These days Shatta Wale doesn’t need an ad-lib. His name works just fine. Soon 'Shatta Wale' will be the only words in the chorus of his next song, and it will be a hit.
“I’m overdosed with music / Super scary yeeeaaaah!”
Those first few words on Shatta Wale's 'Kakai', DJ Song of the Year at the recent Ghana DJ Awards, are both symbolic and literal truth about Shatta Wale, who also goes by the names Charles Nii Armah Mensah, or Bandana, his stage name back in 2004. He probably released about a hundred songs in 2015 and Ghana loves him even if he makes Ghanaians a little apprehensive ('Kakai' roughly means 'monster'.)
He has something to say always, which is how, last year, he released more songs than everyone else, perhaps the world over. And yet in Ghana, Shatta Wale remains Midas. If he sings it, the country likes it. But he doesn’t take his popularity for granted, and has maintained a culture of hard work. Already this year, he has released several songs. When you’ve worked so hard and come so far with your second chance at fame and success, there’s a lot you want to say. The things he says in this song, he’s said a thousand times already: he has come a long way and is still paying his dues, he’s rich and relevant, and so has to be recognised through a specific spectrum. The way he presents those thoughts on this occasion are especially theatrical and humorous:
Call me your IGP, salute me anytime, yessa massa/ call me Duncan Williams or Mensah Otabil. Hallelujah!
Like many of Shatta Wale’s songs these past few years, ‘Kakai’ was instantly popular upon release in October 2015. Already, a video of TV host Countryman Songo dancing to it on his show has gone viral, and the title is a prominent hashtag on out twitter.
The song itself is amenable to parody. For Ghanaians, replacing one or two words with ‘Mahama’ or ‘prepaid’ or ‘taxes’ or ‘Akuffo Addo’, or indeed any other two-syllable word, it can effectively be a campaign song or a protest song or anything else. And because it was released just around the time of Shatta's break-up with former manager Bulldog, it can and has been interpreted by many listeners as a diss song.
Instrumentation on 'Kakai' is minimal and straightforward. There isn’t excessive ornamentation with the beat. It is how Shatta likes his beats: raw and simple, but catchy. That said, the speed and progression of the drum kicks which complete the bars in his other 2015 song ‘Chop Kiss’ are everything but simple. They are swift and thoroughly impressive.
In these hard times, we need Shattta–esque courage to brace, or just ignore our daily circumstances: fuel prices are high, fire outbreaks are common, and the Guantanamo people from the US government are here. So if we want to, with ‘Kakai’, we can gyrate a little to forget our woes too. If, as older folks say, the younger generation has nothing to sing, then they’ll have to admit that Shatta Wale has given us timely therapy: he has given Ghana something to smile about.
First published by myershansen's blog on 2 March.