This article was published on Loud Sound Ghana (https://loudsoundgh.com/2014/10/review-of-ko-jo-cues-the-shining-mixtape-by-joseph-aqweci-ofori/)
It was a usual busy Monday when the PunchLine King, Ko-Jo Cue dropped his latest mixtape “The Shining”. Both old and new fans of the latest BBnZ signee had been impatiently waiting on this tape. From his first ever project, “NATHAN”, Linford “Ko-Jo Cue” Amankwaa has been keeping fans in suspense of The Shining. Now that it’s finally here I take the stage to delve into the music, song after song.
|The Shining cover art|
As the title may sound, most people, including me thought Ko-Jo would’ve played rough by compiling commercial songs to widen his fan base in enabling him to blow up easily. Conversely, he held on to his words on “Retrospect”(a song that he released in 2010 as part of his early projects) by giving us a classic hip hop project full of storytelling, relatable concepts, motivation, inspiration, and as you’d expect great metaphors and punchlines. The mixtape has 15 classic songs on it, so not to beat about the bush so the game doesn’t escape let’s head straight to the individual tracks.
01. A Ghetto Story (Prod. By Alberto)
‘Success Story’ opened the curtain on ‘Before We Shine 2’, this time around we hear a story of the ghetto. In life, not so many people are raised from rich homes. Most of us are born and raised in deprived vicinities, then we find a way to make it. Whether rich or poor, the point is making it in the end. You remember when your mum told you not to play with rich kids cos you can’t relate to them? Yup! Ko-Jo bluntly talks about it. The struggle to get a silver spoon in your mouth when you weren’t born with one is what a ghetto story portrays… Lines like “Kwaku me nim original oh, na ne boɔ” and “yɛnni teee but ohia nka yɛn vibe nhyɛ” are unheard voices of the ghetto. The message is that even if you’re a ghetto kid there’s a way to can make it so force and focus, and you’ll be a success story.
02. Champion (Prod. By Bedi)
The conception that one shouldn’t blow his own horns is kind of lame to me, cos people won’t do it, and even if they do, usually they still hate on you. Ko-Jo brags on this piece with all confidence claiming his throne as the champion. When the punchline king gets into his element, you know it’s all about bars!! “Moves dope like the sopranos, me ntee wo bass”… “Before he spit it, he go start cough. Sick with it, the boy is gifted and he dey rap (wrap) ruff”… “I be’s clever, chaow flows cos sea never, dries, ain’t nobody heard or seen better”. These lines are deeper than you see them fam. Does Ko-Jo need a dying king to crown him the champion? Well, I’m sure this king will leave the throne behind in running for his life. LOL.
03. Kudi (Prod. By DJ Abui)
A man with money(kudi) in his pocket is a happy one. People get money both legally and illegally, cos it keeps the world moving. Riding on a bouncy beat by DJ Abui, Ko-Jo raps about how the masses grind for and cherish money. This song is a powerful tune that can move a crowd anytime of the day… the hook, “ka wo kudi”, is something we’re already familiar with, and the lyrics sum up every aspect of the money topic. In fact, I tip off this track to be a massive hit!
04. Esi Araba (Ft. M3nsa) (Prod. By Senyo Cue)
When God created Adam, he realised it’s not good for a man to be alone, hence he made a woman for him. This song perfectly describes the love men have for their fiancées. M3nsa lay a silky fante hook on Senyo’s classical instrumental. Senyo actually surprised me with this highlife jazzy beat. Ko-Jo carefully puts sweet words together in a fine tone in this conversation with his love, Esi Araba. We don’t usually hear such earthly, local and sweet love songs.
05. Airmail (Interlude) (Prod. By Yung Fly)
Not to hide anything, this is undoubtedly one of my favorites on the tape. Being a story most Ghanaian youth can relate to, Ko-Jo writes a letter to his friend Trebla who is in London, telling him how hard he is fending here in Ghana. He also adds, Blurr and Peewee who are all peers have impregnated a girl and being smoking a lot, respectively. Trebla debunks perceptions that it’s easier to make it at abroad, advices Blurr not to abort the unborn child and Peewee to quit smoking, and attaches £100 to the letter. Happily receiving it, Ko-Jo gives a positive feedback of Blurr accepting the advice and Peewee getting born again to the extent of starting a church. Don’t pay attention to the parenthetical song title. It’s a masterpiece with a perfect sample.
06. RedRuM (Prod. By Yung Fly)
This song stands as the most lyrical tune on the tape and goes further to being one of the hottest lyrically dope songs in the GH rap scene. Filled with unusual metaphors which awakens dead rappers, the PLK spits fire on Yung Fly’s exceptionally amazing beat. He raps “King David with swag and a sling, leaving holes in giants when I swing, who be Goliath, make e back down”… “moves dope like I travel with snow”… “I'm sick as the syphillis that was killing Al Capone”, etc. Outstandingly, ‘RedRuM’ has the ‘baddest’ flow on the entire tape.
07. Lowkey (Ft. E.L & Klu) (Prod. By Kuvie)
Released as the only single before the whole project dropped, it still remains one of my favorites. I salute Kuvie for producing such an addictive instrumental. Klu, well known for his singing ability gave the song the perfect touch/hook that it deserved. Ko-Jo starts with “Chale we son/sun em and put em up in day care” and EL lays the 2nd verse dropping an untouchable line, “My G’s move in silence in this campaign”. As the title goes, the song lowkey has a lot of metaphorical lines.
08. Pretty, Please (Ft. Blackway) (Prod. By Mike Millz)
Ko-Jo gets in his ‘booze’ element and under the influence messes around with loose women. Blackway joins him with his timeless flow and flair. Again, a tight production by Mike Millz.
09. Young Daddy Lumba (Prod. By DJ Juls)
In various interviews, Ko-Jo has tipped that his favourite musician is DL. This particular song is one which you may have to search for annotations on RapGenius. He playfully drops subtle lines to make you ‘scratch your cerebrum’ in order to understand. I’m not quoting any bars off it, some lines sound better when you hear and decipher them as you vibe along. As intellect as DL is, Ko-Jo surely is the modern Charles Kwadwo Fosu.
10. Closure (Interlude) (Prod. By Jnr)
Surprisingly, the interludes on this tape are out of this world. Before I even get into the verses, let me take time to give daps to Jnr for such a spirit-rising instrumental. It’s quite a coincidence I have the same experience of the closure story. In life, you may find yourself with a lady which signs show the relationship is not gonna work out, but you still find yourself in it, then later split up with heartbreaks. I really like the way Ko-Jo laid the flow on this song, rhythmically smooth and picture-painting verses.
11. Bantama Blues 1 & 2 (Prod. By Yaw Dan & Yung Fly)
First time listening to this blues, it hit me that Ko-Jo was influenced by his first love. He got his Drake on and went in so deep on this one. Carefully selecting appealing words to his love, K.O Dash caresses the lucky girl, and hints that he can wholeheartedly wipe the traces of the damage caused by her ex.
On Bantama Blues 2, he complains about his roots Bantama not recognizing him. Even in the Bible, Jesus wasn’t accepted by the Jews. Ko-Jo exclaims the guys that he played with during his childhood have now abandoned him cos they think he has become arrogant, due to his musical career. It hurts Ko-Jo cos he has never stopped reppin’ Bantama, and this is how they pay him back. I feel for him, hence artists from Kumasi disguise themselves as Accra residents once they blow up, but exceptionally, he has always waved the flag of Bantama.
12. Odeeshii (Prod. By DJ Abui)
This right here is a jam! An aggressive Ko-Jo scares all rappers and keeps them shaking in their booths. A song that’ll make your favourite rapper rewrite his best bars. A lot of double entendres and punchlines in ‘Odeeshii’. If you watched the trailer, I inform you this is the track that made Cabum shout “abɔ dam hyɛ shoe!”.
13. Ewiase (Ft. Eli) (Prod. By Yung Fly)
“Ewiase” is one of the realest songs on the mixtape. Among the situations discussed on this track I’m sure you’ll relate to at least one of them. Probably, you have heard issues of how cold people can be. Ko-Jo summarizes wicked acts of the world (ewiase) on this piece. I personally like how Ko-Jo laid it out one-by-one with Eli’s perfect bridge, cos there are songs that our grandparents will love to hear, and “Ewiase” is one of them.
14. Burger Highlife (Ft. M.anifest) (Prod. By Enigma)
I believe everyone has an addiction, being it a person, an act or anything else. With help from M.anifest, Ko-Jo addresses the issue of addiction. Verse 1 talks about dudes who get high and sober to ‘stay alive’. The next verse talks about ‘twitter gbeys’ who make the lives of celebrities uncomfortable cos these cool kids slander them in 140 characters just to stay relevant. M Dot adds his voice, including tickling puns in his verse. As the title suggests, the bass is heavenly. Conclusively, Enigma’s instrumental is a classic!
15. Gold (Prod. By Alberto)
Finally we’re here. Ko-Jo draws the curtain on the project with “Gold” which is the shortest song on “The Shining”. He talks about other artists refusing to touch on various aspects of life and him trying to reach gold(the prime price).
Among all 8 mixtapes of the rapper, this is his best project ever. The growing pains as Ko-Jo likes to call it has now been treated. “The Shining” represents various years of maturity and development of talent. Good music it is!!!