Written by: Isaac Akwasi Nyarko Jr.
With his debut album titled “For My Brothers”, five years after signing to BBnZ Live, the Oseikrom president, Ko-Jo Cue is certain he’s made his classic. Ko-Jo amazingly chooses to gift out an entire album to his brothers, when most of his colleagues are churning out predominantly commercial Afrobeat records that would resonate a lot with the sisters. Risky!
‘For My Brothers’ is a body of art inspired by the struggles of a young man on the come up in life. ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ starts our 55-minute journey on this album. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which Dad’s your Dad? Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which Dad you born a you go be?” He preaches about the far-reaching impact parents have in the lives of their children. “I know there’s a billionaire in my bloodline, I’m trying to make a million to set him up”. He proudly acclaims all hard work is to correct the errors of his dad. He raps about flipping all his losses into lessons so the generation that succeeds him can win. Inspirational!
On ‘Workaholics Anonymous’, he touches on the struggles of being a worker and/or owning a business. The bridge subtly samples Kwesi Arthur’s ‘Grind Day’ hit; Monday yeye, Tuesday yeye, Wednesday yeye, Thursday yeye, everyday yeye, grind day yeye. Of course, brothers can’t make the millions for the next generation if we don’t grind. The most striking thing on this track is the paradox and contrast from both verses. Whilst the entrepreneur wishes he was assured of a regular paycheck at the end of the month, the worker complains about delayed salaries and his superior’s attitude. The irony of life!
Having already addressed the theme of unwanted pregnancies, abortions and absentee fathers on The Shinning mixtape, Kojo heeds to the advice of Trebla; “abortion thoughts go dey come your mind, it shouldn’t be done.” (Airmail Interlude). Unfortunately, in ‘For My Brothers’, ‘Muddy Stories’ brings to Ko-Jo more misery and sorrow. Just like his other friend Blurr from ‘The Shining’, he finds himself in a situation of an unwanted fatherhood. He narrates to his son how reckless he was; “2 cedis condom a, mannhy3 nti” (all because I refused to get myself a 2-cedi worth condom). ‘Muddy stories’ is the most emotional moment on the album. Kojo tells his son why his (son’s) mum, aunties and grandmother have succeeded in keeping him (his son) away from him; “they’ll let you grow thinking I’m a dead beat”. Although he thought fathering him was going to be a blessing, he must wait till his boy turns 18 before he gets access to him. Hopefully he would be the rich dad he dreams to be when they get together in future, so he tells him his side of the story.
After 7 tracks down on the journey to millions, Ko-Jo Cue switches the theme with ‘Loser’ and ‘Dzo.’ Whether it’s with friends, an ex, or even family, cutting people off is one of the most difficult things to do. On ‘Loser’, he raps in each verse narrating a story about losing a fan, a childhood friend and an ex-girlfriend in that order. To drum home the message in this song, he craftily ends each verse saying “if I had to loose you to find me, I guess I’m such a loser”. Kojo Cue cleverly addresses a very sensitive and important topic. He preaches to his brothers about the need cut off some people when circumstances change and they no longer add value to our lives. Sad truth!
‘Dzo’ was the second single released in the run-up to final release of the album. A fan favorite and the most radio-friendly song on the album. Just like his hit songs ‘Lavender’ and ‘Tsio Benke Mi’, the Bantama representative lays soothing rap verses on a calm mid-tempo Highlife/Afrobeat instrumental. The Kumasi based record producer, iPappi once again proved he’s one of the hottest in present times. In contrast with ‘Loser,’ Worlasi brought out amazing vibes that made the break-up song sound like a go happy slow jam. Heartbroken, he cries on the song Woe na dzo (you should be going) Kabba dzo (hurry up) Woe na dzo (you should be going), time ado (time is up). Kojo complains of being less productive around her. For whatever reasons it may be, Kojo asserts he can’t Netflix and chill with her on the way to a million. It sounds more like the only good thing she brings to the table is her sex game. Worlasi is heard complaining; I no be meant for your libido. A big lesson for the brothers; the choice of a life partner cannot solely be based sex. Focus on the bigger picture!
Cue exhibits his versatility on ‘You Alone.’ He sings and raps on this track. The album is much deeper and focused at it may seem to appear. In the chorus, he talks directly to his brothers; my brother live your life, the way you know. Cos if you die, you p3 go go. On a heavy trap beat, he switches up the style whilst staying focused on the theme. Once again, the Young Daddy Lumba proves he’s not afraid to explore uncharted territories. We see Cue on the entire project challenging the status quo. He is living his life the way he knows it. Kojo leads his brothers by making an example of his life. Dem say you never go make it? Who’s them? Dem born you? Dem watch you? Dem buy food make you chop too? If you jump from a bridge them go jump too? Same birthday? Same casket? Same losses, same assets? No!
Cue once again reminds his brothers not to allow naysayers to distract them from the ultimate goal; making the millions.
Cue may not have achieved all his dreams and aspirations in life. At least we know he hasn’t yet made the millions he dreams of. Sadly, Cue raps about his feeling self-guilt because believes he may have done something wrong by making it life when some his old pals are still not making ends meet. Kojo has so much love for his brothers. He can only save himself from this trauma if all the brothers make the millions with him. He can’t leave anyone behind. “Growing up is a trap, chale life is real”, Cue cries to God to take control. He doesn’t want to see any of his friends die again. He preaches about working hard.
Cue cleverly signs out on the album by preaching some hope to his brothers. He confesses he also feels pressure from the weight of the world. He knows his worth, it hasn’t been a smooth ride after signing a record deal about 5 years ago. Cue however sobs to his wife, his only support system when he finds himself in such moments. This however never makes him feel weak inside. He tells his brothers there’s no marking scheme in life. They can always rise ten times when they fall ten times. For the second time we hear Cue singing in a duet with Adomaa on ‘Shii the Song Pt. 2’. My brothers they fading away, then you take my hand and you say, one day e go be okay. Things don’t always have to be perfect. You can shii the song. This happens to be the most spiritual song on the album. The harmony from VI Dream Team on the bridge made the record a perfect one.
There are many things that can be said about Ko-Jo Cue’s ‘For My Brothers.’ It is ambitious, inspirational and simplistic. It is the deepest project he has ever embarked on. It has an immensely relatable narrative. It is definitely not your regular hip-hop album from Ghana. And in this age of dishonest irony, radio targeted songs and corny wordplay by rappers it’s fascinating to see an artist delve so fearlessly into completely unfamiliar territories. ‘For My Brothers’ stands tall amongst best hip-hop albums ever to come out of Ghana.
Stream/purchase ‘For My Brothers’ on all platforms HERE
Written by: Isaac Akwasi Nyarko Jr.