Music of Wednesday, 5 October 2005
Over the last week end, I undertook a journey through two CDs, ‘Demara’ and ‘Lolo Juju’ from Amandzeba Nat Brew and the twenty-seven songs revealed to me the huge stature of Amandzeba in Ghanaian music.
As a musician, Amandzeba stands in his own class. It is generally said that he employs indigenous Ghanaian rhythms true but that is not all. He has an enormous knowledge of African rhythms and melodies too.
Another strong side of this musician, is his command of Ghanaian languages like Ga, Hausa and his own mother tongue Fanti. He blends his command of these languages with his music and the products are irresitible.
Yet another attribute of Amandzeba is his ability to exploit how well he uses banters, taunts and rhymes in dressing his rich lyrics that are mostly social commentaries, analysis of politics or narration of history,
Banters and taunts like eye ‘Owaist amii’, ‘Keba shoo’, ‘Opioto Datso’ and ‘Shoo legge’ have cleverly been integrated into songs like ‘Pioto’, ‘Damara’, ‘Keteke’ and ‘Dances’.
The effects of such banters and taunts have been to mitigate the severity of the messages contained in his lyrics.
In ‘Mintease’ he employs Fanti rhymes those he conceives as Konongo Kaya or behave like crabs in their pull him down attitude.
In ‘Lolo Juju’, ‘Keteke’ and ‘Alele’, Amandzeba draws on his rich knowledge of Nigerian juju music and fuses it well with indigenous Ghanaian rhythm to produce such wonderful rendition that can not be resisted. ‘Lolo Juju’ particularly sounds like Ghanaian interpretation of Nigerian juju music.
Amandzeba also demonstrates his capacity to sing highlife in the R&B vein and this happens most in his love songs like ‘Efia’, ‘Why’, ‘Dede’, ‘Kiss Me’ and ‘Buduruwa’.
‘Buduruwa’ is sang in the? Hausa? language and the way Amandzeba communicates his fluent Hausa is interesting.
Amandzeba Nat Brew was very talented in his youthful days. He mimicked very well every song he heard. His father Mr. Ato Brew had ironically named him Nat King Cole Brew (perhaps after his own idol musician).
He had wished his son to climb up the academic ladder to qualify in one of the Ghanaian cherished professions like medicine, law engineering, but young Nat Brew’s version of what he wanted to be a future was not that of his father’s.
When he announced to his father that he wanted to pursue a career in music, his father’s fury forced young Nat Brew to leave home to stay with a friend.
He met Oliver Garshon and learnt how to play the acoustic guitar from him. Armed with this he started working on his demo which was later to impress Sammy Odo so much so that he advised him to seek a band to back him.
The advice turned out to be a blessing as he came out too soon after with his first song ‘The Devil’. Later his song ‘Kpanlogo Ye De’ became an instant hit on the group’s first album.
Amandzeba is certainly a great highlife artiste, his contribution to the highlife industry will for long be indispensable. The uniqueness of his music has won him a number of awards, including the ultimate prize at the 7th International Alphine festival held in Saas Fee, a tourist village in Switzerland.