ALBUM REVIEW OF “PHOTO SENTENCES" BY MUTOMBO DA POET
This is an album review of “Photo Sentences” by Mutombo Da Poet, Ghana’s foremost spoken word artiste. The 13 track album is produced by Pidgen Music and features production from such eclectic and eccentric as Kweku Ananse, DJ Jules, Kwam1, SeVen and Wanlov.
· TALKING DRUM (2:05 mins): As the title reveals, the piece is punctured by heavy conga drums. It is an introduction to the album. Talking Drum basically tickles and affords the listener with what to expect from the album.
· CHANGES (3:50 mins): The track carries a political theme highlighting how political heads have literally taken the masses for granted whiles they enrich themselves and that of their cohorts. For he says “they owe all things; sophisticated automobiles right down to your TV screens”
The track also touches on the poverty situation and the challenges the ordinary Ghanaian faces, albeit hoping for a better day when he says “all our struggles have been rewarded with coins”. We are yet to handle the paper”.
The beat accompany this piece will make every hip hop MC and fan(s) bump his/her head unceasingly.
· UNBORN TALKS (4:20 mins): Here, Mutombo takes a Pro-Life stance; becomes the mouthpiece of unborn babies and pleads with the “his” mother not to abort him for he has dreams and wishes for her. Lines like “When you dress, I’ll be responsible for your elegance” and “Don’t be shy to flaunt your belly for it stores life unlike men with pot-bellies” will melt away all hate a mother does harbor for her foetus. If a lady wishes to commit an abortion, kindly let her listen to this track first.
The energy in his voice is cascading: something between a plea and desperation to survive.
Unborn Talks is a perfect theme song for health advocacy campaign on pro-life. PPAG & Marie Stopes take a listen.
· SWEET MEMORIES (4: 10 mins): One gripping thing about Sweet Memories-the lead single of this album- is its opening. The Yaa Amponsaa strings and its laid-back nature exudes a warm feeling and a sense of “Ghanaian-ness”.
The song recounts with nostalgia the experiences of growing up in the ‘hoods’ touching on the fun boys had whiles in these areas including the rare opportunity of eating chicken only on festive occasions like X’mas.
It samples one of Alhaji K. Frimpong’s beats. To all “dada bees” that were raised/being raised in estates or posh areas and missed/missing out on the fun of yester- years, Mutombo provides an omnibus, so take a listen and swim in the moments.
· TEN REGIONS (4:50 mins): Takes listeners on a tour of the ten regions of Ghana touching on her beauty (tourism potentials) and the uniqueness of her people. Perfect for a for Tourism campaign.
· MY THOUGHTS (3:40 mins): This is another grumbling of a man who is watching the ever-changing world we live in. The theme touches on the changes in the world-capitalism, religion, climate change and modernity. The opening words of this piece-“My good people, you have to see what this mouth is about to paint. So vacuum your iris to give you clearer pupils”-keeps one expectant.
· PADDIES (3:20 mins): If you are oblivious of the various friends we have in this world, then listen to Paddies. The piece distinguishes between the traits of “real” friends and “fair weather” friends. A line like “We are on the same road to success but our pace might be different” should inform you that not all your friends will be happy about your progress. The axiom “by their fruits we shall know them” fits this piece.
· PARADE (4:45 mins): Is a revolutionary anthem for “conscious nationalist” who wish to see a transformation in the nation’s progress. The passion as well as the trace of frustration in Mutombo’s delivery is agonizingly present. Parade and Changes play on similar themes.
· INTERNAL MIGRATION (3:15 mins): The beats accompanying the delivery has a jazzy tone with a subtle and beautiful hook. The piece touches on the north-south disparity; the leading cause of the phenomena of ‘northerners’ emigrating to the south in search of good fortunes.
Internal Migration also talks about the hardship they face and how haphazard the live-usually in shacks or on the street. It provokes in the listener a sense of compassion for these ‘immigrants’.
· NATIVES TO SLAVES (3:10 mins): The title easily gives the contents of the piece away. The track is about slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. The beat is laced with a dirge hum and carries a scary ending. He speaks of how valueless blacks were. “Blacks were cheap. Inflation couldn’t affect the price of this commodity”.
At the end of his delivery, Mutombo leaves us with food for thought when he opines “Now they’ve returned. It’s your turn’’!!(Neo-colonialism).
Mutombo’s passion can be felt in this piece.
· KICKING BUCKETS (3:12 mins): The track is elegantly pieced together, from the beats to delivery, though the song is about death. It opens with a woman singing an Akan (Ashanti) requiem. It narrates the fond memories people have of the dead and admonishes all to celebrate or enjoy life as and when they have it. “Death is just mean like a frown and someone always dies when it comes around’’ sums the piece up.
What Kicking Buckets lacks is that sense of somberness, in terms of voice presentation. Mutombo could have made his voice a bit raspier or to exude a feeling of hurt, since he was talking about death. Similarly, he could have punctuated the beats with a series of sniffs, like someone holding back his/her tears.
· VIBES (4:20 mins): It’s an ordinary track. Less challenging since it was within his “comfort” zone. A love piece in which Mutombo is heard praising the virtues of a woman.
The beat sampled the hook “Take My Hand” by UB40.
· X-RAY: Mutombo gives meaning to the dictum “the best are kept for last” with this track. Everything about it is classy-from the beat arrangements, the hook, voice of Mutombo and Lady Jay and the words all come together neatly to boost the song’s character.
X-Ray reveals the frustrations of a young man who is trying to win the heart of a lady he admires; a phase every young man has either gone or will go through at a stage in his life.
His opening line “Look past my physique’ is loaded with meaning, admonishing ladies to look at the potential of guy(s) rather than what he has/have.
Lady Jay’s voice on the chorus is unreservedly mesmerizing, molten and alluring and compliments the track awesomely. She simple adds luster to the track. The line “If my heart was a female and had passion, it would have been missionary” expresses the depth of love he has for the girl.
Again, the monologue ending the piece which seeks to appeal to the lady’s conscience is very persuasive and honest. The sigh that opens the monologue sums up the hustle he’s been through.
STAR RATING: 3.8/5
In all, Mutombo’s attempt at bringing spoken word out of the “side street” to the “main street” is commendable and need to be applauded. Photo Sentences is not your listen-and put away kind of work. The quality-from production to content-was given top-most attention.
Each track on Photo Sentences (themes) is tangible and relevant as it addresses issues of our time. That is, everyday issues that confronts us both on individual and societal basis. Sweet memories, X-Ray, Changes, Native to Slaves and Kicking Buckets stand out on this album.
Click the bandcamp link to the album www.htt;//t.co/6138Xig
I hope other Spoken Word artiste will take a cue and record their works into an album.
Photo Sentences is worth than many albums we have on the market, in terms of content (messages), production and variety (style).
Copies are available at Sytrix Bookshop, Osu, opposite Papaye, TM Lewn , Accra Mall and soon at Silver Bird Stores, Accra Mall.
Go grab a copy of these amazing, exhilarating pieces of raw form of poetry-Spoken Word.
Photo Sentences: painting imagery with words!!
The album launch is in three weeks time. Keep your ears to the ground.