
At number 14 is ‘Mus Mus Tail’ followed by ‘Wedding Day’ and rounded up with ‘Obama Dey.’
“This is my best album so far,” Blakk Rasta told media men after running through the 32 songs that the album will be launched in March where he will perform the 32 tracks.
“I have self-produced my albums since year 2000,” he also revealed urging folks to buy the album which employed Afrobeat, reggae and dancehall elements and available on the digital stores.