Nigerian singer Runtown's voice was first impressed upon Ghanaian ears back in 2015. The song was 'Gallardo'; it featured Davido. The latter, because of what impact his 'Dami Duro' had on the streets of Ghana, was by now not merely a visitor, but a family friend.
His hyperactive demeanour, and the permanently wearied tone of his voice, were now fine to us. His sound, like many of his colleagues, was popular in Accra. So while 'Gallardo' was a glorious club classic by Runtown, Davido's contribution was added validation.
Produced by Ayodele Basel (known in Nigerian music circles as Del B, producer of such songs as KCee's 'Limpopo' and Wizkid's 'On Top Your Matter') 'Mad Over You' arrives wrapped in pukka West African warmth with a piano/whistle-y note and the familiar highlife percussion timing—all of which yields to replays.
The song is dedicated to the Ghanaian woman, ultimately. Now, there may be commercial intentions there—for an artist trying to make a living, that's just fair—but more than that, Runtown may be trying to connect with that liberal vibe of Ghana, if only because Ghana''s vibe is the gateway to all things afrobeats.
Local Ghanaian references pepper Mad Over You—not "chale", which has all but lost its essence as a result of overuse—but words like waakye (a loved staple made from rice and beans, garnished with spaghetti, tomato stew, gari, and an assortment of proteins), and shitor (pepper sauce which tops the meal).
Ghanaian food has always been accessible to the wider world, but have lately been enhanced afresh by Ghana-based and Nigerian-born Mr. Eazi, who came under a hurricane of verbal attacks for this observation of the Ghanaian groove in the "Naija sound". That controversy will take care of itself. On 'Mad Over You', these are the first lines:
It is fair to ask why Runtown opts for waakye, and not jollof, in the song, even though jollof is the most sacred of all Ghanaian delicacies. The reason is simple: While both Nigeria and Ghana claim to be better custodians of a meal which originated from Senegambia, there's absolutely no debate about who owns waakye, which is loved (well, not quite in equal measure as jollof, but loved nonetheless) on the subregion. Runtown's song is a tribute to Ghana, and he's not looking to be ambiguous in his praise.
Again, it might be a conscious effort to insulate himself from having to participate in the jollof wars. I may be wrong, but this, I believe, was arrived at as a result of painstaking thought while on relatively low alcohol levels. It has worked. In just over a month on YouTube the video has been seen almost 5 million times.
'Mad Over You' will be remembered fondly decades from now because of the sheer majesty of its swing—especially in the heart of the young Ghanaian woman, who can recite the song line for line without having actively committed Runtown's words to memory.
A version of this piece was published on eNewsGH