...Sounds on da ground and seens on the see-ins
I am one of Obrafour's biggest fans. I travelled a number of miles away to buy his latest album, Heavy. The title track dominated the Ghanaian charts in 2006 and rightly so. I hadn't paid much attention to what he meant by 'heavy, heavy', until my little cousin passed a comment about her fears in becoming fat if she eats too much. Then it dawned on me. Obrafour uses 'heavy' to mean 'great, nice', etc. But in today's 'watch your weight world', who wants to be 'heavy'?
Heavy is the name of Obrafour's fourth album. Micheal Okyere Darko is arguably hiplife's most loved artiste, due to his ability to spit rhymes on any beat, his decent lyrics and his masterful command of the Akan language. His debut album, 'Pae mu ka' is often hailed as the best hiplife album ever. Pae mu ka was mostly engineered by Hammer of the Last 2 (Edward osei Poku), but through the years, Obrafour has been rapping on beats from various beatmakers. Heavy's beat was done by Appietus (In the mix), arguably the best sound engineer in Ghana today. Other tracks on the Heavy album include Ako (war), Auntie Akosua ba, Kae me, Odo Nsuo, African Boy and Wote puupuu.
Heavy is a love song where the Rap Sofour promises to do everything a husband would do for a wife if the girl is his. Obrafour's new found love for singing is confirmed in the song. He goes on to praise his lover, celebrating her features, her character and her personality. He sums it up by saying she is 'heavy, heavy'. What is heavy? Something that weights right? Why should someone sing a song and use 'heavy' as a term of endearment? Only in Ghana, only in Africa, we celebrate 'heavy' women.
Concerns about obesity are high in countries like the US and the UK. You can research the stats for yourself. One thing that struck me when I first came to the US was the advertisement of weight loss programs. I hadn't seen a single one in Ghana and many years later, still don't see any. Are Ghanaians not concerned about weight gain? Think again. Having weight is a sign of success and prosperity, the absence of it signifies ill health and poverty. The onslaught of popular culture, model figures, and 'slim things' has not driven 'bola bola' into history.
Another interesting thing about this heavy issue is 'who is heavy'. It is believed that people get 'heavy' due to the foods they eat - junk food. Who eats junk food in the US? Those who can afford McDonalds, Burger King and pretty much are limited to those kinds of budgets. More often than not, you have the children in low class families falling victim. The tide turns in Ghana. Who can afford the burgers, the pizzas and the 'On da runs'? The elite are the ones who can afford the junk food regularly and besides they are the ones who have been exposed to the McDonalds and Burger Kings. A friend from the UK who teaches cookery seemed to agree with me on this interesting dynamic. Hey, at least the elite class in Ghana can also afford all the weight loss programs.
Some of you may be wondering about the Makola (market) women who are also pretty heavy. They remind me of the term sedentary workers, where some workers sit somewhere all day and conduct their business. Our fatty carbohydrate diet is not too kind to such people. Even though we celebrate heaviness, we have to be active people. 'Heaviness' is not obesity though. I am not the one to define so I'll just ask Obrafour to show us in a video